The Final Review

Burnham’s Blog

The Final Review shares the knowledge of Burnham’s experts in building permit expediting and code compliance. Learn about different jurisdictional building permit requirements, and stay up-to-date on the Americans with Disabilities Act and local accessibility standards. Follow the latest in sustainability, including building energy codes and sustainability design developments.

A Misunderstood Area of ADA Compliance: Existing Facilities

Jun 22, 2016 8:00:00 AM

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for existing facilities are a source of great confusion. We periodically encounter building owners or managers who believe the ADA only applies to new construction or alterations; and therefore, buildings that existed prior to the ADA’s enactment do not need to be accessible. However, the ADA does require the removal of barriers to accessibility in older buildings, and it is critical to understand the precise circumstances when such barrier removal is needed for ADA compliance.


Illinois Accessibility Law: Critical Changes to the Environmental Barriers Act

Jun 15, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Important Amendments to the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act, Senate Bill 2956, were introduced in the Illinois General Assembly this past February by Senator Linda Holmes. The General Assembly passed these changes to the Illinois accessibility law for people with disabilities at the end of May, and Govern Rauner signed the bill into law this month. We thought we would take a closer look at the Environmental Barriers Act amendments.


Sidewalk Accessibility: Proposed Standards for Sidewalk Smoothness

Jun 8, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Rough surfaces can impact sidewalk accessibility for people with disabilities, particularly wheelchair users. The United States Access Board (Access Board), the federal agency responsible for creating accessibility guidelines, has sponsored research on surface roughness and the development of a standard for measuring sidewalk smoothness. In this post, we will take a look at the research and the proposed standard to make sidewalks more accessible.


ADA Door Requirements: What's Wrong with this Picture?

May 5, 2016 8:00:00 AM

It's crucial to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but unfortunately, some of the accessibility design requirements are commonly misunderstood or overlooked. We at Burnham Nationwide conduct ADA compliance reviews and site inspections and frequently see the same violation of the ADA’s door standards, which can pose a lawsuit risk for non-compliant buildings.

Do you know what to look for when complying with door requirements? See if you can find the violation of the ADA’s door rules in this picture:


ADA Building Requirements for Elevators

Apr 29, 2016 8:00:00 AM

At Burnham Nationwide, our code team conducts reviews and site inspections for accessibility compliance, and we often see elevators that are not designed or installed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is critical to understand the ADA requirements for elevators when constructing or renovating a place of public accommodation or commercial facility where vertical accessibility is required - to avoid these mistakes, we're highlighting some of the ADA requirements for elevators below. 


ADA Shower Requirements: We Answer Your Questions

Mar 11, 2016 8:54:00 AM

Complying with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is required by federal law for all places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities. The law was put in place to ensure people with disabilities’ safe entrance and use of public buildings.

We know the laws of ADA can be quite challenging to comply with, and every day we are asked specific questions by our clients on how they can make their buildings safer and more accessible by meeting ADA requirements. To help, we are sharing with you a specific question that we answered in regards to ADA shower requirements.


Why You Shouldn't Ignore California ADA Requirements

Feb 18, 2016 12:30:00 PM

While you’re busy making sure your California construction or renovation project is properly permitted, don’t forget that every public, as well as many employee areas of the building must comply with the California Building Code Chapter 11 requirements, which incorporates the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Ensuring compliance in the construction phase will save time and money down the road, not only for owners but also for those involved in the process. Even years after the construction has been completed, ADA compliance complaints can still be filed.


4 Reasons Why You Need an ADA Compliance Review

Nov 25, 2015 8:00:00 AM

You can’t afford to be in non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. In fact, without an ADA compliance review of your building, you could be throwing money out the window. The ADA requires all existing public facilities to remove barriers and all new ones to meet full compliance. You see, non-compliance with the ADA can be expensive; impacting your profits, finances and more importantly, how your business is viewed in the community and at large.


