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Areas Above Interior Office Spaces

Discussion in 'Commercial Building Codes' started by north star, May 20, 2020.

  1. north star

    north star Sawhorse

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    > * < * > * <

    I have a project for new commercial construction,
    whereas two existing, interior work bays will be converted
    in to a 20' x 40' set of office spaces...….New wood framed
    walls with new electrical, HVAC, Lighting, Comm. \ I.T. and

    thermal insulation in the walls and above a drop ceiling.
    There is a sufficient amount of restroom fixtures already
    on the site...……..The applicable Codes & Standards are:
    the `18 family of I-Codes, the `10 ADASAD & the `17
    A117.1.

    Wooden ceiling joists are planned for install above this

    office area......I am not sure of the framing layout for
    these ceiling joists as I do not have any actual plans \
    drawings yet......It is in the "conceptual stage" of design.


    I know that I will have to check the Span Tables for the
    correct sizing of ceiling joists......I plan to do that after
    I receive a Framing Layout.....Currently, there are no plans,
    as I understand it, to have the area above the drop ceiling

    to be used as storage, only as part of the framing below.


    Q1): Should the area above these office spaces have a
    minimum Load Rating, or is it even required ?
    Q2): What thickness of plywood is required for this area ?

    Q3): Are ADA \ Accessibility Standards required to access
    this area ?
    Q4): Is Guard Railing required for this elevated area ?

    Q5): Is lighting required for this area ?
    Q6): Does this area have a defined name according to
    the I-Codes ?


    Thank you for your input !

    > * < * > * <
     
  2. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Does the building have a fire sprinkler system?
     
  3. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    If they don't want to use it for anything call it a ceiling.......If they do, and in all likelyhood it will, be used to store crap...Then design it per the appropriate storage loads...
     
  4. north star

    north star Sawhorse

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    @ = @ = +

    cda, ...I do not know about any fire sprinkler system.
    I have not actually been to the site......Again, this
    proposal is in the early design stages.......I am still
    gathering info.

    Thank you
    **steveray** !......I agree in that the
    area
    above the office spaces [ will most likely ] become
    a storage area.

    + = @ = @
     
  5. Builder Bob

    Builder Bob Sawhorse

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    Chapter 16 Structural Design - Use a professional Engineer or use trusses - save a bunch of money due to restrictive spans required by prescriptive codes - Also check State Law, some states require an Architect for modifications to buildings of a certain occupancy type or Size - SC is 5,000 SF or A, E, H, I.
     
  6. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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    Q1: Depends on actual purpose. If it is to be a walkable ceiling then 20psf with 200lbs concentrated load is a minimum we would use. This 20psf and 200lbs point load is borrowed from the standard roof load. I'm basing this on walkable ceiling above work areas we have regularly done. Load rating can be increased depending on use or activity anticipated or may be bare minimum for dead load and collateral loads if not accessible.

    Q2: Would depend on Q1 and fire rating requirements.

    Q3: In general, no.

    Q4: Yes if it has an open side or change in elevation at a height that makes guardrails required. Off the top of my head I think that change of elevation needing guardrail is 30 inches or more. You can verify this.

    Q5: Depends on purpose. At a minimum, if regular maintenance access is to be expected, we would provide minimum lighting to support a defined maintenance path and some emergency lighting.

    Q6: Not that I am aware of. In dealing with AHJ, we have used the industry term "walk on ceiling" which most have been familiar with. It denotes that the space is mainly for maintenance access activities and is therefore a utility space but just so happen to be of a dimension and capacity to allow for people to walk on them. As codes changed and most of the old guard had moved on, we found that newer AHJ frowned upon the term "walk on ceiling" as it somewhat denoted continuous occupancy... hence we switched to using the term "unoccupied space above". Same thing rebranded: utility space.
     
  7. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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    Hard to speculate at this point when there's still information pending.
    Just based on past experience, if area above the ceiling and ceiling itself is non-combustible, it may not be required to have sprinklers. Of course we've also sprinklered non-combustible spaces above the ceiling as well either because of insurance or actual activity intended or both. Depends on situation so definitely need more information on this.

    The likelihood of it becoming a storage area is also hard to speculate at this point. There's a balance that needs to happen in assuming and anticipating use beyond what is to be approved from safety, liability and budget.

    My take on this is that access and loading will limit that possibility of it being a storage from the get go and it would be illegal if they choose to do so when it is not approved for it. So the possibility of them willfully and knowingly defying law or endangering safety should be low.

    Will it stop them from completely doing so? Absolutely not. We're not that naive so I do understand trying to "dummy proof" something as much as possible but oftentimes that becomes an untenable task. We can only do so much.

    Instead of trying to "dummy proof", I found the opposite to be better at least for me which is "enabling responsibility and accountability".

    This means: dialogue, document and inform.

    Dialogue and keep lines of communication open.

    Document what has taken place for future reference.

    Inform benefits of compliance and consequences of non-compliance.
     
  8. ADAguy

    ADAguy Registered User

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    You have not indicated if this area is open to the floor below (as in a mezzanine or not?) If a mezzanine that brings up a whole other set of questions?
     
  9. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    There is that pesky “non design” fire code

    2015 ifc


    315.3.4 Attic, Under-Floor and Concealed Spaces

    Attic, under-floor and concealed spaces used for storage of combustible materials shall be protected on the storage side as required for 1-hour fire-resistance-rated construction. Openings shall be protected by assemblies that are self-closing and are of noncombustible construction or solid wood core not less than 13/4 inches (44.5 mm) in thickness. Storage shall not be placed on exposed joists.

    Exceptions:
    1. Areas protected by approved automatic sprinkler systems.
    2. Group R-3 and Group U occupancies.
     
  10. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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    Agreed. Key here is phrase "used for storage of combustible materials...".

    Really need to find out if that is the purpose of the area above or are we just guessing, assuming or anticipating at this point.

    If owner make their plans clear of either using it as future storage or even potential future office space, I would actually recommend that they put in their sprinklers or even just the piping or tie-offs for it now rather than later from a constructability standpoint at least.

    As it stands right now just based on initial description, it falls under Exception 2 as a Group U occupancy and owner will need to legally abide by process of changing its occupancy type in the future if and when they make a change to its purpose.
     
    #10 Enri Code, May 22, 2020
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  11. Enri Code

    Enri Code Sawhorse

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