Re: Is the Common House a Public Building?
From: Philip Proefrock (
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 07:32:13 -0800 (PST)
I think that the determination of whether or not a common house is a public
building or not, and the associated questions of what level of construction is
required for it, will be largely determined by the local code officials.  

And, in my experience, depending on the particular code officials you are
dealing with, this can either be a very difficult process, or something that
they will "get" and work with you on.  Some code officials will insist on their
interpretation of a situation.

Your architect should be your advocate in this process.  If the interpretation
you have gotten from the reviewer is slanted too far from what you feel it
should rightly be (i.e. they think you need to meet commercial kitchen code),
there is usually some sort of appeals process where you should be able to make
a case for your interpretation.  There is usually a fee for this, and any
professionals (architects, lawyers, etc.) who accompany you will be billing for
their time, so the cost considerations do need to be evaluated.

If you are early enough in the process, you can probably even meet with the
local building official, and talk to them about the project before it is
officially submitted for review.  Getting an early read on their interpretation
can be helpful in identifying potential problem areas in order to address them

On a recent library project I worked on, for example, we found that we could
avoid many problems by not putting a cooktop in the kitchen (which wasn't
really necessary anyhow; all they really wanted was an oven for warming food
during catered events).  This kept it from being seen as a commercial kitchen. 
While this isn't directly applicable for a common house, my point is that we
asked about this early, and then adjusted our design accordingly.

Philip Proefrock

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