Kurt Beres

by Kurt Beres

Director - Technical Services

Top 12 Ohio Building Code Updates for 2016

  • JANUARY 14, 2016
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The Ohio Board of Building Standards has kicked off 2016 with a laundry list of Ohio Building Code updates. Typically, Ohio Building Code updates are grammatical improvements, additional definitions, and minor clarifications to improve the text of the code and enhance understanding of the code’s intent, but the 2016 New Year update is full of code changes. Many of the Ohio Building Code updates realize some of the more desired modifications in later versions of the International Building Code (IBC), which forms the basis of our Ohio Building codes. These changes also address some overdue revisions to clarify the use group and application for some specific building types.

The Laundry List – First, let me start off by saying that this should not be viewed as a complete list of code updates. These are my takeaways after a quick read-through. For a copy of the complete changes to the Ohio Building Code, please visit the Ohio Board of Building Standards. Also, I am leveraging the expertise of M+A’s Healthcare and Higher Education Studio Director, P’liz Koelker, to clarify the changes to ambulatory care facilities.

Below are my insights into the New Year Ohio Building Code updates:

1. While casinos first appeared in Ohio in 2012, they make their debut in the Ohio Building Code as an A2 Use. It’s also important to note that Table 2902.1 has been updated to reflect the required plumbing fixture counts.

Ohio Building Code Updates - Casino Casinos are now fully integrated into Ohio Building code as an A2 Use.

2. Mop sinks are no longer required in mercantile and business uses with an occupant load of less than 15. This represents a square footage of less than 450 sq. ft. for mercantile and 1500 sq. ft. for business, so this isn’t earth shattering, but it goes a long way in addressing actual use where these small spaces are often cleaned with household cleaning products.

3. The required clearances for toilet partitions (excluding accessible facilities) has been updated to distinguish between wall-hung and floor-hung toilets. This recognizes that typical wall-hung toilets are more compact than tank-type and floor-spud toilets, allowing compartments to be reduced from 60 inches to 56 inches.

4. Spaces that are required to have only a single men’s and women’s restroom—with a single water closet and lavatory in each—can each be designated as a unisex restroom. This is a huge improvement for any parent who needs to get their children into a single, public restroom.

5. The exception to 2902.2 has been revised increasing the occupant load, permitted to have a single restroom to serve both men and women in a mercantile use from 50 to 100. Even though, not a reflection of the fixture counts found in Table 2902.1, (if it was a true representation, the occupant load would have been increased 10 fold!) regardless, it’s a welcome change permitting smaller mercantile uses up to 3,000 sq. ft. to have only a single restroom.

6. Cafeterias and similar spaces with a commercial kitchen are also now clarified to be an A2 Use.

7. Hoistway venting for elevators is not required in pressurized elevator shafts per the exception added to 708.14.2.1.

8. Clarifications have been added to distinguish between a doctor’s office and an ambulatory care space. Both are still B Uses, but there was plenty of confusion surrounding the requirements of what could be a doctor’s office and what was required to meet the stricter ambulatory care requirements.

9. Expect to see more questions pertaining to patients being rendered incapable of self-preservation. This will be the primary litmus test for requirements pertaining to ambulatory care spaces.

10. Sprinklers are required in ambulatory care uses when there may be four or more patients incapable of self-preservation on the level of exit discharge or just one patient when the space is on a different level. This may impact dental practices.

11. Manual fire alarms and smoke detection is required for ambulatory care facilities, unless fully sprinklered.

12. The march of the voice notification fire alarm continues and it is now a requirement for ambulatory care. It would not be a surprise that it becomes standard across all project types in the future.

As stated above, for a complete copy of all the 2016 New Year Ohio Building Code updates, please visit the Ohio Board of Building Standards. But I hope my laundry list of takeaways is helpful in the meantime!

Kimball Midwest - M+A Architects Cafeterias with a commercial kitchen are now clarified to be an A2 Use

Kurt Beres

by Kurt Beres

Director - Technical Services

Kurt Beres is the Director of Technical Services. His passion for project management, the Ohio Building Code, and lighting design have made him an expert in various sectors and building types.