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construction alterations

Construction Alterations and the ADA Standards That Affect Them (Chapter 2 Part 2)

Alteration is something practically all construction sites and facilities undergo at some point or another.

The compliance and standards of these alterations are determined by certain scoping requirements, which are the bases of the 2010 ADA Standards of the Department of Justice and the ADA Standards of the Department of Transportation.

For the additions and alterations of pre existing facilities, the ADA Standards are applicable. 

These standards apply to the elements and/or spaces being altered or added.  Therefore, the extent of which the standards are applied is determined mainly by the project’s scope work.

However, it is important to be aware of the fact that for projects affecting the usage or accessibility to a space that contains a primary function, there are additional requirements and expectations.

So, without further ado, here are the ADA Standards for alterations to existing facilities and which projects apply to them.

What Exactly Is an Alteration?

According to Business Dictionary, an alteration can be defined as a “change that does not affect the basic character or structure of the thing it is applied to” in general terms.

The difference, you might be wondering, between an addition and an alteration is that an addition is welcoming a new space or element to a facility, while an alteration is simply making a small change.

The keyword here is “small”.  As discussed earlier, projects that affect areas containing primary functions to the facility are now subject to new rules and must comply with the ADA Standards for alterations.

There are seven major projects that are classified as alterations:

  1. Remodeling
  2. Renovation
  3. Rehabilitation
  4. Reconstruction
  5. Restoration
  6. Resurfacing
  7. Rearranging

As you might have picked up, the thing that all of these have in common is the fact that they simply change the existing facility for its benefit instead of adding to it or expanding it.

Additionally, things such as maintenance, reroofing or painting aren’t considered alterations, as there is really not much physical change that affects the productivity or purpose of the facility for its own good.

Alterations That Do Affect Usage or Accessibility

The one major requirement that the Department of Transportation ADA Standards set in place for alterations that affect areas of primary functions is that there is a path of travel.

Regardless of whether it is a new addition or an alteration that does or doesn’t affect usage and accessibility, there must be a safe path of travel.

This means that if an alteration affects another function, it still must contain a clear traveling path and now must comply with the ADA Standards for alterations.

Being Comfortable with the ADA Standards Will Result in a Safer and Surer Alteration Project

It is extremely important to ensure that all of your projects and facilities comply with the ADA Standards.

It is never fun to have the Department of Transportation on the back of your construction business and possibly costing you money or getting you into legal trouble.

So, know the expectations set for you, and strive to reach them with excellence and comply with standards for safety and peace.

Help with ADA Compliance

Serving clients in New Jersey, New York and Eastern Pennsylvania, the experienced professionals at East Coast Paving and Site Development are prepared to help you achieve the standards for ADA compliance.

For additional questions about ADA compliance, contact the paving experts at East Coast Paving and Site Development at 732-329-3600 or email

Read more on the series

The Ultimate Guide to ADA Compliance: Using the ADA Standards (Chapter 1)

Scoping Requirements and ADA Standards for New Construction (Chapter 2 Part 1)

ADA Standards for Floor and Ground Surface Construction (Chapter 3)

Accessible Routes in the ADA Standards (Chapter 4 Part 1)


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