Renovation and Change of Use

Renovating your home or business is a great option for improving your building’s functionality, aesthetics, and durability. When it comes to additions and changing a building’s use the design becomes more difficult because of zoning and building codes. This blog highlights what to watch out for when considering complex renovations and shows the amazing transformations that can be done to existing structures.

Flexibility of Buildings

The fun stuff first. With a great understanding of construction and building codes you would be amazed at the possibilities and how drastically existing buildings can be modified. Here are some before and afters we have done.

Private Residence



Zoning, Measuring, and Feasibility.

We are always discussing the importance of zoning and feasibility. Our process always starts here, at minimum with a zoning review. Check out our blogs on these topics in the links below.

Steps for Measuring your Building:

Zoning Basics:

Building Code and Change of Use

Building codes are difficult to understand and interpret. If your changing the use of an existing structure one of the most important things to understand is that you will be required to bring the entire structure up to the code requirements for the new use.

Code Review Plan

Why the building code is more strict for different uses.

When buildings are considered more dangerous to more people, this is when you will find stricter code. The more people using the building the safer the building must be built. A stadium, for example serves tens of thousands of people, and therefore is more strict than say, a restaurant serving hundreds of people. Other characteristics which make building codes more strict are hazardous materials, transient versus non-transient occupants, and occupant types, such as those unable to escape during an emergency.

As an example, converting an existing home to a business could be a greater undertaking than your assumptions. There are three major parts to the building code to consider early in the process.

Fire Safety:

If you are converting an existing structure to provide a different use, or more than one use you will be required to provide proper fire safety and proper fire separation between uses. This fire separation is measured in hours and varies depending on the use type and size of the structure. Fire sprinklers are another fire safety component which may be required and can be expensive. Although they are expensive, they relax a lot of restriction in the building code in ways which may ultimately save money. Not all fire sprinklers are made the same. There are several different types, some cheaper than others. Depending on the use and other safety elements will determine the type of fire sprinklers you need for your project.


When it comes to building code, egress is always a major consideration. Depending on the function of the spaces and new wall and door locations will change the safety of your existing building. This is due to the different distances and sizes of paths used when escaping your building during an emergency. Changing a building’s use, changes the number of occupants using the building. Depending on the number of increased occupants will then determine the distance and sizes needed for emergency escape to be considered a safe path of egress.


Accessibility in the building code are standards set in place to allow buildings to be both functional and flexible for people with disabilities. Accessibility is much more than a ramp and 3-foot-wide doors. From the height of the toilet seat to the maneuver clearance around doors, accessibility effects many components of a building. Failure to comply can be very costly.

Design for All Phases

Design for all phases regardless of your current construction budget because each phase will affect the other. The last thing you want to be doing is demolishing newly constructed parts of your building to make way for new phases. Designing for the future will save you time and money in the long run.

Phasing a Home

Interested in starting your next renovation project? Check out our blog page for more helpful insight or give us a call to find out about our consultation options.

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