About this chapter: Chapter 12 provides some exceptions from code requirements when the building in question has historic value. The most important criterion for application of this chapter is that the building must be essentially accredited as being of historic significance by a state or local authority after careful review of the historical value of the building. Most, if not all, states have such authorities, as do many local jurisdictions. The agencies with such authority can be located at the state or local government level or through the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Other considerations include the structural condition of the building (i.e., is the building structurally sound), its proposed use, its impact on life safety and how the intent of the code, if not the letter, will be achieved.
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 any of the following:
- Listed or preliminarily determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
- Determined by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior to contribute to the historical significance of a registered historic district or a district preliminarily determined to qualify as a historic district.
- Designated as historic under a state or local historic preservation program that is approved by the Department of Interior.
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.
Exception: Glass block walls, louvered windows, and jalousies repaired with like materials.
Every historic building that cannot be made to conform to the construction requirements specified in the International Building Code for the occupancy or use and that constitutes a distinct fire hazard shall be deemed to be in compliance if provided with an approved automatic fire-extinguishing system.
Exception: Where the code official approves an alternative life-safety system.
In corridor walls required by these provisions 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.
Exception: Transoms conforming to Section 1203.4 shall be accepted.
Where interior finish materials are required to have a flame spread index of Class C or better, when tested in accordance with ASTM E84 or UL 723, existing nonconforming materials shall be surfaced with approved fire-retardant paint or finish.
Exception: Existing nonconforming materials need not be surfaced with an approved fire-retardant paint or finish where the building is equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with the International Building Code and the nonconforming materials can be substantiated as being historic in character.
Existing stairways shall comply with the requirements of these provisions. The code official shall grant alternatives for stairways and guards if alternative stairways are found to be acceptable or are judged to meet the intent of these provisions. Existing stairways shall comply with Section 1203.
Exception: For buildings less than 3,000 square feet (279 m2), existing conditions are permitted to remain at all stairways and guards.
- The code official shall be authorized to accept existing floors and existing live loads and to approve operational controls that limit the live load on any floor.
- Repair of substantial structural damage is not required to comply with Sections 405.2.3 and 405.2.4. Substantial structural damage shall be repaired in accordance with Section 405.2.1.