Question: I'm an architect who works all over New England. I'm trying to figure out when an elevator is (and isn't) required in new buildings. I know ADA has an exception, but I've heard that most state building codes are stricter. Can you straighten this out?
Answer: The ADA Standards have an exception for privately owned buildings that are either two stories OR less than 3,000 square feet per story [206.2.3 exception 1.] That means it's legal under the ADA to build a new two story building that has a restaurant or offices on the second floor and doesn't have an elevator. Same for a three story or higher building if each floor is less than 3,000 square feet per story. This ADA "elevator" exception does not apply to state and local buildings, medical facilities, shopping centers or malls and transportation facilities. Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire have adopted the International Building Code (IBC). IBC has a similar exception but it applies when the stories and mezzanines that aren't on the accessible level have a total aggregate area of not more than 3,000 square feet. Vermont Access Rules the elevator exception is more complicated, as is Massachusetts, so call us at 800-949-4232 if you want those details or are confused. You are not alone.