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Does a powder room have to be handicap accessible?

By Teri Karush Rogers | March 16, 2010 - 7:02AM 

Q.  I have a small pantry off of my kitchen that I want to convert into a powder room.  Does it have to be handicap accessible? 

It's a very small space--it would probably need to be four times larger to fit a wheelchair, and the project would no longer make any sense as it would eat up half of my kitchen.

A.  Our BrickTank experts say your powder room does not have to be handicap accessible.

"Only one bathroom needs to conform to the NYC Access Codes standard," says Manhattan architect and BrickTank expert Ethan Gerard. "Assuming there is only one other bathroom--a full bath-- in the apartment, it should conform to the NYC Department of Buildings code for ADA standards."

While your powder room deosn't have to be fully accessible, you will need to lay the groundwork for possible future adaptation to the needs of a disabled user.

"This covers items like installing wood blocking in the walls to attach grab bars or the ability to swing the door the other way if necessary to provide proper clearances," says William Suk, another Manhattan architect and BrickTank expert. 

"Aside from adaptability issues," says Suk, "the major plumbing question you should be thinking about is whether you have a big enough sanitary line to accommodate a toilet."

Toilets require a 4" stack, says Suk, while most kitchen waste lines are only 2" wide.  

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