Can I Make My Mobile Office ADA Compliant?
Most mobile offices are raised about 3 feet above the ground on a foundation. This protects them from a broad spectrum of threats – critter intrusion, flooding, room temperature change from ground cold or snow, water damage from ground moisture and snow accumulation – while leaving ample crawlspace for utility connections.
At the same time, this elevation poses a new threat: handicapped accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which requires all mobile offices and other modular structures to be “ADA-accessible,” usually with a wheelchair-friendly ramp or the placement of the building floor and entrance so they are flush with the ground.
“Modifications can be made for ADA,” said a spokesperson for Portable Space Mobile Offices of Exeter, Penn. “Call your local zoning board for compliance regulations.”
Modular Solutions, Ltd. of Phoenix, Ariz., describes two ways to conform your modular office to stringent ADA regulations. The most practical way is to build a ramp, but its grade must be properly measured according to code so it won’t be too steep for the mobility-impaired to comfortably mount.
The code’s measurement ratio is as follows: For each inch off the ground the mobile office rises, 12 inches of ramp-floor are needed. For instance, a unit on a 30-inch-high foundation needs a 30-foot ramp, complete with upright supports, code-compliant handrails, and a floor-level landing at the entrance with enough surface area to accommodate a large wheelchair.
If ramp construction is problematic, or if the mobile office’s site will not accommodate a ramp comfortably, Modular Solutions’ other method is to dig a foundation pit that measures the foundation’s height in depth, which will reduce the grade and make the unit’s entrance and floor level with the ground. The feasibility of this, of course, would depend on the site’s soil type and quality, to be determined in advance from a site inspection, as well as landowner approval, zoning issues, the client’s budget, and your state’s particular accessibility codes.
Given their variance from state to state, it’s important to ascertain your ability to bring a mobile office in line with your regional codes before deciding to purchase or lease one at all, or look into buying or renting one that’s already ADA-compliant, according to Cassone of Ronkonkoma, N.Y.