Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 13. Housing
Agency 5. Department of Housing And Community Development
Chapter 63. Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code

13VAC5-63-434.5. Chapter 9 Historic buildings.

Replace Chapter 9 of the IEBC with the following:

1. Section 901 General.

901.1 Scope. It is the intent of this chapter to provide means for the preservation of historic buildings. The provisions of this code relating to construction involving historic buildings shall not be mandatory unless such construction constitutes a life safety hazard. Accessibility shall be provided in accordance with Section 405.

901.2 Report. The code official shall be permitted to require that a historic building undergoing repair, alteration, or change of occupancy be investigated and evaluated by a registered design professional or other qualified person or agency as a condition of determining compliance with this code.

901.3 Special occupancy exceptions. When a building in Group R-3 is also used for Group A, B, or M purposes such as museum tours, exhibits, and other public assembly activities or for museums less than 3,000 square feet (279 m2), the code official may determine that the occupancy is Group B when life safety conditions can be demonstrated in accordance with Section 901.2. Adequate means of egress in such buildings, which may include a means of maintaining doors in an open position to permit egress, a limit on building occupancy to an occupant load permitted by the means of egress capacity, a limit on occupancy of certain areas or floors, or supervision by a person knowledgeable in the emergency exiting procedures, shall be provided.

2. Section 902 Flood hazard areas.

902.1 Flood hazard areas. In flood hazard areas, if all proposed work, including repairs, work required because of a change of occupancy, and alterations, constitutes substantial improvement, then the existing building shall comply with Section 1612 of the International Building Code or Section R322 of the International Residential Code, as applicable.

Exception: If a historic building will continue to be a historic building after the proposed work is completed, then the proposed work is not considered a substantial improvement. For the purposes of this exception, a historic building is:

1. Listed or preliminarily determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places;

2. Determined by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior as contributing to the historical significance of a registered historic district or a district preliminarily determined to qualify as an historic district; or

3. Designated as historic under a state or local historic preservation program that is approved by the Department of Interior.

3. Section 903 Repairs.

903.1 General. Repairs to any portion of a historic building or structure shall be permitted with original or like materials and original methods of construction, subject to the provisions of this chapter. Hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead-based paint, shall not be used where the code for new construction would not permit their use in buildings of similar occupancy, purpose, and location.

903.2 Moved buildings. Foundations of moved historic buildings and structures shall comply with the VCC. Moved historic buildings shall otherwise be considered a historic building for the purposes of this code. Moved historic buildings and structures shall be sited so that exterior wall and opening requirements comply with the VCC or with the compliance alternatives of this code.

903.3 Replacement. Replacement of existing or missing features using original materials shall be permitted. Partial replacement for repairs that match the original in configuration, height, and size shall be permitted. Replacement glazing in hazardous locations shall comply with the safety glazing requirements of Chapter 24 of the VCC.

Exception: Glass block walls, louvered windows, and jalousies repaired with like materials.


5. Section 905 Alterations.

905.1 General. The provisions of Chapter 6, as applicable, shall apply to facilities designated as historic structures that undergo alterations, unless technically infeasible.

905.2 Exit signs and egress path markings. Where new exit signs or egress path markings would damage the historic character of the building or structure, alternative exit signs and egress path markings are permitted with approval of the code official. Alternative signs and egress path markings shall identify the exits and egress path.

6. Section 906 Change of Occupancy.

906.1 General. Historic buildings undergoing a change of occupancy shall comply with the applicable provisions of Chapter 7, except as specifically permitted in this chapter. When Chapter 7 requires compliance with specific requirements of Chapter 6 and when those requirements are subject to exceptions elsewhere in this code, the same exceptions shall apply to this section.

906.2 Building area. When a change of occupancy classification is made to a higher hazard category as indicated in Table 706.2, the allowable floor area for historic buildings undergoing a change of occupancy shall be permitted to exceed by 20% the allowable areas specified in Chapter 5 of the VCC.

906.3 Location on property. Historic structures undergoing a change of use to a higher hazard category in accordance with Section 707.1 may use alternative methods to comply with the fire-resistance and exterior opening protective requirements. Such alternatives shall comply with Section 901.2.

906.4 Occupancy separation. Required occupancy separations of one hour may be omitted when the building is provided with an approved automatic sprinkler system throughout.

906.5 Automatic fire-extinguishing systems. Every historical building or portion thereof that cannot be made to conform to the construction requirements specified in Chapter 7 or this chapter for the occupancy or use and such change constitutes a fire hazard shall be deemed to be in compliance if those spaces undergoing a change of occupancy are provided with an approved automatic fire-extinguishing system.

Exception: When the building official approves an alternative life-safety system.

906.6 Means of egress. Existing door openings and corridor and stairway widths less than those required elsewhere in this code shall be permitted, provided there is sufficient width and height for a person to pass through the opening or traverse the exit and that the capacity of the exit system is adequate for the occupant load or where other operational controls to limit occupancy are approved by the code official.

906.7 Door swing. Existing front doors need not swing in the direction of exit travel, provided that other approved exits having sufficient capacity to serve the total occupant load are provided.

906.8 Transoms. In corridor walls required by Chapter 7 to be fire-resistance rated, existing transoms may be maintained if fixed in the closed position and fixed wired glass set in a steel frame or other approved glazing shall be installed on one side of the transom.

906.9 Interior finishes and trim materials. When a change of occupancy classification is made to a higher hazard category as indicated in Table 705.2, existing nonconforming interior finish and trim materials shall be permitted to be treated with an approved fire-retardant coating in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions to achieve the required fire rating.

Exception: Such nonconforming materials need not be treated with an approved fire-retardant coating where the building is equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with the VCC and the nonconforming materials can be substantiated as being historic in character.

906.10 One-hour-fire-resistant assemblies. Where one-hour-fire-resistance-rated construction is required by this code, it need not be provided, regardless of construction or occupancy, where the existing wall and ceiling finish is wood lath and plaster.

906.11 Stairways, railings, and guards. Existing stairways, railings, and guards shall comply with the requirements of Section 705. The code official shall approve alternative stairways, railings, and guards if found to be acceptable or judged to meet the intent of Section 705.

Exception: For buildings less than 3,000 square feet (279 m2), existing conditions are permitted to remain at all stairways, railings, and guards.

906.12 Exit stair live load. When a change of occupancy classification is made to a higher hazard category as indicated in Table 706.2, existing stairways shall be permitted to remain where it can be shown that the stairway can support a 75-pounds-per-square-foot (366 kg/m2) live load.

7. Section 907 Structural.

907.1 General. Historic buildings shall comply with the applicable structural provisions for the work as classified in Section 103.9.

Exception: The code official shall be authorized to accept existing floors and approve operational controls that limit the live load on any such floor.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-98 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 18, eff. September 4, 2018; amended, Virginia Register Volume 35, Issue 3, eff. November 1, 2018; Volume 37, Issue 14, eff. July 1, 2021; Volume 40, Issue 9, eff. January 18, 2024.

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