The committee approved an NAHB proposal that permits top mount refrigerator/freezers instead of side-by-side units, which cost a minimum of $500 more per unit.
In the revised standard, combination refrigerators and freezers must have “at least 50% of the freezer compartment shelves, including the bottom of the freezer,” a maximum of 54 inches above the floor, “when the shelves are installed at the maximum heights possible in the compartment.”
Under the current standards, which are administered by the International Code Council, 50% of freezer space has to be no more than 54 inches high, and this has been interpreted as a requirement for side-by-side units. The bottoms of most top-mount freezer compartments are less than 48 inches above the floor.
Another NAHB proposal approved by the committee clarified that kitchen sink counters and work surfaces do not have to be instantly adjustable to heights between 29 and 36 inches, or fixed at 34 inches, as long as they can be “relocated within that range without cutting the counter or damaging adjacent cabinets, walls, doors and structural elements.”
Some jurisdictions interpret the current standard as a requirement for expensive special hardware for raising and lowering these counters.
The standard will continue to require turn-around space in bathrooms — either a five-foot circle or a T-shaped space, clear of obstructions.
However, the standard will now also require a 30-inch wide aisle along the bathtub, clear of any fixtures, to allow greater access to bathtub controls.
Under the current standard, a removable vanity or wall-mount sink can be placed in the aisle at the control end of the tub.
Another change requires the toilet to be located in a clear space that measures a minimum 60 inches parallel to the wall behind the fixture by a minimum 56 inches parallel to the wall beside the toilet.
A sink with a removable vanity can be installed beside the toilet if the 56-inch dimension is increased to 66 inches.
As a net result of these changes, bathrooms will have to be redesigned, but they will increase in size by as little as two to three square feet.
Since only one bathroom in a unit is now required to be accessible, additional bathrooms can be reduced in size, offsetting the increase in the size of the accessible bathroom.
For more information, go to NAHB's Accessible Housing Web site, or e-mail Dick Morris or call him at 800-368-5242 x8444.