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Old 09-18-2011, 09:44 AM   #1
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Building Code Requirements: Basement Stairs (Quantity)


We are converting an old church into our family's Winery & Dinner Theater. The original church was built in 1930, an an addition was later built in 1958. The original stairs in the 1930 structure lead to the basement from the foyer located in the bell tower. These stairs are no where near in compliance with code, as they have about a 9" rise over a 7" run. Needless to say, they are very steep. The addition built in 1958 provided a "split foyer" entrance on the north east side of the building. The stairs going up to the main level or down to the basement are completely in line with code, providing a 7" rise over an 11" run. Access to the entire basement is achieved with these stairs. You cannot bring the stairs on the 1930 side of the building into compliance because of the lack of head room. There is simply not enough space to do anything with these stairs except (a) leave them as they are, or (b) remove them altogether.

This building is zoned as "Residential", and the city gave us a conditional use permit so that we could have a commercial winery and dinner theater. (It is a small town with a population of 1,000; I imagine it was just easier to give us a permit than to rezone the property.) The basement level of the building will be used solely for wine production and storage, though customers will have access to the "Observation Deck" in order to view the tanks housing our wine that has yet to be bottled. In the floor plan below, the green areas are changes we have already made to the basement level, the yellow areas are planned changes, and everything else is its original condition.

MY QUESTION: Must I have two sets of stairs for this basement? I would very much like to remove the stairs on the 1930s side, but wanted to make sure we would not be committing a code violation by doing so. This would also provide much more floorspace in the foyer on the main level.


Note: The exterior windows in the basement level floor plan below are 2'-9" wide x 2' tall and are 6' from the floor.


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Old 09-18-2011, 10:00 AM   #2
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Building Code Requirements: Basement Stairs (Quantity)


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We are converting an old church into our family's Winery & Dinner Theater. The original church was built in 1930, an an addition was later built in 1958. The original stairs in the 1930 structure lead to the basement from the foyer located in the bell tower. These stairs are no where near in compliance with code, as they have about a 9" rise over a 7" run. Needless to say, they are very steep. The addition built in 1958 provided a "split foyer" entrance on the north east side of the building. The stairs going up to the main level or down to the basement are completely in line with code, providing a 7" rise over an 11" run. Access to the entire basement is achieved with these stairs. You cannot bring the stairs on the 1930 side of the building into compliance because of the lack of head room. There is simply not enough space to do anything with these stairs except (a) leave them as they are, or (b) remove them altogether.

This building is zoned as "Residential", and the city gave us a conditional use permit so that we could have a commercial winery and dinner theater. (It is a small town with a population of 1,000; I imagine it was just easier to give us a permit than to rezone the property.) The basement level of the building will be used solely for wine production and storage, though customers will have access to the "Observation Deck" in order to view the tanks housing our wine that has yet to be bottled. In the floor plan below, the green areas are changes we have already made to the basement level, the yellow areas are planned changes, and everything else is its original condition.

MY QUESTION: Must I have two sets of stairs for this basement? I would very much like to remove the stairs on the 1930s side, but wanted to make sure we would not be committing a code violation by doing so. This would also provide much more floorspace in the foyer on the main level.


Note: The exterior windows in the basement level floor plan below are 2'-9" wide x 2' tall and are 6' from the floor.

Just ask the Building Department...they will give you your answer.

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Old 09-18-2011, 10:01 AM   #3
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Building Code Requirements: Basement Stairs (Quantity)


I would think this question would be asked of the building dept as it relates to code, more then convienence.
As an active area for employess, 2 means of egress might be called for.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:12 AM   #4
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I would think this question would be asked of the building dept as it relates to code, more then convienence.
As an active area for employess, 2 means of egress might be called for.
This is a town of 840 people. There is no "building department" to call. I will continue to seek the government body that regulates this sort of thing for this address, but came here to get a professional "opinion".
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:29 AM   #5
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Building Code Requirements: Basement Stairs (Quantity)


I’m sure you will need approval from your States health department before you open. Contact them, I’m sure they could point you in the right direction for the info you need.

