Building Commercially for the Disabled

You’re a commercial real estate developer in Minnesota, and you’ve selected your site. You’ve also chosen a general contracting company to handle all the construction details, from permitting to ensuring that your building will in compliance with Minnesota real estate building codes. But there may be one factor you may not have considered: accessibility to the building by visitors with disabilities. You will want to be sure that you don’t isolate an entire segment of the population because of problems accessing the new facilities.

Where to begin?

Although your licensed Minnesota construction company will help you in the process of providing people with disabilities, you need to be familiar with a few prominent modifications that most buildings need these days. The starting point is the parking area–make sure that you have adequate spaces and signage based on the total spaces you have. Not providing a place for customers with disabilities to park almost guarantees that you won’t get their business. Remember that in addition to signs, the parking spaces need to be painted with highly visible blue and white paint that stands out against all other parking spaces.

Once your customers have parked, you need to be sure that there are no barriers to entering or exiting your building. An experienced Minnesota general contracting company will assist you in determining what you’ll need, but in general, you want to have low thresholds that allow easy wheelchair access, doors that can be opened easily–or automatically, continuous railings on stairwells and ramps, and again, prominent signage that helps your customers easily identify paths for them to enter your building.

Inside the building

You can’t know everything that you need to do inside your facility (again, this is why working with a Minnesota real estate company that has experience in these issues is key), but there are some obvious issues to address. If your building has aisles or walkways, make sure they’re at least three feet wide. You can do this by walking around with a simple yardstick.

Make sure that there are no protruding objects that could impede a visually impaired visitor, or if there are, that they have protective barriers around them.

If you offer table seating, make sure that at least 5% of it is accessible to persons with disabilities.Always make sure that any facilities for disabled customers have adequate signage. This can’t be stressed enough. Even if you have made the necessary modifications, you need to let your customers know where they are.In restrooms, you need to take into account the width of doors, height of sinks and soap/towel dispensers, and Braille signage.

You don’t have to assume that incorporating these improvements into your construction plan will be overwhelming. By working closely with a Minnesota real estate construction company with extensive general contracting experience, you can ensure that you’ve made your facilities accessible to people with disabilities. And these measures will help you avoid isolating a significant segment of the population.