OK, so now we know where we are going, so it’s time to put pencil to paper as we implement our commercial kitchen design approach. As I mentioned in earlier posts, there are rules of thumb for just about everything in designing a kitchen, many of which I typically do not follow, but some are of absolute necessity. I am of course referring to the rules about permitting which apply to every facet of a commercial kitchen design approach… Fire, Health and Plumbing Codes being our main concern so in the interest of everyone’s time, I’ll prepare a separate post for each code challenge we may typically meet in the development of a commercial kitchen design.
Since we develop projects for clients all over the US and the world for that matter, the start of our commercial kitchen design approach is finding the specific codes based on the project’s location, which can be a bit of a daunting task, but like a chef, there are tricks to the trade to find out the information we need. Fortunately, as it relates to the fire code, the trend seems to be that many towns are moving towards the international fire code, which makes life a little easier on our end since there will one day be continuity (hopefully!)… But even still, there are many times where local ordinances will dominate. As the kitchen design and supply firm, the biggest issues we run into are for the exhaust systems and points of egress; which are easily addressed on our part since we use an international exhaust system and fire suppression company who develops their own engineering plans, installs the units and facilitates the permit process themselves. A nice neat package if you ask me…
As for points of egress, that is usually another easy one since all we really need to do is to make sure that 36” clearance is provided in all areas towards an exit, which is of critical importance for to keep in mind when using any commercial kitchen design approach. The big exception here would be if ADA codes come into play, but even with that, the architect would recommend to us where this needs to be accommodated for and we can usually make it happen in our design.
All of this being said… We’ve recently obtained a project and the egress matter is not as easily addressed as I mentioned above so I feel I need to give a disclaimer to all of our readers who are owners or potential owners of restaurants and hotels. Sometimes clients may see an operation outside their own location that does not necessarily follow the egress codes (or others) we design into the plans. Most often, these establishments are operating under a health department code exception that is being “grandfathered” in based on what was before deemed acceptable. Basically, if an operator takes over an existing operation and the means of egress, as an example, do not meet current code, and the new operator will not be making any physical changes to the establishment, many times the existing conditions will be granted a variance to the current code since it would be deemed a hardship financially should they require the owner to make the necessary unplanned changes to the building which created the boundaries for our commercial kitchen design approach. There are of course exceptions to this rule, and one should not automatically assume that something will be grandfathered in, but what is most important to know about this is that if an owner is already making physical changes to the building (interior or exterior) and will be essentially updating the building to make it more aesthetically pleasing or for whatever reason, the option to grandfather in old operating practices usually goes out the window… The thought being is that if an owner can afford to make that dramatic of a change to the building, making them now adhere to the current code is not a hardship for the owner and will then be required to meet all applicable current building codes… The moral of the story here is that if you plan to change it, you need to plan to meet the code, no matter how unfair it may seem.
Stay tuned for our next posts about Health and Plumbing Codes!
Eat Well my friends!