In my (former) State the health department had it’s own approval process for construction plans before construction began when it involves restaurants, bars and the like.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:47 AM   #6
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Building Code Requirements: Basement Stairs (Quantity)


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This is a town of 840 people. There is no "building department" to call. I will continue to seek the government body that regulates this sort of thing for this address, but came here to get a professional "opinion".
No building department? Who does you permits and inspections?
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:53 AM   #7
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No building department? Who does you permits and inspections?
No permits and inspections where Iím at either Joe. I know itís a tough one to grasp but these places do exist. Geographically speaking there are probably more areas that donít require than do.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:14 AM   #8
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No permits and inspections where Iím at either Joe. I know itís a tough one to grasp but these places do exist. Geographically speaking there are probably more areas that donít require than do.
Wow!!! That's Scary!!
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:19 PM   #9
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Building Code Requirements: Basement Stairs (Quantity)


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This is a town of 840 people. There is no "building department" to call. I will continue to seek the government body that regulates this sort of thing for this address, but came here to get a professional "opinion".
Professional opinion is based on locale and the building code that over sees that construction and renovation. Commercial establishments will have different parameters then a residential setting.
My professional opinion from NY has no merit in San Francisco.
You need to get advice from someone in your area about the rules involved with your commercial renovations.
A start might be saying where you're located. Maybe some contractors are from your area.
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:19 AM   #10
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Professional opinion is based on locale and the building code that over sees that construction and renovation. Commercial establishments will have different parameters then a residential setting.
My professional opinion from NY has no merit in San Francisco.
You need to get advice from someone in your area about the rules involved with your commercial renovations.
A start might be saying where you're located. Maybe some contractors are from your area.
Apologies. Sully, Iowa in Jasper County. The state of Iowa did pass a law back in 2009 that says jurisdictions that do not have their own inspectors must get permits and get inspected by a state inspector for plumbing and electrical. I do not believe anything else requires inspection. Someone else brought up the department of health for commercial work places; there might be some truth to that in our area (at the state level).
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Old 09-19-2011, 04:01 PM   #11
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This is from the state of Iowa.

How do I get a license to operate a restaurant?

In order to operate a food establishment, you must first contact either the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau or your local health department to apply for the appropriate license. If you are opening a new restaurant, you must also submit building plans of your establishment for review by an inspector (referred to as pre-inspection plan review). No one may open or operate a food establishment in Iowa unless the establishment is inspected before opening and is appropriately licensed. To find out who licenses and inspects food establishments in your area, click on ďMap of Local Food ProgramsĒ found on the Food and Consumer Safety Bureauís home page.

Link to their site. http://dia.iowa.gov/food/controller....mmenu&mode=faq
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Old 09-19-2011, 04:49 PM   #12
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Building Code Requirements: Basement Stairs (Quantity)


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This is from the state of Iowa.

How do I get a license to operate a restaurant?

In order to operate a food establishment, you must first contact either the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau or your local health department to apply for the appropriate license. If you are opening a new restaurant, you must also submit building plans of your establishment for review by an inspector (referred to as pre-inspection plan review). No one may open or operate a food establishment in Iowa unless the establishment is inspected before opening and is appropriately licensed. To find out who licenses and inspects food establishments in your area, click on ďMap of Local Food ProgramsĒ found on the Food and Consumer Safety Bureauís home page.

Link to their site. http://dia.iowa.gov/food/controller....mmenu&mode=faq
Kwik...thanks for finding that link. I should have mentioned that we are not a restaurant. We only make wine and serve alcohol. The "dinner" portion of the dinner theater is outsourced to a catering company. As a result, I'm not sure the code you cite is relevant to us. Thoughts?
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:03 PM   #13
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Building Code Requirements: Basement Stairs (Quantity)


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Kwik...thanks for finding that link. I should have mentioned that we are not a restaurant. We only make wine and serve alcohol. The "dinner" portion of the dinner theater is outsourced to a catering company. As a result, I'm not sure the code you cite is relevant to us. Thoughts?
You seem to be missing the point. It's not who's serving the dinner in the building, but rather that there's dinner being served. And with that, the regulations governing that part of the structure.
If this is your building and there's a restaurant in it, you're responsible for the codes that pertain to the buildings use.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:15 PM   #14
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Have you applied for a liquor license yet?

I think you should stop until you figure out what you can and can not do.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:17 PM   #15
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You seem to be missing the point. It's not who's serving the dinner in the building, but rather that there's dinner being served. And with that, the regulations governing that part of the structure.
If this is your building and there's a restaurant in it, you're responsible for the codes that pertain to the buildings use.
With respect, if I rent out the community center, and have a reception catered, the community center does not become a restaurant governed by the department of health. In our case, the food is prepared off-site, brought to the winery, and then served in a ballroom. This does not make us a restaurant (especially since it will only happen once per week).

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