Congratulations! Your church is growing and it’s time to expand your worship space to accommodate more people. Or perhaps you’ve decided to set up a daycare center on the church property. Maybe you’re remodeling a building that was formerly a retail space into a multi-ministry worship space.
Whatever the reason, these are exciting times for your church leaders, and probably stressful as well. There are a lot of details that must be considered before you can begin a church remodeling project or take on a church building redesign, especially when it comes to building, fire and zoning codes. For example, in addition to planning that the daycare will have enough bathrooms for the number of children, you also need to make sure you have enough exits and stairwells. You also need to make sure additions don’t encroach on the setback with your building expansion.
Zoning Laws for Church Remodeling
A setback isn’t what happens when you disobey the zoning laws (although that could cause a different kind of setback, in your renovation schedule); it’s actually a zoning law itself. A setback is the distance between the edge of your property line and where you can build, and it’s mandated by the city, town or county where your property is located. Even if your building has been around for many years, setbacks can change, so it’s something important to be aware of when planning a new or expanded space.
Other zoning laws that could impact your plans include relatively small things like signs—where and how they are set up, what they are made of, how big or high they are—and also larger issues such as whether the neighborhood is even zoned to allow a daycare center, school, or homeless ministry.
Building and Fire Codes for Church Building Redesigns
Another important consideration for your project are building and fire codes. Church leaders often believe that whenever any church remodeling work is done, the entire facility must be brought up to meet all current building codes. This is not necessarily so; often just the part of the property that is being remodeled has to meet all current building codes.
Other important codes have to do with the requirements for different construction types: whether your building is made of flammable materials like wood frame walls, floors and roofs, or noncombustible materials like concrete block and steel. In all states except Ohio, churches which hold over 300 people must have a working sprinkler system for fire suppression. So, if there is no existing sprinkler system in the building, that will add to the cost of your church remodeling project.
There’s also the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA to consider. If your church doesn’t meet these standards already, it might mean adding handicapped stalls to restrooms and hall ramps where stairs exist as part of your remodeling project.
Zoning laws and building codes are important aspects of any church remodeling project and can be complicated to work through. To learn more, sign up for our free i3 webinar series or contact The McKnight Group today to find out how we can help you understand, and comply with the laws and codes in your area.