May 2024: Fair Housing Bathrooms

Posted on - Monday, May 13th, 2024

Usable Bathrooms

In the Fair Housing Design Manual, Requirement 7 states that a covered dwelling unit must have usable bathrooms. The definition of usable bathrooms is not fully accessible, like the ADA or the ICC ANSI A117.1, but rather required to:

Bathrooms must be designed and constructed so a person in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space and use fixtures and appliances. The guidelines provide specifications for baths which, when applied, provide a minimum level of accessibility.

To create Fair Housing “usable bathrooms” there are just a few requirements that we must incorporate into our designs. But some can be a bit confusing. This newsletter will explain those requirements and give you examples of when the confusion occcurs. This newsletter will only cover the bathroom for the dwelling units and not the common and public spaces.

Definition of bathroom

In The fair housing defines bathrooms as a room:

“which includes a water closet (toilet), lavatory (sink), and bathtub or shower. It does not include single-fixture facilities or those with only a water closet and lavatory”

Therefore powder rooms will not be required to be “usable” as outlined in the Guidelines, except for a few requirements that will be listed below.

Examples of powder rooms

Usable Bathrooms Usable bathroom specifications include:

1. An accessible route to and into the bathroom with a nominal 32- inch clear door opening (Requirements 3 and 4).

“The Guidelines specify that kitchens and all bathrooms, including powder rooms, must be on an accessible route; therefore, no part of kitchens or bathrooms may be located in a raised or sunken area unless an accessible route can be provided to that area.”

This requirement applies to all bathrooms, and also to powder rooms when the powder room is the only toilet facility on the entry level of a multistory dwelling unit in an elevator building.

2. Switches, outlets, and controls in accessible locations (Requirement 5).

3. Reinforced walls to allow for the later installation of grab bars around the toilet, tub, and shower stall; under certain conditions provisions for reinforcing must be made in shower stalls to permit the installation of a wall-hung bench seat (Requirement 6).

Hotel Ballroom for conferences or events

These are the minimums sizes for blocking, but keep in mind that to install future grab bars for mobility, it is recommended that longer ones be installed for longer grab bars in the future.

4. Maneuvering space within the bathroom to permit a person using a mobility aid to enter the room, close and reopen the door, and exit (Requirement 7).

5. Maneuvering and clear floor space within the bathroom to permit a person using a mobility aid to approach and use fixtures; fixture dimensions and placement are specified under certain conditions (Requirement 7).

clearances at the different fixtures in the usable bathrooms

clearance at the toilet can have an obstruction, but only 24″ deep

showers can only have a parallel approach

In dwelling units containing more than one bathroom

Some dwelling units have more than one bathroom. So the question is, how many of the bathrooms have to be “usable”? The answer is it depends (gotta love that answer)

The fair housing gives us two choices: Spec A or Spec B

(This is not to be confused with Type A and Type B units that are described in the ICC ANSI A117.1. Those are different standards and requirements.)

If you choose Spec A bathroom layout then ALL the bathrooms have to meet the “usable” requirements.

If you choose Spec B then only one must be usable

If Specification A is selected as the basis for designing a bathroom, all bathrooms in the dwelling unit also must comply with the A Specifications.

Spec A Batrhoom

(plumbing fixtures all in the same wet wall. perpendicular approach at bathing allowed and facility and clear floor space beyond the door)

If Specification B is selected, only one bathroom in the dwelling unit must meet those requirements;

Spec B Batrhoom

(fixtures are in different wet walls. parallel approach at bathing facility and clear floor space beyond the door)

all other bathrooms in the dwelling unit must be

1) on an accessible route (Requirement 4),

2) have doors with a nominal 32-inch clear opening (Requirement 3),

3) have switches, outlets, and controls in accessible locations

(Requirement 5),

4) and have reinforced walls around toilets, tubs, and shower stalls (Requirement 6).

Spec B Batrhoom only one of the bathrooms required to be “usable”

but the others must be on an accessible route