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Speakeasy

Sifu

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Sep 3, 2011
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I have a proposal for a basement "speakeasy". Basically a small bar, under an existing A-2. The main issue is the fire suppression...or lack thereof. There are are a lot of moving parts and circular references to this but the one thing this keeps coming back to for me is the fact that what we have is a two story A2, N/S, type VB building.

If the space is currently an S-2, and will change to a small bar qualifying as a B due to it's small size and occupant load, the C of O is not to a higher hazard per IEBC 1011.5. The result would be a B under an A-2, which is still questionable but palatable since technically the hazard is not higher?

Here is the real rub: The two spaces are connected by a communicating stairwell, not separated, and will not operate independently, so I think the designation as a B is out since it is now an extension of the A-2 to a lower floor. The result is a larger A-2, spread to another floor, adding to the problems already present in a the A-2, N/S, VB, two story building.

Bottom line is this: Is this DOA since it is a two story with the A-2 on the "second story"? The A-2 above is the level of FD access. Does this help?

If permitted, we could end up with and A-2 with 40 people in the basement, with a single exit, connected to a larger dining and drinking establishment above, being operated as one establishment. Does this fly?

Code and commentary seem to conflate stories and stories above grade plane. 2018 IBC 504.4 says "maximum number of stories of a building", while the commentary says "the height is in number of stories above grade plane"

If we follow the code language, then this wouldn't be permitted as a two story building. If we follow the commentary, then since the A-2 is on the first story above grade plane, is this permitted?

Why me?
 

cda

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Would you say you only have one “ Fire Area”???

Since both are open to each other??
 

Sifu

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Sep 3, 2011
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Yes, without complete separation by fire barriers or horizontal assemblies it is one fire area.
 

cda

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Sounds like since one open area, sounds like fire sprinkler required

And both floors are “A”

Can’t answer if legal or not
 

classicT

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Aug 2, 2017
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Washington State
The two spaces are connected by a communicating stairwell, not separated, and will not operate independently, so I think the designation as a B is out since it is now an extension of the A-2 to a lower floor.
I 100% agree with this portion of your break down. Classifying the lower level as a B is incorrect; it is a part of the A-2.
 

Sifu

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So far it seems y'all are on the same page with occupancy classification. Now about the apparent disparity between the enforceable language of the code, and the stated/perceived intent of the commentary....
 

north star

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Oct 19, 2009
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| = | = |

Sifu,

Also add to your equation that because the proposal
is to create a basement bar, ...MOE up those stairs
has a perceived "higher than normal", alcohol
impairment factor.........I would not label the space as
a B Occ.
either !


| = | = |
 

Sifu

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Sep 3, 2011
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Maybe so, but what about accessibility?
Do you have an elevator?
What state are you in?
I am in CO, but as I read it, the space is very small and meets the exception for under 3,000ft² and directly below the accessible level.
 

Robert

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Jan 29, 2016
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284
Location
Pinole, CA
I am in CO, but as I read it, the space is very small and meets the exception for under 3,000ft² and directly below the accessible level.
Hi Sifu, I've been looking at the multi-story exception too, less than 3000 sq. ft./story = no required accessible route from the floor above. My question is: if you have an activity in your new basement (say live music) that was not offered upstairs, would that create an unfair access to able-bodied folks? Would the exception still apply and allow it? Just a hypothetical for my own knowledge. Thanks.
 

steveray

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Nov 25, 2009
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West of the river CT
Hi Sifu, I've been looking at the multi-story exception too, less than 3000 sq. ft./story = no required accessible route from the floor above. My question is: if you have an activity in your new basement (say live music) that was not offered upstairs, would that create an unfair access to able-bodied folks? Would the exception still apply and allow it? Just a hypothetical for my own knowledge. Thanks.
As a "partial" change of use....likely the route would not have to comply.....at least here....

1012.8.1 Partial change in occupancy. Where a portion
of the building is changed to a new occupancy classification,
any alteration shall comply with Sections 705, 806
and 906, as applicable.

If there was an alteration it would get the 20% for sure, if just COU then nothing....
 

Sifu

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Sep 3, 2011
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Hi Sifu, I've been looking at the multi-story exception too, less than 3000 sq. ft./story = no required accessible route from the floor above. My question is: if you have an activity in your new basement (say live music) that was not offered upstairs, would that create an unfair access to able-bodied folks? Would the exception still apply and allow it? Just a hypothetical for my own knowledge. Thanks.
IMHO, it does create an "unequal access" condition, but I also think it meets the exception. I try to remember, the code can't equalize everything, and they wrote in exceptions to try to straddle the fence between 100% equality in access, and reasonable equality in access. If you push too hard it just forces people underground so they came up with a threshold number that helps the tiny mom & pop, while "encouraging" the larger facilities to provide equal access.

Also, not all "handicaps" involve a condition that would prevent access, so by providing an accessible space even if the route isn't accessible, you are still making improvements.

Just my opinion.
 

ADAguy

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Sep 11, 2013
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California
No exception if it is open to the public. You didn't indicate similar service available on the first floor.
 

Sifu

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Sep 3, 2011
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1,559
No exception if it is open to the public. You didn't indicate similar service available on the first floor.
Can you help me understand that statement? I don't see where the exception doesn't apply if it's open to the public. But, in this case the bar below is an extension of the bar above, so similar services are available on the accessible level.
 

RLGA

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Oct 18, 2009
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Phoenix, AZ
So far it seems y'all are on the same page with occupancy classification. Now about the apparent disparity between the enforceable language of the code, and the stated/perceived intent of the commentary....
There really is no disparity, but there is ambiguity; otherwise, you would not have asked the question. Section 504.4 may say only "stories," but the reference in that section is to Table 504.4, which is titled "Allowable Number of Stories Above Grade Plane." Additionally, the section and the chapter are for "building height," which is defined in Chapter 2 as being measured above the grade plane.

However, it appears someone had the same thinking like you, and it was corrected in the 2021 IBC. The section now reads, "The maximum number of stories above grade plane of a building shall not exceed the limits specified in Table 504.4."
 
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