ADA Pool Lift Fines: Can You Afford Not To Comply?

From the initial news that the ADA was going to begin enforcing fines for facilities that were not in compliance with the new pool accessibility guidelines back in early 2012, the date was pushed back repeatedly before finally going live on January 31, 2013. Even with nearly two years passing, industry sources we talk to put the number of facilities in compliance between roughly one third and one half. Needless to say, if these numbers are even in the ballpark, there’s a long way to go and a large number of fines yet to come.

Despite much push back regulations have moved forward and those who have not complied run the very real risk of potentially crushing fines. As a quick snap shot of the costs of compliance versus non-compliance, here are the estimated cost breakdowns of outfitting a single pool with an ADA lift compared to the potential costs of being found non-compliant once and a second time.

pool lift fine

No one in their right mind wants to take on a few thousand dollars in costs, but when you compare the cost of adding a lift to the financial ramifications of operating without a lift, the argument becomes a more difficult one. Truth be told, these are only estimates, and some of the variations will be discussed below, but for this graph we used the following conservative estimates:

ada pool lift fine breakdown

*The Fine Print On ADA Fines, Installation, Etc.

This post isn’t to say that every single facility out there with a pool is required to be in compliance, there are some exceptions. For now some properties do not need to comply, but they likely will down the road. Failure to comply can also result in a pile of annual paperwork explaining specifically why you cannot comply. This would include things like a capital improvement budget showing intent in the immediate future. That said, “We cannot afford it” is at best a short term remedy and one that a judge may not readily accept.

While we settled on the cost of a lift at $4,000 in our example above, though the cost of a lift can range quite a bit. On the low end a lift can cost around $2,000 and in some cases upwards of $7,000 or more. All this can depend on the capacity of the lift, type of gutters, or the pool/spa configuration. Much the same, installation costs can vary a bit from the $1,500 used in our estimate. In our experience $1,500 is estimated at the high end of installation costs. Sometimes costs can be as low as a couple hundred dollars. Although Global strongly suggests all lifts adhere to the NEC bonding codes and electrical requirements, all installers should investigate the current municipalities code for this type of application and strictly follow their requirements.

If sued for non-compliance by a disabled person’s lawyer, legal fees are potentially unlimited, $10,000 is just speculation, but in truth this number could grow exponentially.

Tax credits are available to certain small businesses on the total costs of their lifts. Eligible small businesses may take a credit of up to $5,000 (half of eligible expenses up to $10,250, with no credit for the first $250). So, in our example the tax credit is calculated where the first $250 is removed from the total cost of the lift and installation (so $5,500 – $250 = $5,250) which is then cut in half to receive the final total, which in this case is $5,250 * 0.5 = $2,625.

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