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    Commercial Renovation

    Commercial Renovation

    New postby drginc on Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:33 am

    This question comes from Massachusetts and thank you for having a site like this.

    A 1625 sq. ft. ranch built in 1909 with basement was converted to medical space in 1965 and has been used as such since that time. The building recently changed hands and the new owners want to modernize the interior since it hasn't been touched since the 1965 renovation. They don't have a great deal of money for fluff since their mechanical, electrical and exterior windows are all original from 1965. What we are trying to do for them is to determine what requirements they will be held to regarding code upgrades.

    We have already met with the Architectural Access Board and determined that a variance would be needed since the full compliance of CMR521 kicked in due to the cost of the above items. However, we haven't been able to get an answer on fire protection from anyone in the Town other than what's in the building code.

    Questions:

    1. The building is a brick fascia, wood frame ranch which has no fire suppression systems at all - no sprinklers, smoke detectors, master box, etc. We asked the building officials what would be required. Their answer was that the architect has to worry about that so we don't make those decisions until his code review (construction control) document is submitted.
    2. The building's volume contains less than 35,000 cubic feet of enclosed space so the new owners don't want to hire an architect since finances are tight.
    3.We visited the Fire Department on their behalf and they stated that if the building's use was not changing they had no jurisdiction other than enforcing what the building code required.
    3. This is a Group B building and in searching the MA building code 780CMR Section 9 we found what we believe is an answer to the sprinkler question in 903.2.2 Group B which states that automatic sprinklers are required if the building has an aggregate square footage of 12,000 square feet or greater. Is this a correct interpretation?
    4. In 907.2.2 we believe that they do not need a manual fire alarm system since their occupancy is a fraction of the stated numbers. Is this interpretation correct?
    5. Finally we are assuming that the minimum we'll have to do is install hard wired smoke detectors along with fire extinguishers. However we can't find in the code where it states that they are required to install the smoke detectors. Can you assist?

    The new owners want to do the right thing but are starting to believe that due to the regulations if they just move in as is they'd be better off. Obviously it would be better for all if they upgraded their building but no one in the Town wants to make a decision. Thank you very much in advance

    John DeRienzo
    drginc
     
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    Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:41 pm

    Re: Commercial Renovation

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:20 pm

    John,

    I'm going to have to re-read this and digest it some more, but my initial thinking is that your client may be on the right track - do some renovation this year, next year do some more, and some more the next year, etc.

    One thing to keep in mind is that some AHJ have a plan to track the above and try to determine if it was being done to avoid crossing the substantial repair threshold to avoid having to bring the entire structure to current code. If this ends up as the plan to take, I would first clear it with the AHJ to avoid a surprise midway through the work. You could propose it as "phased renovation" as money permits and go at it in phases, all planned and approved ... if approved that way.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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    Re: Commercial Renovation

    New postby drginc on Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:25 pm

    Jerry:

    Thanks I understand the items you presented but was trying to determine if my interpretation regarding the need for a fire suppression system, manual fire alarm system and smoke detectors was correct. Any thoughts on that? Thanks
    drginc
     
    Posts: 2
    Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:41 pm

    Re: Commercial Renovation

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:34 pm

    My apologies for the delay in getting back to this, I had to go down to Miami to do some consultation and forget where I was here.

    "3. This is a Group B building and in searching the MA building code 780CMR Section 9 we found what we believe is an answer to the sprinkler question in 903.2.2 Group B which states that automatic sprinklers are required if the building has an aggregate square footage of 12,000 square feet or greater. Is this a correct interpretation?"

    From the MA building code you referenced:
    - 903.2.2 Group B. An automatic sprinkler system shall be provided throughout buildings having a Group B occupancies where the aggregate floor area of the building exceeds 12,000 square feet (1115 m2).

    You asked if your interpretation was correct, and, based on what I found in the MA building code, I would agree with you and my answer would be "Yes." as long as your buiding was 12,000 square feet or less.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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