1. Welcome to the new and improved Building Code Forum. We appreciate you being here and hope that you are getting the information that you need concerning all codes of the building trades. This is a free forum to the public due to the generosity of the Sawhorses, Corporate Supporters and Supporters who have upgraded their accounts. If you would like to have improved access to the forum please upgrade to Sawhorse by clicking here: Upgrades
    Dismiss Notice

Building vs. Enclosure Distinction?

Discussion in 'Welcome Forum' started by Paul Bixel, Feb 15, 2018.

  1. Paul Bixel

    Paul Bixel Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Hi Folks,

    I am an electrical engineer, no so familiar with building codes. The subject of building code comes up in my world when designing outdoor electrical equipment as to what constitutes a "building" subject to codes. For example at every intersection with a stoplight I can see a stainless steel enclosure that encloses the electrical controls for that intersection. Is that enclosure subject to building codes? Is it a building and if not why not?

    Thanks,
    Paul
     
  2. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,084
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Welcome
     
  3. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,084
    Likes Received:
    1,131

    Normally not a Building

    Size for one/ piece of equipment
     
  4. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,084
    Likes Received:
    1,131
  5. Paul Bixel

    Paul Bixel Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks for these responses. But in 312.1 of this code I see Group U covering structures not meant to be occupancies but still having code requirements. For example a 'tank' or a 'fence' is a structure that is covered by this code and it is not meant to be shelter or occupancy.

    I need some text to point and AHJ to that says "Only 'buildings' are in the scope of this code". Instead I have the Group U classification seeming to say exactly the opposite that all structures must be classified into an Occupancy class.
     
  6. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,084
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    You look at the examples given for a “U”

    I am thinking yours does not fall under them.



    If you were doing something the size of a cell tower site Building, than I would call it a Building.


    312.1General.

    Buildings and structures of an accessory character and miscellaneous structures not classified in any specific occupancy shall be constructed, equipped and maintained to conform to the requirements of this code commensurate with the fire and life hazard incidental to their occupancy. Group U shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

    • Agricultural buildings

    • Aircraft hangars, accessory to a one- or two-family residence (see Section 412.4)

    • Barns

    • Carports

    • Communication equipment structures with a gross floor area of less than 1,500 square feet (139 m2)

    • Fences more than 6 feet (1829 mm) in height

    • Grain silos, accessory to a residential occupancy



    • Livestock shelters

    • Private garages

    • Retaining walls

    • Sheds

    • Stables

    • Tanks

    • Towers
     
  7. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,741
    Likes Received:
    474
    Paul, A similar thing would be a deck. Not a building, but a structure. When we say "supports an occupancy" this generally means that someone is in the building or using the structure to do something (living, working, etc.). If you are designing an enclosure and someone will need to enter it to service equipment, it would likely be subject to the building code (telephone switchers, electrical vaults). If someone is just reaching into the cabinet to maintain it (like those controlling traffic lights), then they are not regulated by the building code.
     
  8. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,084
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    105.2Work exempt from permit.
    Exemptions from permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction. Permits shall not be required for the following:

    1. Building:
      1. 1.One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided that the floor area is not greater than 120 square feet (11 m2).
     
    my250r11 likes this.
  9. Paul Sweet

    Paul Sweet Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,188
    Likes Received:
    184
    If the enclosure is for a single piece of equipment it probably wouldn't be considered a building. If it is large enough for more than one piece of equipment and has space for somebody to enter it and work on the equipment it's likely to be considered a building. IBC 105 exempts buildings under 120 SF from needing a permit.
     
    my250r11 likes this.
  10. Paul Bixel

    Paul Bixel Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    I am thinking of an equipment enclosure that is not intended to be entered. It is intended that you remove the covers and reach in to service it and then replace the cover or close the door when done.

    But people here do not like risk of any kind that they will run afoul of an AHJ. So wording like "shall include, but not be limited to, the following:" does not help me at all. It just throws doubt in the minds of people like myself who are not experts and at the mercy of arbitrary interpretations.

    105.2 does help if the enclosure is small enough but for larger pieces then what? We have large pieces of equipment. They are larger than 120 sq ft. but the enclosure does not permit an adult to get inside. You are intended to reach in to service and then replace the covers or close the access doors.

    I do appreciate the comments.
     
  11. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,741
    Likes Received:
    474
    I would not want to consider the equipment as a building because I would have no idea what to enforce. Building codes are designed primarily to ensure occupants can get out of building/structures in an emergency. Yes, they do other things too, but on a fundamental level, this is the function. If a person physically cannot get in there to begin with, I want no part of that liability.
     
    my250r11 likes this.
  12. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,084
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    58513ECB-649A-4EB8-ACC9-B2B6580171EF.jpeg






    It is a piece of equipment

    Like an above ground transformer box or:::

    The picture above


    Normally does not fall under the building code.
     
  13. Paul Bixel

    Paul Bixel Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    What is pictured is an excellent example of a structure in my world. You could also imagine a row of 10 of these all lined up. Maybe even taller or deeper boxes.

    "Normally does not fall under the building code" is perfectly understandable and reasonable to me. But the lawyers involved would want chapter and verse of why such a structure does not fall under the building code when other structures such as fences do.

    When there is money involved nobody wants a surprise. That's the only explanation I can give for such a question as this. I hope you can forgive me for posing it.
     
    cda likes this.
  14. Rick18071

    Rick18071 Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,275
    Likes Received:
    288
    I would only require an electrical permit for something like this.
     
  15. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,084
    Likes Received:
    1,131


    No problem the strange questions are fun, and I ask them also
     
  16. mtlogcabin

    mtlogcabin Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    7,542
    Likes Received:
    916
    [A] 101.3 Intent.
    The purpose of this code is to establish the minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment and to provide safety to fire fighters and emergency responders during emergency operations.

    Unless your equipment supports a Risk Category III or IV occupancy there would be no building permits because you are not building or constructing onsite. A building permit may be required for the foundation/pad to ensure it will with stand seismic and wind loads for the Risk Category III or IV so they remain operational after a natural disaster. Think cell tower equipment, emergency generators, electrical equipment supporting police and fire communications at towers, etc
     
    Ty J. and my250r11 like this.
  17. my250r11

    my250r11 Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2015
    Messages:
    607
    Likes Received:
    179
    Think mtlogcabin hit the nail on the head!
     
    Ty J. likes this.
  18. Paul Bixel

    Paul Bixel Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    mtlogcabin,

    Unfortunately for me our equipment is sometimes used for Category III purposes such "Power-generating stations, water treatment facilities for potable water, waste water treatment facilities and other public utility facilities not included in Risk Category IV." as discussed here
    https://www2.iccsafe.org/cs/committeeArea/pdf_file/BU_12_113_12.pdf

    Also the photo shared above is of a traffic light controller. That would seem to meet the definition of a Risk Cat III structure according to this link since failure would cause a substantial hazard to human life.

    So are we saying then that the risk category is what requires compliance with the building code?
     
  19. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,084
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    F

    NO

    If what is being looked at does not fall under the “ scope” of IBC.

    Than none of IBC applies
     
  20. mtlogcabin

    mtlogcabin Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    7,542
    Likes Received:
    916
    ASCE 7-10 Section 13.6.4 thru 13.6.6 is probably where you will find your answer for how to design your equipment enclosures that will meet code. The foundation/pad, anchorage and fastener design requirements are also within Chapter 13 of ASCE 7-10.
    The traffic light controller is not be a Risk Cat III structure failure is not a substantial hazard to human life.
     

Share This Page