Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
Graham and Jake are in the studio again while Ashkahn plots his marvelous float industry event.
This time the guys are talking about how to make a float room ADA compliant. Lots of it is going to vary from state to state (and sometimes even city to city) but there are some useful tips and tricks for making sure you hit all the right marks for compliance when planning your build out.
Jake and Graham share construction ideas, ways to think about ADA requirements, and some fun stories about Float On’s own adventures in making their building accessible.
Info and tickets for the Float Conference, coming up THIS WEEK, August 18th and 19th!
Listen to Just the Audio
Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Graham: Alright welcome everybody. I’m Graham.
Jake: And I am Jake.
Graham: And Ashkahn got sucked away to a different dimension or something there.
Jake: Yeah he’s gone.
Graham: Exactly sure. He will not be joining us for the podcast except for the intro. He’s actually working hard on the float conference, which is just around the corner. August 18th and 19th if you’ve been living under a float rock for the last few months. And yeah, we are taking the studio answering some construction questions with us. So today’s question is, how do I create a float room that is ADA compliant?
Jake: We get this question a lot actually. A lot of apprentices, a lot of you guys reaching out to us and stuff. The answer to that one is a little tricky.
Graham: Well let’s start with what ADA means.
Jake: Okay. Alright. So that’s an accessibility law that has been put in place. The Americans with disabilities act.
Graham: We’re thinking Australians with disabilities act. I don’t think that’s true, I think it’s actually called something totally different down there. I just realized at some point it was the same first letter.
Jake: Yeah. But basically the idea is accessibility to your space. So someone in a wheelchair for example can get through your doors. Someone in a wheelchair can get down your hallway. Someone can get into your float room and they can turn their wheelchair completely around without being obstructed. We see a shower, a special shower that’s inside of an ADA approved float room that has a bench and has grab bars. And has an adjustable shower head and everything like that.
Graham: Yeah, reachable from also a sitting position.
Jake: Exactly. Same thing with coat hooks. We see a lot of ADA compliance coming in bathrooms as well at float centers. A lot of the budget gets put towards that. But float rooms in particular, it gets a little strange. We’ve seen a wide range of requirements. We’ve seen it be as simple as the city inspector comes in, they grab a support grab bar, and they realize it’s not moving. They look at the bench that the shower’s in and they approve us. They give us the stamp. That’s actually what happened in Portland for us. Our tank was in place but the tank itself was not inspected.
Only the shower and the turnaround radius and everything. We’ve also heard some very tough stories. One float center we know of was required to purchase a pneumatic lift that could theoretically lift a client in and out of a float tank. They didn’t need to have it installed in the room, but they needed to have it on the premises. And we’ve seen some other stuff too, right Graham? People having to change up their tank design or knock out one wall so that they can have a swing height of 18 inches so you can swing your legs in and out.
What else have you seen when you’re traveling around a lot?
Graham: Yeah, it’s not too different from place to place, right? And the basic premise is just someone in a wheelchair mostly needs to be able to access every part of your building necessary to your service.
Jake: Yeah anything that’s public.
Graham: Yeah. You didn’t mention the actual slope leading up to the front door.
Graham: But ramps and things like that. Just being able to reach the front door in the first place. Crossing the front door. Being able to approach the front desk for payment. Being able to go back to the bathroom. Being able to go into the room. All that needs to be accessible to at least one float room per X amount of float rooms that you have. And I guess the thing to note here is just your classification as a business is really important for what you need to do for ADA requirements. And some classifications you need to have only 10% of your facilities being able to be accessed by people with disabilities.
Other ones it’s you need 30 or 50% of the services that you offer. So depending on how you’re classified, for a six tank center you might only need one float room to be ADA accessible like we do. Or you might need two. Or you might even in some cases need three. So all of it really depends on who you’re talking to, how they decide to categorize your business. As we’re fond of saying for a lot of things, even what that person ate for lunch that day, sadly has a giant impact on your ultimate budget.
So those are the things that I’ve noticed that can be really confusing and I think especially for some people kind of frustrating when they’re going through this process.
Jake: And where you’ll see some differences between different regulations, a lot of that has to do with the property you’re moving into as well. If this is a new build out and you’re starting from scratch, you’re going to have more stringent rules applied to you to make that place completely compliant. If you move into a brownstone in New York and there’s only steps out front, the city is not going to force you to knock out those steps and put a ramp. They’re going to provide you with certain variances.
