I am considering the purchase of an apartment building as an investment. I would like to ask about ADA compliance as a new owner. The building is an older two story with 60 units located in California. I would buy as is and do some renovations on each of the units. One example question is that the building doesn't have an elevator, would I be required under any circumstance to install? Last, do you recommend a good resource that would have a checklist for someone in my situation. I ask all of this to help in my due diligence towards my valuation of this type of investment.
I would suggest going to HUD and asking for the Fair Housing Guide, which I believe they make available. Also, in California, you will need to look at Chapter 11A of Title 24, which has to do with housing. You can download this free at the Division of the State Architect site at http://www.dsa.ca.gov/
Go to the side menu where you see their resource materials and download the pdf of the regulations. You can call me at 949 929-6512 if you can't find them and I'll walk you through the site.
Another good source for information is a site with many experts from the building department and code field: http://bcodes.infopop.cc/eve/ This site used to be free, but I believe they do still have a trial subscription that is free. The ADA section is very helpful with a lot of very knowledgeable people.
I think your major obligation if you are remodeling is probably the first floor apartments -- making a certain number of those accessible. My first reaction is that an elevator is not required, but I could be wrong. Does this building have a central lobby with stairways, or are the apartments "garden style" with exterior entrances -- sort of like a typical motel? This would influence how many areas have to comply as areas possibly open to the public. If there is a lobby, for instance, you would need at least a few accessible signs like tactile/braille exit signs. Actually, there is some "gray area" that I still can't get resolved about the need for tactile and braille unit identification. I believe that when the apartments are entered along corridors, that they should have accessible ID signs, and I think it's just good business, and doesn't (or shouldn't) add much to the cost.