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Regulation: Wisconsin Commercial Building Code

The WI Department of Safety and Professional Services considers Residential Care Apartment Complexes (RCACs) to be apartment buildings subject to the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code (WCBC) pursuant to the code in effect at the time the building was approved as an apartment building. RCACs are not subject to the assisted living/residential care provisions of the code.

The Department of Health Services (DHS) - Division of Quality Assurance Regional Offices review common use areas within the RCAC to ensure compliance with the accessibility requirements of the WCBC. RCACs connected to CBRFs, nursing homes or hospitals require building plan review by DHFS engineers. They review all proposed RCACs per HFS 89.22, regardless of their configuration.

In addition to WCBC, all housing must also follow Federal Fair Housing law as it relates to accessibility. In buildings that are ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator and four or more units:

  • Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
  • All units must have:
    • An accessible route into and through the unit,
    • Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls,
    • Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars, and
    • Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.

If a building with four or more units has no elevator and will be ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units.

These requirements for new buildings do not replace any more stringent standards in State or local law.


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Created by the WI Department of Health and Family Services and the WI Housing and Economic Development Authority in partnership with NCB Development Corporation's Coming Home Program, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation