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Unlock Your Understanding of The Single-User Restroom Floor Plan Design

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Posted By Matthew Von Dohre

Learning the codes that govern the design of a single-user restroom is complex but once you understand the pieces that are involve it will greatly help you design accessible restrooms correctly in all of your projects.

One additional item to understand when designing these restrooms is to know what building code the Authority Having Jurisdiction, (AHJ), has adopted related to the location of your project so you know the specific requirements for your project location based on the code they have adopted. As new codes are implemented the way something was allowed to be designed and built can change.

In Florida we our own version of the building codes. We also have a standalone volume devoted to accessibility known as the Florida Building Code, Accessibility. A free digital version of the building codes are available online at the ICC Digital Codes Library – Florida.

The Florida Building Codes, Sixth Edition – 2017

In addition to the building codes, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is also in effect, however this is a civil rights law that is not enforced by the Inspections Departments, but rather thru civil litigation. The most recent version of the ADA Regulations was published in 2010 and is the standard to follow today. The Florida Building Code – Accessibility, Sixth Edition has used the ADA Regulations as the basis of this code book.

You always need to review and understand any changes in the building codes because code changes can have big impacts like a complete redesign of a project or small impacts that may have you change a fixture height in your design.

When designing a project you have to know when the AHJ may be adopting a new code since the code could change while you are design a project and it would affect your project when submitting it for the building permit review. Also know if you are working on projects with multiple locations with in the same state the codes can vary by what the local AHJ has adopted.

The Single-User Restroom Floor Plan Sketch

Back to the single use bathroom that we are here to review. The single-user restroom be sure to look at the information in the building code, plumbing code and accessibility code since they can all have pieces that affect the layout of a bathroom.

Single-User Restroom Layout - Required Clearances
Single-User Restroom Layout – Required Clearances

Single-User Restroom Wall Adjacencies Requirements

On a recent project we realized the sink centerline was not 15″ from the adjacent wall and it was too late to change the size of the restroom. We were able to find a narrower fixture that allowed for the correct spacing from the wall without encroaching into the clear floor area for the toilet.

Single-User Restroom Layout - Wall Adjacencies
Single-User Restroom Layout – Wall Adjacencies

Here are a few code reference that you need to understand (these are based on the Florida building code that I use on a daily basis):

  • 2017 FBC – Plumbing, Sixth Edition – Section 405.3.1
  • 2017 FBC – Accessibility, Sixth Edition – Section 603

Single-User Restroom Clear Floor Space Requirements

Clear Floor Spaces are required for each of the following items listed below. Typically the clear floor spaces can overlap, however fixtures can not overlap into other clear floor spaces.

  1. Sink – 30” x 48”
  2. Toilet – 60” x 56”
  3. Door – interior – 54” x 60” (forward approach)
    • exterior – Depends on door approach
  4. Clear floor area – 30” x 48”
  5. Turning Radius – 60” (permits knee and toe clearance)
Single-User Restroom - Five required Clear Floor Spaces
Single-User Restroom – Five required Clear Floor Spaces

In Conclusion Know The Building Codes

Remember that all building designs are governed by building codes and know where you can find the printed building codes in your office or keep the online links handy for a quick reference.

When designing your project do not always design to the minimal requirements because ultimately with the tolerances in design and in construction the final built product may not meet the minimal requirement by the building codes.

On a final note, based on my experience, when you understand what the the building codes are you can design very successful projects.

Thank you for following long and good luck on your future projects!


Matthew B. Von Dohre, AIA, ID, NCARB, sUAS RPIC

If you would like to see more from Read The Plan check out our posts about Critical Learning at Construction Sites or Architectural Precedent Studies.

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