Jonathan Ochshorn

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**Allowable area for single-occupancy buildings, per floor**, A_{a} = A_{t} + NS x I_{f}, where:

- At is the "tabular" area factor found in Table 506.2 (see excerpt from table below, or see 2015 IBC, NY State version)
- NS is the tabular area factor for a nonsprinklered building (even if the building actually is sprinklered) and
- I
_{f}is the area factor due to frontage as defined below.

For single-occupancy buildings of 1 or 2 stories (above grade plane), the maximum total allowable building area is the allowable area for a single floor times the number of stories.

For buildings with 3 or more stories (above grade plane), the maximum allowable total building area = the allowable area per floor times three. Note that in all cases, the area per floor cannot exceed the allowable per-floor area computed above.

There is an exception for Group R buildings with so-called NFPA 13R sprinklers: in such cases, the total allowable building area is the allowable per-floor area times 4 (and such residential buildings cannot be more than 4 stories above grade plane). Of course, residential buildings can be more than 4 stories high, but in those cases, regular sprinklers (not these special "13R" residential-only sprinklers) must be used.

Where there is no frontage increase, the value of I_{f} is taken as zero.

**For mixed occupancies:** See next lecture.

**1. I _{f} = Frontage increase coefficient** = (F/P - 0.25)(W/30) where

- F = portion of building perimeter fronting on public way or open space with 20 ft. minimum width; note that if F is less than 25% of the total building perimeter, I
_{f}is taken as zero. - P = total building perimeter;
- W = Weighted average of open space/public way width in front of building:
- Only count widths that are greater or equal to 20 ft;
- Use 30 ft. for all widths that are greater than 30 ft, except as described below under "Unlimited Area Buildings";
- Open space must be on building lot or reserved for public use; also must be connected to a street or "fire lane,"
- Widths fronting right-of-ways (ROWs) can be measured to the far side of the ROW rather than to the near side (i.e, rather than to the property line).

- Sample calculation of frontage increase coefficient (see site plan below):
F = 60 + 100 + 60 =

**220 ft.**(Note that only sides A, B, and C are counted because the width of side D is less than 20 ft. Also note that the width of side C is measured to the centerline of the right-of-way.)P = 60 + 100 + 60 + 100 =

**320 ft.**W = [25(60) + 30(100) + 30(60)] / (60 + 100 + 60) =

**28.64 ft.**(Note that actual widths greater than 30 feet are counted as 30 ft. in the weighted average, and that only widths of 20 ft. or more are included.)**I**._{f}= (220/320 - 0.25)(28.64/30) = 0.42

**2. Sprinklers:** Tables in Chapter 5 allow increased building height —
1 extra story and 20 extra feet — and also allow significantly more floor area — 4 x more for 1-story buildings (S1) and 3 x more for multiple-story buildings (SM).

Occupancies | Sprinklers required? | Story limit | IBC 2015 ref. | Notes |

F-2, S-2 | No | 1 | Sec. 507.3 | 1 |

A-4 | Yes | 1 | Sec. 507.4 | 1, 2 |

B, F, M, S | Yes | 2 | Sec. 507.4 and 5-7.5 | 1 |

A-3, Type II | Yes | 1 | Sec. 507.6 | 1, 3 |

A-3, Type III and IV | Yes | 1 | Sec. 507.7 | 1, 4 |

H | See Code for details | Sec. 507.8 – 507.10 | 1 | |

E | Yes | 1 | Sec. 507.11 | 1, 5 |

Motion picture theaters | Yes | 1 | Sec. 507.12 | 1, 6 |

Covered or open malls and anchor buildings | Yes | 3 | Sec. 507.13 | 1, 7 |

**Notes:**

- See IBC Code for other details and exceptions.
- Not Type V construction.
- Type III and IV construction, and used for place of worship, community hall, dance hall, exhibition hall, gym, lecture hall, indoor pool, tennis court; no stage except platform.
- Type II construction, and used for place of worship, community hall, dance hall, exhibition hall, gym, lecture hall, indoor pool, tennis court; no stage except platform. Assembly floor within 21 inches of street or grade level; all exits have ramps.
- Type II, IIIA or IV construction; each classroom has at least 2 means of egress, one directly outside.
- Type II construction. Motion picture theater must be on 1st story; building call be higher.
- Must comply with Sec. 402.

