Access audits and assesments

Before being able to give advice on how the accessibility of an existing building can be improved, it is first important to identify in what ways the building and the site in which the building is located are inaccessible. The process of assessing the accessibility of a building is done by carrying out an Access Audit.

An Access Audit is designed to identify, alter or remove disabling barriers within your company. A disability audit of your building will involve on site observations and a detailed physical inspection of your property.

An Access Audit involves monitoring the route that a disabled person would take in reaching, approaching and using a particular building. The Audit considers this journey from the point of view of a notional person having a wide range of disabilities including physical, sensory, and learning impairments. By monitoring the route in this way, the Audit identifies any physical and other barriers that may prevent, or make it unreasonably difficult for the disabled person to approach, enter and use the facilities available within the building. For this reason it is useful for the Access Audit to be carried out when a property is occupied in order to observe the building in use.

Once the inspection of the property is complete, McCaren Access produce an Access Audit Report which provides a detailed description of the results of the audit and recommendations where improvements can be made. The following headings form the basis of the Audit Report:

external features
approach and principal entrance to the building
secondary approaches and entrances
horizontal circulation
vertical circulation
toilet facilities
main rooms and activity areas

Access Audit Reports can take one of three forms to best suit your budget: the Simple Checklist Report, the Basic Narrative Report, or the Full Narrative Report. Each provides a different level of detail, with the Simple Checklist Report being the most basic and the Full Narrative Report which includes priorities and budget costings being the most comprehensive.

Click to download a PDF sample report:

narrative access report
tabular access report
checklist access report
costed checklist access report

An Access Assessment is similar to an Access Audit, but is done before the building is constructed, and is based on an assessment of the design drawings prepared by an architect or building designer. The format of the Access Assessment is generally similar to that for an Access Audit Report and follows the same logical sequence of assessing the entire building for accessibility.

Access Statements

In August 2006, the Government introduced new legislation which required Planning Applications to have an Design& Access Statement. The only exception to this is applications relating to private householders and mineral workings.

Apart from trying to improve the general quality of design, this policy was introduced to ensure that all users have equal and convenient access to buildings, surrounding spaces and public transport. An Access Statement explains how a development has been designed to be inclusive of all people on equal terms.

McCaren Access have expert architectural knowledge as well as a wealth of Access experience. To research the Access Statement, we would discuss the project with you, read plans, and visit the site, then make recommendations that take a detailed overview of the Accessibility of a proposed development. Using our knowledge of the Planning process we would then prepare an Access Statement to fully support your Planning Application.

Recent Access Statements undertaken by McCaren include a broad range of building types from the new Torquay Community College, to a small commercial premises in Saltash, Cornwall.

Legal/expert witness work

McCaren has been involved in expert witness work for over ten years, and has dealt with cases ranging from personal injury claims against multi-national companies to medical negligence claims against Health Authorities.

We can offer advice in cases of personal injury where it is necessary to make changes to accommodation in existing or purpose-designed dwellings. This can include the preparation of specifically-tailored Accommodation Reports which can cover present and future requirements in terms of accommodation, including the preparation of budget costings to cover the cost of the building works, fixtures and fittings, maintenance and running costs.

Alongside McCaren Access, McCaren Architecture can also provide the full range of architectural services to ensure that the building works are carried out in accordance with an agreed set of drawings and specifications. This can include working with an Occupational Therapist and other Consultants in the specification and installation of specialist equipment.

Other specialisms

We operate alongside our two sister companies McCaren Architecture and McCaren Interiors, the former having over 18 years of experience on projects ranging from private residential extensions to commercial housing developments, and community facilities. The resulting partnership of Architecture, Access, and Interior design expertise under the same roof is a unique combination which enables us to take a holistic view of an entire design to ensure that all potential users’ needs are met in full.