Download Small Commercial Business Guide - Pennsafe Building Inspection

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PENNSAFE BUILDING INSPECTION SERVICES LLC
175 Beaver Drive, PO Box 486 – DuBois, PA. 15801
Phone: 814-375-1111
Fax: 814-375-1117
Toll free: 1-855-PENNSAF
GENERAL BUILDING CODE GUIDELINES NECESSARY TO OPEN A SMALL BUSINESS
We have developed this informative handout as a way to describe the general guidelines that are necessary to comply
with municipal approvals and the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) – Act 45 of 1999, before starting plans for a new
business. This information should be seriously considered in the conceptual stage of the process.
You must first visit and obtain zoning or land use approval from the municipality where the proposed business will be
located. The business type, proposed use and all other local requirements must be allowed and met by the municipality
where the building is located. Buildings and uses which offer public occupancy must comply with all applicable Building
Code requirements. Beauty salons, notary offices, used car sales lots, and any other businesses which are open to the
general public are included and must comply. The size of the business or building is not a factor whether or not the
building must meet accessibility code compliance. A building permit must be issued for every commercial project.
If the proposed building is an existing commercial one, you should determine if a Department of Labor & Industry (L&I)
Certificate of Occupancy (CO) has been issued. This can be done by calling your local State Representative or Senator
and make the request through them. Finding an existing L&I CO can be useful in several ways and can save you money
in the long run. Most commercial buildings were required to have an L&I CO – most residential structures were not.
All commercial buildings, with no exceptions, shall meet all (Handicap Accessibility) Accessible provisions which are
applicable to the project.
An Accessible parking space and unloading zone with signage and accessible route to the building must be provided.
The parking space and accessible route must meet slope and all other building code requirements. Ramps and landings
have to be constructed to meet accessible and building code provisions. They are usually constructed to allow access to
and exiting of a building.
An Accessible bathroom facility and water fountain must be provided at the building. Usually a unisex (one bathroom
for both sexes) can be installed if the occupant load for the commercial use is 15 people or less. Approved signage must
be installed at all exits and bathroom areas.
Every public fixture, service counter, door handle, switch, receptacle, etc… must be Accessible. All flooring elevations
must be at the same level. Steps or change in floor elevation are not allowed in public areas.
If the business is being placed in an allowable area of an existing residential dwelling making a live/work unit, all portions
of the work unit (the business portion) must meet all code requirements. Many times the business portion needs to be
fire separated from the existing dwelling. This can be accomplished by several different methods with the installation of
drywall as the most popular one. Typically, an approved fire extinguisher needs to be properly mounted per code.
Two sets of plans, municipal approval and a Pennsafe permit application need to be submitted for plan review. Plans
must be drawn with scaled measurements provided. Stamped plans must be prepared by a design professional when
there is a change to the means of egress or there is a structural change to the building. Pennsafe Building Inspection
Services personnel are not allowed to prepare plans in accordance with the UCC Law. It is highly recommended to
utilize the services of a design professional or someone that is very familiar with the Building Code. All of Pennsafe’s
building permit application forms can be found on our website at http://pennsafebis.com. No work may proceed on the
building project until the plan review is approved and the permit is issued. An inspection directory will be provided to
you which denotes the type of inspections that are required and the time to call and request the inspections. Pennsafe
will issue you a valid Certificate of Occupancy when all municipal and building code inspections have been approved.