Author: Dan Gagen

Change of What…?

Change of use of an existing building, such as a church moving into a former retail store space, can be a very confusing and expensive experience for a building owner. I have found that most building owners, potential tenants or buyers, realtors and contractors do not understand that all commercial buildings are classified and regulated by State Building Codes and local zoning ordinances as the initial occupancy use it was designed and permitted for.

When you want to change the occupancy of an existing building, i.e.:  put a restaurant in a retail store space, a retail space in an old manufacturing building, or manufacturing in an old warehouse, either the existing building must already comply with all current construction codes for the new use, or be altered to comply with all current codes, or use Chapter 34 of the Building Code to mitigate having to comply with some of the current codes for new construction.

If you need to upgrade an existing building to meet all current construction codes for a new use, several issues can be very expensive:

  • A factory with over 12,000sf, a church with more than 2,100sf of meeting space, a restaurant with more than (100) occupants, and any apartments (regardless of size or number), would require fire sprinklers to be installed.
  • All existing non-compliant ADA accessibility issues would need to be altered into compliance. This can mean, completely demolishing & rebuilding all existing restrooms as well as adding ramps, moving & enlarging doors and changing all door hardware.
  • Existing heating & cooling systems likely would need to be modified or completely replaced in order to meet current fresh air and ventilation requirements.

Chapter 34 is a part of the Building Code that provides economic change of use for some existing buildings while maintaining public safety.  It involves evaluation & scoring of the existing building concerning life safety by a licensed professional. If the scoring passes, the change of use can be permitted without having to alter existing non-compliant portions of the building as listed above.

Chapter 34 evaluation & scoring is very technical and takes experience & a good understanding of the Construction Codes. If you are planning on re-use of any existing building, contact us so we can put PDMi’s experience and knowledge to work for you.

Did You Know…

We had a client recently that was of the opinion that “I own this building and I should be able to do what I want to it”. He knew there was a building department which issued building permits, but he did not realize how far reaching these agencies went.

There is much talk these days about the swamps in Washington, but the forest of building regulations at the State and Local level has become increasingly dense and difficult to find your way through when constructing a new building, adding an addition or renovating an existing facility. Getting a building permit is not as easy as it once was.

Did you know…

  • that there are fifteen different State of Indiana commercial construction codes?
  • that there are multiple different local departments that may need to review and approve your project?
  • that most commercial projects are required to have detailed construction drawings certified by a design professional submitted to the state agency for review. Before a local building permit can be issued the state must agree that you have met their regulations and then issue a Construction Design Release (CDR)?
  • that if your project involves any new exterior building and/or site improvements, it must be submitted to the local planning department to be reviewed. Before a local building permit can be issued the local planning department must agree that you have met their regulations and then issue an Improvement Location Permit (ILP).
  • that your project must have periodic inspections by the building department during construction?
  • that each local department must be individually satisfied before the building department can do their final inspections and issue a Certificate of Occupancy (COO)?
  • that you cannot legally occupy the building or renovated area until the Certificate of Occupancy (COO) is issued?

Much like a traveler going into an unfamiliar forest, you as a building Owner, really need the help of an experienced guide so you can make your way through safely.

PDMi can see that all these things are done. Give us a call if we can be of any help.