They don’t want to create an undue burden on business, but they want to make sure that everything is accessible.
Graham: And often it will be a percentage of your build out budget has to be dedicated to ADA upgrades.
Graham: And in a certain order too. So if you don’t have handicapped parking spots, I think that’s the first thing that they force you to add in for example. And then I think it actually almost goes from there. I think the accessibility to the front door becomes the next thing you have to add in. So it’s this weird part of running or building at a float tank center is our construction isn’t cheap, which actually means our ADA budget in a lot of cases and for a lot of states. It varies state to state by the way. I think it’s anywhere 20% and up for the amount you have to dedicate to an ADA budget of your current budget.
Jake: Maybe 10% and up but yeah.
Graham: Maybe 10% and up? Yeah, maybe it’s just 20% here.
Jake: Yeah it is here, but 10% is the federal minimum.
Graham: Yeah. But if you’re building out a $500,000 float tank center, all of a sudden even at 10%, 50,000 of that has to be spent on the books as an ADA upgrade.
Jake: Which your bathrooms are a great place for that. You’re already creating, there’s no reason not to build ADA bathrooms. There’s no reason not to allocate that portion of the budget towards that ADA compliance. And actually these wild guys, they mention a parking spot. These wild ones right here in the middle of the night went out and painted a handicapped parking spot in the parking lot behind our shop only to find out the next morning that our neighbor had been parking there for what, 30 years or something like that?
Graham: Yeah, every day for 30 years or something. She just showed leaves one evening and comes back the next day and her spot is now a handicapped parking spot. That was ridiculous. But it had to be though. You have to make the handicapped spot the closest one to the entrance to the building, which is why she’d been parking there every day for 25 years because she wanted to walk the least amount I’m sure.
Jake: Yeah, that wasn’t us, man.
Graham: She moved out next year. I think after 25 years in that spot she was just like, man these guys suck. I’m never moving into a float center again.
Jake: Yeah, I’m sick of these whippersnappers.
Graham: So I guess as far as the worst case scenario for ADA compliance for a float room specifically I would say in addition to all this basic stuff you’ll need to have a ledge that people can sit on, swing over their legs. So kind of an open design, almost like an open pool design.
Jake: And we’ve seen that. A couple centers have been forced to do that. They’ve had to revisit their plans. Yeah, and knock out basically one wall of a cabin style tank so that you can swing your leg over.
Graham: And then the other most extreme thing is just requiring a lift, right? Actually requiring a seat that people can sit in that will throw them over the side of the float tank and lower them gently.
Jake: Throw them.
Graham: Well swing them, you will very gently throw them over into the float tank.
Jake: Caress them while you’re placing them. Oh, there is one more note about these ADA things. If you’re going to, you know we recommend against building your own tanks. Obviously we did that because we’re fools. But if you build your own float tanks, you’re going to invite quite a bit more scrutiny than if you purchase float tanks from a manufacturer. That is definitely something I’ve noticed.
Graham: Yeah, you just don’t have the same documentation. You don’t have the same designs. There’s not a ton of certifications you’ve had to go through or examples of these up and running elsewhere. And they fundamentally look at it and know, you’re someone who’s just building a float tank. You’re not, this isn’t your main line of work is manufacturing these things. Yeah, scrutiny definitely. Yeah, anything else on ADA compliance you wanted to pass on to our lovely listeners/
Jake: I don’t think so. I guess in an ideal world, I would have every single float room be ADA compliant. If I had the space I’d float on every one of my rooms would be ADA compliant. I got to admit, I love taking a shower while sitting on the bench, it’s nice. So don’t look at is as a restriction. Look at this at you’re creating accessibility to your space. And in the best world, you’d have enough room and enough budget to make all of your rooms completely compliant. So that’s one of the last things, one of my last thoughts I guess on that.
Graham: No, that’s a great note to end on. And if you have questions of your own, cruise on down to floattanksolutions.com/podcast. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.
Graham: And send in your floaty questions our way. We’ll answer them. And if you have construction questions, now is a good time to send them over. And we’ll try to get them answered in the next couple weeks.
Jake: It’s going to be a great couple weeks.
Graham: Alright, talk to you soon everybody.
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