Trust but Verify

We got a call a couple of weeks ago from one of our clients that owns multi-tenant retail shopping centers. The reason for the call was to ask us to develop a “practical” detail for extending the existing demising wall, between two of his occupied spaces, from above the ceiling to the underside of the roof deck in order to make it a one hour assembly.

We developed the one-hour rated wall assembly detail and gave it to him, but then came our question “Why do you want to do this”? He said that the Fire Marshall came through the space and told him that the demising wall between the two spaces needed to be of one-hour construction and extend to the roof deck. We told him there are specific conditions spelled out in the building code where a fire rated demising wall is required but his condition is not one of them. We suggested he ask the official for the specific code section he was referring to so that the owner (with our guidance) could see exactly what needed to – or not needed to – be done. In the end, the code was clear and the wall was not required to be extended.

This made me think about all the code requirements owners so often think they need to do, or a building official tells them they need to do. Several of the more common ones we hear often are…

  • All exit doors need panic hardware
  • Every entrance/exit door needs to be handicapped accessible
  • Because of the energy code, all exterior door needs a vestibule

I am sure you can add to my list. The truth is that you need to trust the building officials to understand the codes and regulations, BUT you also need to verify with your design professional what needs to be done on your specific project. Our staff at PDMi is a great resource to verify the building codes and government regulations. Call us, we would be happy to help. As Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but Verify”.

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