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Community and Q&A

Building code requirements for grab bars

Martin Holladay | Posted in General Questions on

I was surprised recently when I stayed in a Hyatt Regency hotel (in other words, not a Motel 6) in a major American city and discovered that the tub/shower unit had no grab bar. Just smooth tile walls.

Hmm, I thought. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

I know that ADA-compliant apartments need grab bars. But what about hotels? Does anybody know whether building codes require grab bars in hotel rooms?

— Martin Holladay

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  1. user-659915 | | #1

    Had the same experience a while back in a modern boutique hotel (got a deal). The shower was huge, about 6'x8' which actually makes it worse. I left them a comment (also complaining about the crappy twelve dollar breakfast which gave me a mild case of food poisoning). Back to the Comfort Inn for me.

  2. ranson | | #2

    My understanding is that they can meet ADA requirements by having a certain proportion of their rooms meet accessibility requirements.


  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    Assuming that a hotel has the required percentage of ADA-compliant hotel rooms, does that mean that the remaining rooms can have tub/shower units with no grab bars?

    It would seem that the philosophy is, "Just let them slip and fall. We can handle the lawsuits."

    -- Martin Holladay

  4. Expert Member

    ADA requirements for hotel rooms are a lot like those for handicapped parking spaces. While hotels are required to provide access to all of their public facilities for people with disabilities, they only have to have a certain number of compliant rooms, while is determined by the hotel's size.

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    So it's the consensus here that only handicapped people need grab bars?

    -- Martin Holladay

  6. Expert Member

    There is no requirement outside the ADA that I know of for bars.

    It might be useful the remember that the ADA is essentially a civil rights act that has had parts adopted by some building codes.

  7. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #7

    I'm with Martin: Why wouldn't a hotel install grab bars in every shower? For that matter, why wouldn't every home builder install one in every shower? I'm still pretty steady on my feet, but having something to hold onto while scrubbing is nice.
    In the rest of our bathroom, before drywall, we installed horizontal 2x6 blocking anywhere a grab bar could ever be needed. The day may come when a bar next to the toilet is essential and knowing we can just screw through the drywall into the blocking will make it easy.

  8. Expert Member

    Any sensible designer or builder would include them. My point about the origins of ADA provisions was that like many other "accommodations" that appear to be common-sense, they only see widespread use when there is a push by some group to make them mandatory.

    Judging by the number of houses that are still featured in architectural periodicals that don't have handrails on landing or stairs, I wonder how common they would be if they weren't required by code?

  9. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #9

    As far as I know, it isn't legal to omit handrails on stairs anywhere in the U.S. unless there are three risers or less. If there are four risers, you have to have a handrail.

    -- Martin Holladay

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