Unreasonable Hardship Exemptions

Defining Unreasonable Hardship

An alteration of an existing building or a facility in which compliance would make the specific work of the project infeasible based on:

  1. An overall evaluation of the cost to provide access;
  2. The overall cost of the proposed construction project;
  3. The impact of compliance on the financial feasibility of the project;
  4. The nature of accessibility to be gained or loss; and
  5. The nature of the use of the facility by people with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) & Chapter 11B of the California Building Code (CBC) provide for exemption from reaching complete compliance with the standards of accessibility they establish, applicable only in alterations. An exception granted under these provisions cannot apply to new construction. The those codes and laws require the university to maintain records of any exemptions granted through this process. The provision defines undue hardship and describes exceptions to compliance in alterations as follows:


In alteration work, if compliance with the ADA & CBC would be an unreasonable hardship, the alteration shall provide accessibility to the maximum extent feasible. Any elements or features of the building or facility that are being altered and can be made accessible shall be made accessible within the scope of the alteration.

Completing the Form

Please keep the following in mind:

  • A project seeking exemption must complete Unreasonable Hardship declarations for each feature of a project for which compliance is viewed as a hardship.
  • As this document demonstrates the relative hardship of complete compliance, the project must extensively detail the financial context for the project. For the purpose of Compliance with ADA/CBC, the Authority Having Jurisdiction considers the project as a part of UC Berkeley's operations (not the specific department sponsoring this project!) and evaluates hardship:
    • 1) compared to the proposed scope of work under review, and
    • 2) considering the adjusted construction costs of projects in the same facility within the last three (3) years (CBC 11B-202.4 Exception 8).
  • The completed form(s) must accompany project documentation at each stage of review, including all university and DSA project reviews.
  • If an exemption is requested without attaching this form, the Building Department will require a completed form before issuing construction permits.