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Stairwell width for existing building.

Discussion in 'Existing Buildings Codes' started by beachmonkey, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    I am thinking of leasing a space on the 4th floor of a 4 story building in Myrtle beach, SC that hasnt been used in a long time. the building was built in 1982.

    the Space will be for low occupancy office/studio (less than 49 people, but usually only 1-2 people) and not open to the public.

    I was told by the city that they wont allow any occupancy because the stairwells are too narrow and need to be widened). the stairwells are enclosed in firewalls and it would be easier to tear the whole building down.

    I measured the stairwell between the hand rails. it measures 37.5 inches in the front stairwell, and 49.5 inches in the back stairwell.

    I read a code somewhere that for a non-sprinklered space, that has an occupancy less than 50, the minimum is 36 inches and the minimum width for over 50 is 44 inches.

    I also read that the forumula for minimum stairwell width is total width (both stairwells) divided by .3 will give you the max occupancy (87 /.3 =290) which is well above my planned 50 or lower occupancy.
    that leads me to my first question: is the minimum stairwell width of 36 or 44 combined or does each stairwell have to adhere to the minimum stairwell width?

    I then read that each floor calculates its own minimum width separately. the 3rd floor is empty and the ground floor has a beachwear store and pizza place (but they have their own separate entrances and exits. The 2nd floor has a teen night club with a max occupancy of 375. It has been there for over 10 years, so i am guessing that their minimum stairwell width was grandfathered in from an older code.

    I read that the stairwell width is dictated by the floor with the highest occupancy. the current code would make the club have a combined stairwell width of 112.5 inches (25.5 inches too narrow) but since they are grandfathered in, they do not need to fix the stairwell.

    because they are grandfathered in old codes, does this make any other floors not to be occupied because any new business will have to adhere to new codes? before i could locate on a different floor, would i have to do the impossible and widen the stairwell because of the business on the 2nd floor?
     
  2. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Is the building in use now??

    If so which floors are occupied?
     
  3. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    the building is occupied on the ground floor (divided into two separate business however their entrances are separate from the upper floors). The 2nd floor is occupied by a teen nightclub with a 375 person capacity.

    the 3rd and 4th floors are empty. I want to rent the 4th floor.
     
  4. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    The stair is the same width at the top as it is at the bottom??
     
  5. Rick18071

    Rick18071 Sawhorse

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    Does the building have a "Certification of Occupancy"? What is the classification of the building and different floors? Will this be a "Change of Occupancy"? If the 4th floor has a "B" occupancy already and no changes are being made I don't know why they are requiring anything.
     
  6. RLGA

    RLGA Sawhorse

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    Stairway width is not measured between the handrails. Handrails can project up to 4-1/2 inches into the required stairway width; thus, the width of a stairway could be as much as 9 inches more than the clear width between the handrails.

    If one handrail is mounted on a wall, then you would measure to the wall as long as it is no more than 4-1/2 inches from the stair-side edge of the handrail. If the other handrail is mounted on a guard, then you would measure to the stair-side face of the guard (assuming the guard height is higher than the handrail height). If the railing is an older railing with the handrail on top of the guard, then you just add 4-1/2 inches to the clear width.
     
  7. RLGA

    RLGA Sawhorse

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    Is the building sprinklered and does it have an emergency voice/alarm communication system? If so, the capacity of the stairs can be determined at 0.2 inches per occupant instead of 0.3 inches per occupant.
     
  8. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    yes, its the same width the whole way down.
     
  9. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    i dont know about the change of occupancy but i called the zoning board and a low occupancy office is within the current zoning. I know it was a nightclub a long time ago, but someone went in there 5 or 6 years ago and stripped it down to a shell (just bare concrete walls, floors and metal ceiling beams)
     
  10. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    there isnt a sprinkler system but i do see old pull alarms on the walls where there was an alarm system.
     
  11. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    its an old railing with the handrail on top.
    this would mean that the front stairwell is 51 inches
    and the back stairwell is 56.5 inches

    thanks, this is very good to know.
     
  12. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    I would say it met code when it was built

    You are not changing the use, so should be good to go.

    Is the owner of the building helping you in any way with this problem?
     
  13. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    the current businesses in the building are. They want to see the top floor rented out because homeless people and criminals keep breaking in and causing problems up there because they know its vacant.

    thanks for your help
     
  14. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Who, what title?? is the person telling you the stairs are no good ??
     
  15. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    he's the plan reviewer. He's the guy who approves if you can put a business in a space or not according to the building codes.
     
  16. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Would politely ask to discuss this with that person’s boss

    If they have one
     
  17. Rick18071

    Rick18071 Sawhorse

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    According to 2015 IEBC for a partial building change of occupancy or/and a alteration;
    If you are not working on the stairway you should not be required to change it.

    403.1 General. Except as provided by Section 401.2 or this
    section, alterations to any building or structure shall comply
    with the requirements of the International Building Code for
    new construction. Alterations shall be such that the existing
    building or structure is no less conforming to the provisions
    of the International Building Code than the existing building
    or structure was prior to the alteration.
    Exceptions:
    1. An existing stairway shall not be required to comply
    with the requirements of Section 1011 of the International
    Building Code where the existing space and
    construction does not allow a reduction in pitch or
    slope.
    2. Handrails otherwise required to comply with Section
    1011.11 of the International Building Code
    shall not be required to comply with the requirements
    of Section 1014.6 of the International Building
    Code regarding full extension of the handrails
    where such extensions would be hazardous due to
    plan configuration.

    But any work that you are doing need to comply with code. This includes accessibility requirements. If you need to build a restroom it is required to be accessible. Doors, door hardware, light switches, etc. must comply with accessibility requirements
    Also at least 20% of the cost must go toward an accessible route. This could be taken care of by just building an eleavator foundation.

    410.7 Alterations affecting an area containing a primary
    function. Where an alteration affects the accessibility to, or
    contains an area of primary function, the route to the primary
    function area shall be accessible. The accessible route to the
    primary function area shall include toilet facilities and drinking
    fountains serving the area of primary function.
    Exceptions:
    1. The costs of providing the accessible route are not
    required to exceed 20 percent of the costs of the
    alterations affecting the area of primary function.
    2. This provision does not apply to alterations limited
    solely to windows, hardware, operating controls,
    electrical outlets and signs.
    3. This provision does not apply to alterations limited
    solely to mechanical systems, electrical systems,
    installation or alteration of fire protection systems
    and abatement of hazardous materials.
    4. This provision does not apply to alterations undertaken
    for the primary purpose of increasing the
    accessibility of a facility.
    5. This provision does not apply to altered areas limited
    to Type B dwelling and sleeping units.

    Also I recommend checking the ADA requirements but they are not enforced by the locals.

    The local area could have other laws changing the code and zoning laws that require other things.
     
  18. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

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    You may also see if a timed egress study would be acceptable. This would need to be completed by a fire engineer.
     
  19. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    I was planning on having the fire Marshall in charge of inspecting commercial building codes come out next week.
     
  20. beachmonkey

    beachmonkey Registered User

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    The plumbing is already there for a toilet and sink, i just need have them fitted. the only change to the path of travel or occupancy i will make is the addition of the sink and toilet. I will add grab bars and such. My total cost will be at most $800 for this, so I would only need to spend (i am guessing) $160.

    Everything else i will do is cosmetic or mechanical (painting, adding HVAC to rooftop and splits/ceiling vents). So those shouldnt add into the total path of travel change budget, if i hear what you are saying.
     

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