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Existing code violations-but not within the scope of work

Sifu

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Sep 3, 2011
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I have an existing building with multiple tenant spaces. Per plans the building has a 1-hr rated assembly for separation. Between two of the tenants a pocket door was added some time in the past. I can't be sure, but I believe it was added so that the two tenants could share bathrooms. The door opens to a set of 2 or 3 steps, without a level landing on each side. So I have a breached fire barrier, a sliding door that is not rated, self-closing or latching, no required landing, and a circulation path that is not accessible. The proposal is a B to B tenant finish, none of the work involves this area. The shared bathroom is addressed now because they are adding an accessible bathroom.

The IBC would have issues with all of it but does the IEBC give all of this a pass since none of it is in the "work area"? Would "unsafe" apply to the missing protected opening? How about the missing landing? Would the door between the two be considered a route to the primary function area (circulation path) and be required to be upgraded?

In general, do most existing violations get the pass if they are not in the scope of work...even if they were installed without a permit or in violation of the codes (but approved) enforced at the time they were constructed?

I know this has probably been debated before but I still have trouble wrapping my head around it.
 

Paul Sweet

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Does the present code require the 1-hour wall?

It might be necessary to make the original restroom accessible if the new restroom isn't on an accessible path for both tenants.
 

rktect 1

Gold Member
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Oct 20, 2009
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Illinois
This is exactly why I liked having two of my inspectors who would work one day each week doing annual fire inspections. Back then we were on top of everything happening. Lots of work without a permits back then. Now, not so much.
 

cda

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If the one hour wall is required, need to fix it.

How was the door found??? Inspection or shown on plans?
 

Inspector Gift

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City of Sandy, Oregon
If there's a FIRE/LIFE/SAFETY violation, then it needs to be corrected, because it has been made known to the authority having jurisdiction, (and this public forum). The alternative is to ignore the violation and thus make the jurisdiction liable for willful negligence at the minimum.
 

Sifu

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The wall is not required as far as I can tell. BUT, how does anyone know if it was put in as the result of some previous alternate method or agreement from a previous official? I looked at all the previous plans for the address....and not a single one were prepared by a DP, and the door is shown in all of them in one fashion or another. The core shell docs from 20+ years ago aren't around anymore, but my assumption is the door wasn't there, or the rated assembly wasn't there. My guess is that somebody with limited knowledge saw steel studs and 5/8" gyp and figured it would be an easy sell to call it a rated wall, and it stuck through the years, but how is anyone to know? The first time a hole got punched in it somebody should have said something. Even so, the missing landing and ramp don't make sense. The bosses are asking good questions....like how did this happen, how has it been approved for 20 years etc. The can has now been kicked down the road to me, and I am on the hook. IEBC clearly indicates it applies to work areas, and unless 115.1 is used for an unsafe condition, I am not sure how it could be enforced.

This question and others like it have plagued me about the IEBC. Some very respected experts think if it is existing and not being touched (not in the work area) then it was approved and have a nice day, except for some very specific conditions which explicitly spell out the increase in scope. Others believe the IEBC was written assuming that the existing conditions met the code under which the now non-compliant condition was written, and therefore can remain until touched, but if non-compliant from day one then all bets are off. That particular position carries a high threshold to prove or disprove compliance. I think I have it worked out in a way that keeps everybody employed but I would really feel better if I could get some definitive guidance on the IEBC.
 

cda

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The wall is not required as far as I can tell. BUT, how does anyone know if it was put in as the result of some previous alternate method or agreement from a previous official? I looked at all the previous plans for the address....and not a single one were prepared by a DP, and the door is shown in all of them in one fashion or another. The core shell docs from 20+ years ago aren't around anymore, but my assumption is the door wasn't there, or the rated assembly wasn't there. My guess is that somebody with limited knowledge saw steel studs and 5/8" gyp and figured it would be an easy sell to call it a rated wall, and it stuck through the years, but how is anyone to know? The first time a hole got punched in it somebody should have said something. Even so, the missing landing and ramp don't make sense. The bosses are asking good questions....like how did this happen, how has it been approved for 20 years etc. The can has now been kicked down the road to me, and I am on the hook. IEBC clearly indicates it applies to work areas, and unless 115.1 is used for an unsafe condition, I am not sure how it could be enforced.

This question and others like it have plagued me about the IEBC. Some very respected experts think if it is existing and not being touched (not in the work area) then it was approved and have a nice day, except for some very specific conditions which explicitly spell out the increase in scope. Others believe the IEBC was written assuming that the existing conditions met the code under which the now non-compliant condition was written, and therefore can remain until touched, but if non-compliant from day one then all bets are off. That particular position carries a high threshold to prove or disprove compliance. I think I have it worked out in a way that keeps everybody employed but I would really feel better if I could get some definitive guidance on the IEBC.


1. It has to be maintained as one hour, or whatever the rated wall in any building is.

2. In your case, besides the door, I am guessin there are plenty of penetrations/ holes.
 

steveray

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Nov 25, 2009
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West of the river CT
IEBC
701.2 Conformance. An existing building or portion thereof
shall not be altered such that the building becomes less safe
than its existing condition.
Exception: Where the current level of safety or sanitation
is proposed to be reduced, the portion altered shall conform
to the requirements of the International Building
Code.
 

Teeshot

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Pleasanton CA
Regardless of the applicable code, or the reason you found/observed the illegal issues, if it compromises the integrity of the building, e.g. rated wall, assembly, etc., or can be considered a life/safety hazard in its current condition, steps should be taken to correct the violation(s). Litigation is not a nice place to visit if something goes wrong.
 

Sifu

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IEBC 115.1 is cited for the fire barrier, which they complied with. Boss determined a missing landing is not an unsafe condition. They have installed a rated opening protective, and agreed to mitigate the accessibility issue within a time frame yet to be determined.
 

mtlogcabin

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Oct 17, 2009
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Big Sky Country
In general, do most existing violations get the pass if they are not in the scope of work...even if they were installed without a permit or in violation of the codes (but approved) enforced at the time they were constructed?
You have two separate issues here.
One is a violation
The other is permitted renovations/work in a specific area.
It does not matter how you gained knowledge of the violation you do not require the correction of the violation to be incorporated into the permitted work if it is not located in the work area of the permitted use.
Treat the violation as a stand alone item which it is
 

cda

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IEBC 115.1 is cited for the fire barrier, which they complied with. Boss determined a missing landing is not an unsafe condition. They have installed a rated opening protective, and agreed to mitigate the accessibility issue within a time frame yet to be determined.

And the rest of the penetrations / holes in the wall?
Above the drop ceiling
 

ADAguy

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Sep 11, 2013
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California
Does the present code require the 1-hour wall?

It might be necessary to make the original restroom accessible if the new restroom isn't on an accessible path for both tenants.
Does the tenant wall stOPat iling or go full height? Sprinklered?
 
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