Ground Floor and the Type B Multistory Unit

by Sean O'Hara on July 23, 2018

Years ago when we started this blog, I had no idea how often we’d hear from other architects that they had read something useful on it. A couple of weeks ago, I even received an email from a code reviewer that I know. While I still have to wrestle with her on our other projects, this time she was coming to me for advice.

This discussion happens to be about the Colorado State Statutes for accessibility, so it is pretty state specific. Here’s her question about interpreting the ground floor and Type B multistory dwelling units.

“I’ve been searching for a reliable interpretation of “ground floor” and what is required at “Type B multistory dwellings,” as I have an applicant pushing back. I saw the link to your article, so thought I might trouble you with it. Denver has a handout that does not make it any clearer, and just refers to the definition of ‘ground floor.’

What facilities are required on the ground floor of a 3-point unit, besides the accessible laundry appliances if provided? The definition of “ground floor” lists them all but:

  • Can it have just a kitchen, living and bath?
  • Can it have just a bedroom and bath?
  • Or is it required to have them all “living, sleeping, cooking, bathing, and toilet facilities”? This to me would be a Type B unit for 4 points.”

This is my response for the code reviewer and the other architect:

I think if all you had to do to get a 3 point unit was locate only a couple accessible rooms on the ground floor, everyone would be doing that rather than 1 point units. 🙂

So the way I read it is a Type B multistory has to have a “ground story level” that meets ANSI A117.1.

That ground story level includes “living, sleeping, cooking, bathing, and toilet facilities.” You don’t have to make other levels meet it, but the “ground story level” should have all of them.

You get 3/4 of the points that you’d get for a full bore Type B because you can have other spaces that are not on an accessible route. In ANSI 117.1 its clear that for a Type B “at least one accessible route shall connect all spaces and elements that are part of the unit. To get that other point in a Type B you have to put in a lift and check clearances on the other levels.

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