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RE: BUILDING CODE: Certificate of Occupancy

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Sounds like the space was permitted for one use / occupancy category,
and the church is using it for another with a higher occupancy class.

You cannot exceed the use the building was designed for even under the
older codes.  

Without a single modification, if you want to utilize a Group B space
for an A-3 use, you could trigger a full building upgrade to current
code through the change in occupancy. 

Who would be responsible for it would depend on their arrangement.  The
owner would be required to demonstrate compliance for continued known
use of the higher occupancy class.  The church could be responsible if
they are the ones modifying the use of the space and the needed
modifications fall under a "TI" clause of their agreement.  If they do
not want to do the upgrades, they cannot utilize the space and must rent
an appropriately rated space.  The building owner is renting a "business
/ office space", not an assembly space.

But the fact is that someone will end up having to be responsible in
order to utilize the higher occupancy, or the church will need to move
out.

The importance factors can be different, as well as fire and egress.
Toilet requirements and accessible stall counts come to mind as well.
Even restaurants will have maximum occupancy posted to conform to fire
requirements, and if you cram too many people in you are in violation.




Paul Feather PE, SE
pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net
www.SE-Solutions.net
951-699-2666

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Polhemus [mailto:bill(--nospam--at)polhemus.cc] 
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2009 1:00 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: BUILDING CODE: Certificate of Occupancy

A member of this list referred a friend of a friend to me for help on
this issue.

The client is a church that has set up shop in a small office park
space. The previous occupant of the space was also a "storefront
church," and they simply moved out, and the new church moved in.

There were no changes made to the interior space by the new tenant.

The city has "red tagged" the space, claiming they need to submit a full
set of architectural and engineering drawings for approval in order to
obtain a Certificate of Occupancy in accordance with the City of Houston
Building Code (NOTE: CoH BC is based on IBC 2003).

I have still to do a bit of research on this, but I am puzzled as to why
the tenant is required to do this, if they did no interior alterations. 
Wouldn't this fall under the Owner's responsibility?

Comments gratefully appreciated.



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