Note that for occupancies that meet all criteria for unlimited area except for the 60-foot yard requirement, the parameter, *W,* used in the frontage increase calculation may be taken as *no greater than 60 feet* (rather than limited to 30 feet).

**4. Example:** Find the allowable area for a sprinklered Type II-B office building on a big enough site so that the area of the building is not limited by frontage or property lines in any way (i.e., If = 0.75).

From various tables in Chapter 5 (2015 IBC), the "tabular" limits are 4 stories and 69,000 s.f.

Allowable per-story area:

A_{a}= A_{t}+ [NS x I_{f}] = 69,000 + 23,000(0.75) = 86,250 s.f.Allowable total area:

- 4 stories permitted with sprinklers
- Allowable total area = 86,250(3) = 258,750 s.f.
- Equal area per floor = 258,750/4 = 64,687 s.f.

## If the building is unsprinklered, here's what changes:

- From Table 504.4 and 506.2 (2015 IBC), the tabular limits are 3 stories and 23,000 s.f.
Allowable per-story area:

A_{a}= A_{t}+ [NS x I_{f}] = 23,000 + 23,000(0.75) = 40,250 s.f.

Allowable total area:

- 3 stories permitted without sprinklers
- Allowable total area = 40,250(3) = 120,750 s.f.
- Equal area per floor = 120,750/3 = 40,250 s.f.

Biggest Type II-B Unsprinklered Office Building

**5. Example:** Design with limited site area.

What does "design" mean in this context?

- Find the least expensive construction type that works
- Confirm that a particular construction type works
- Find the biggest building compatible with required site parking (from zoning)
- Etc.

Assume that building size has been determined by zoning setbacks and parking requirements (see site plan above with 100 ft. x 60 ft. building and I_{f} = 0.42. Find "least expensive" construction type.

A_{a} is computed above for a sprinklered multi-story building with a frontage factor = 0.42.

Choices:

- All construction types "work" for the per-story area of 6,000 s.f., but the maximum number of stories allowed varies.
- For a 1-3-story sprinklered building: Type V-B.
- For a 4-story sprinklered building: Type V-A, III-B, or II-B
- For a 5-story sprinklered building: Type III-A (or II-A or IV)
*Unsprinklered*5-story building: Type III-A (or II-A or IV)

Calculator: See my IBC 2006-2015 Allowable Area Calculator.

See my handout on Fire Safety and Building Code Methods.

**Disclaimer #1:** Building codes (including the International Building Code) are typically structured as a maze of basic statements and qualifying assertions. Often, the qualifiers — sometimes found in other sections, or in footnotes to tables — are more important than the basic statements they modify. For this reason, it is important to scrutinize all relevant sections of the code before drawing any conclusions. The material contained on this page does not contain all qualifying assertions, and provides only a basic overview of fire-safety issues related to occupancy and construction type. These methods are not intended to be used for the design of actual structures, but only for schematic (preliminary) understanding of building code principles. For the design of an actual structure, a competent professional should be consulted.

**Disclaimer #2:** Students are responsible for material presented in class, and required material described on course outline. These notes are provided as a tentative outline of material intended to be presented in lectures only; they may not cover all material, and they may contain information not actually presented. Notes may be updated each year, and may or may not apply to non-current versions of course.

First posted Aug. 30, 2012 | Last updated: June 2, 2017

Copyright 2007-2017 J. Ochshorn. All rights reserved. Republishing material on this web site, whether in print or on another web site, in whole or in part, is not permitted without advance permission of the author.