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Converting 2 family to a 3 family. 2 story house with basement

We are in the beginning stages of converting a 1910 semi detached house from a two family to a three fam. Currently set up as a two family with a basement.  We are hearing mixed things from different architects – the most concering are the Fire code issues (Sprinkler System and Building Access (Handicap access to garden level unit).1. Some architects are saying that the whole house will need to be updated to 2008 building codes. Sprinkler systems would need to be installed throughout the whole house. Others say that we can install sprinkler systems according to 1968 buildings code. In this case, sprinklers would need only be installed throughout hallways. but we will need a fire escape from 2nd floor. 2. Some architects told us that the entrance to the basement level would need to be updated for handicap access. Right now, it's a couple of steps down from the curb to the entrance. Other architects say it's not necessary.Why am I hearing all this discrepancy? Has anyone dealt with this, in regards to the sprinkler fire escape systems and entrance situation?

  • August 08 2013 - Ridgewood
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Answers (2)

I think you are dealing with the 'too many chiefs and not enough Indians' saying here.
I worked with a company a few years ago that had the same problem ... there was to many facts based upon opinions.
It is best to locate your local code office that can tell you exactly what you need and what they require, after all they have the keys to the kingdom here if the inspection in going to be coming out of their office.

Local Electrical Code for underground service, pipe is 2in. Power Company says 'no' 3in...guess who wins?
-Joseph-
  • August 23 2013
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I agree with Joseph in general, however, I have found sometimes that homeowners don't know how to get the right answers when they go to the Building Department because they don't always know what questions to ask. Depending on who is behind the desk, they may be able to give you good guidance, but they sometimes don't, because they only answer the questions you ask, rather than the ones you ought to be asking.

Re: the discrepancies in what your architects are telling you - people tend to answer based on their personal experience. The codes, and the degree to which they are enforced, vary somewhat between jurisdictions.

If I were you, I would go ahead and talk to Building and Safety yourself, keep written documentation of everything that is said, who you talked to and their contact information, then give it to the architect whose work you like the best and pay them to go verify what you have found out as part of the Programming phase of your project.
  • October 23 2013
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