The Residential ADA Bathroom Requirements

The American's with Disabilities Act is a Federal law that specifically applies to any facility open to the public as part of its normal operations.


It also applies to residential housing, buildings used for housing or living quarters, falls under the ADA act if they are constructed by public or government entities. Some builders also build to ADA standards out of belief it may increase building values.

A minimum doorway width of 32 inches is mandated in order to allow the passage of wheelchairs, walkers and people using crutches. The door should not have a raised threshold and the floor level of both the bathroom and the room immediately outside the bathroom should be level. Pocket doors, doors that slide into the wall are allowed or the door should swing out from the bathroom. Door locks that can be operated from either side are also required to facilitate entry into the bathroom in case of an emergency.


The toilet seat should be a minimum of 16 1/2 inches above the floor. The room should include a minimum of a 5-foot turning radius in front of the toilet. Include wall mounted grab bars to the side and behind the toilet. If the grab bars are not included in the original construction solid wood backing should be placed behind the drywall for future grab bar installation.


ADA compliant showers include a seat at the head of the shower or tub area as well grab bars on all sides of the shower enclosure. Shower and tub materials should be impact-resistant to avoid damage from inadvertent strikes from wheelchairs or walkers. A hand operated shower head is also advised.


The sink area should allow a "knee space" under the sink to allow someone in a wheelchair to roll close to the sink. Faucets should be single handle variety and should operate easily and require little strength to operate. Programmable faucets with preset water temperatures and shutoff times also make the sink operation easier to operate.

About the Author

Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.