Building codes—both residential and commercial—are constantly changing. New regulations are always being added, and the interpretation of existing regulations can change as well.
As a Long Beach architecture firm, we find ourselves constantly looking up various codes as they relate to specific aspects of our projects, but it’s also important for us as architects to have a good basic understanding of what we can and can’t do. Not having general knowledge about building codes could be very costly for our clients in more ways than one.
Remodel or New Build?
One area that architects need to be very aware of when it comes building codes is what constitutes a remodel and what is considered a “new build.” A major remodel of a home or commercial building could easily turn into what the city would consider a new build if an architect isn’t careful.
Why does this distinction matter? Well, because when a project is considered a new build, it means that the entire home or building must be brought up to current building standards, not just the portion being remodeled. For a commercial building, this could mean adding fire sprinklers to the whole building. Or, if it’s an older building, it may mean upgrading all of the electrical and plumbing.
In the not-too-distant future, all new residential projects will be required to be powered by solar systems, so if your residential remodel in Long Beach turns into what the city considers a new build, you will be required to install solar panels whether or not you want to. Solar panels can be a great addition to a home, but they can also add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of the project that a homeowner is not anticipating.
Not Just Money, But Time
Having a good grasp on local building codes doesn’t just save our clients money, it can also save time. When an architect can design to code the first time, it prevents a lot of back and forth with the city and keeps a project timeline on track.
It’s also important that an architect is familiar with the popular interpretations of various codes. At M. Grisafe Architects, we have a great relationship with the people in the City of Long Beach’s planning department. We’ve worked hard over the years to learn what’s important to them and how they interpret certain codes that can be somewhat ambiguous.
It’s almost impossible for an architect to keep track of every building code on the books, but knowing the important ones, taking the time to look up the ones we aren’t sure about, and asking the right questions can really keep a project on track—both in terms of time and money.
If you are looking for a commercial or residential architect in Long Beach who will look out for your best interests and work hard to make sure your project stays on budget and is completed in a timely manner, contact us at M. Grisafe Architects. We look forward to hearing from you and discussing your upcoming project.