8 Must Have ADA Elevator Requirements to Get Your Building up to Code

Oct 19, 2015 10:56:30 AM

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements cover just about every inch of a building: the entryway, halls, signage, parking lot - and of course, the elevator! In fact, because elevators are commonly used by people with both mobility and communication disabilities to travel from floor to floor, the ADA has some very specific requirements. Complying with the requirements is critical in providing for overall building accessibility and to avoid potential litigation, settlement costs and legal fees.


ADA Bathroom Requirements You Might Not Know

May 21, 2015 5:06:00 AM

ADA guidelines cover everything from entrances and parking lots to signage, stairways and more. But one area they’re particularly comprehensive on is bathrooms. There are dozens upon dozens of ADA bathroom requirements, addressing things like grab bars, handicap stalls and even the height of sinks.


Cook County Adopts New Codes; What About Chicago?

Dec 1, 2014 1:55:00 AM


As of January 2015 Chicago will be the only community left in the metropolitan area, as well as the only major US city, that does not use a current model building code for fire and life safety.

On November 19, 2014 the Cook County Board of Commissioners officially approved the ordinance that will update their building codes for unincorporated areas by adopting the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) for one and two-family dwellings, the 2009 International Building Code (IBC) for multiple dwellings and commercial, and the 2012 International Mechanical Code (IMC). The new Cook County Electrical Code is a combination of three electrical codes: the 1997 Cook County Building and Environmental Ordinance (which was taken from the 1970 Chicago Electrical Code), the current Chicago Electrical Code (from 1999), and the 2011 National Electrical Code (NFPA 70). All should be available on the website soon and will be made effective on January 5, 2015. The 2014 Illinois Plumbing Code and the 2012 (Illinois) International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) have and will continue to govern work in the County.


A Look at the 2010 ADA Parking Requirements

Apr 18, 2013 3:24:00 AM


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifies parking requirements, and these regulations are important for any business to be familiar with whether facilities have a tiny lot or thousands of spaces to avoid potential code violations. Below, we've provided a partial summation of the rules currently in force, however this is intended purely as a high-level overview. Please direct specific questions to an attorney or ADA expert, such as those found here at Burnham Nationwide: we're happy to answer your questions.


Self-Storage Facilities and the Impact of ADA Building Guidelines

May 9, 2012 5:33:00 AM

When thinking of the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990 to ensure accessibility of buildings to the physically challenged, the mind often invokes images of public buildings, city structures, restaurants, stores and the like. Often forgotten when thinking of ADA building guidelines are storage facilities. 


To Swing or Not to Swing?

Mar 3, 2009 1:00:00 AM

It is often questioned when a door from a room or space can be sliding or must swing and when it must swing in the direction of egress. Per the Chicago Building Code (CBC) 10(13-160-250), all doors required as exit doors shall swing in the direction of exit travel. This section requires all doors, except those in residential units serving one dwelling unit only, to swing. This section also allows certain doors to not swing in the direction of exit travel, such as such as those to corridors from rooms having a capacity not exceeding 50 persons and in Business Units, doors to corridors from offices having a capacity not exceeding 100 persons.


Are Open Stairs Permitted in Chicago?

Jan 20, 2009 1:00:00 AM

A common code question I receive is whether or not stairs are permitted to be open on both floors. All stairs are required to be enclosed unless noted otherwise per the Chicago Building Code (CBC) 7(15-8-140). Stairway enclosures shall not be required in buildings of Types I-A, I-B, and I-C Construction for stairs from the second floor to the main exit floor and serving the second floor only, except in Hazardous Use Units, in Multiple Dwellings and in Institutional Units where habitable rooms are located on the second floor and stairs in Mercantile and Business Units from a basement sales space to the main exit floor level, constituting not more than fifty percent of the total required width of exit stairs. Stairway enclosures shall not be required in buildings of any type of construction in Residential Units, stairs serving one dwelling unit only and entirely contained within such dwelling unit, in Assembly Units, stairs connecting any balcony level with the main floor level and in all occupancies, stairs connecting a mezzanine floor to the floor immediately below.