Online resource for Code Related Discussions / Questions

I am a soon to be licensed Architect (waiting to be processed) and I'd like to know if there is a forum or resource where discussion occurs around building code related issues? A place where you can quickly bounce ideas or questions off of one another or gain some clarification regarding a specific topic?

What led me to post on here is I have someone interested in converting an existing 2-family, 3 story residential building into a 3-family in NJ. Based on my research via the Rehabilitation Code and Uniform Construction Code, this would require a change from an R-5 TO R-2 occupancy which would likely require the entire building to be sprinklered. 

This would likely be cost prohibitive and not something the home owner would pursue if sprinkling the entire building is required. 

Is there an online resource for these types of scenarios?

Thank you!


Jun 20, 19 2:37 pm
Witty Banter

Why not just speak to the AHJ? 

Jun 20, 19 3:12 pm

I'm awaiting a call back from the local fire subcode official, but thought it would be great to continue my research elsewhere. I honestly didn't even consider that a building code forum exists!

Jun 20, 19 3:29 pm

Hint for you; Most of those type forums tend to advise solidly in code and often are dominated by code official types (reviewers) versus designers.  Though they hate being told this, a plan's examiner requirement is HS diploma and a open book 4 hour test on code.  Its not even remotely close to what it takes to get your license.  But they are used to being 'the authority', so don't like punks like us coming in and arguing.  

So... lead the horse to water.  Formulate your interpretation how you want it interpreted citing code and bounce it.  So don't go in asking 'how would you' or you'll get a bombproof answer like; sprinkle, update all the ratings and exiting like you are doing ground up.  It isn't really what you want to hear.... Those forums like the buildingcodeforum are good to test out because they often answer like your plan's examiner would when you submit.  And don't argue there; they like to ban so they live in a bubble of windowless 2hr fire stair solutions.. :)

Jun 20, 19 3:44 pm

There is the buildingcodeforum mentioned above, and a forum on the ICC's site (

If you're doing your own projects, I would definitely consider becoming an ICC member. I believe it costs $170 a year, and membership gives you access to their code hotline. You can call in and talk to a code expert about whatever question you have.

I've used this service quite a bit, and found it very helpful. The people you talk with know much more about codes than pretty much any building official I've ever dealt with. But keep in mind that they only deal with the ICC model codes, so you're on your own if you're dealing with a state amendment.

NFPA has a similar service, although you usually have to wait for a call back from the code expert. As with the ICC version, the experts you talk to are much more knowledgeable than your average inspector. 

Jun 27, 19 8:32 am

Thank you very much. This would be incredibly helpful. I am strongly considering becoming a member as this would save a lot of time and a lot of second-guessing. Having someone to review the codes with is invaluable and I will be sure to check it out!

So it appears when converting from a 2-family to a 3-family, a change of use and occupancy is required, from R-3 to R-2. Because of this, there is an increase in hazard. 

When converting from a 2-family, to a 3-family residential building, I would either have to sprinkler the entire building or switch from TYPE V-B Construction to TYPE V-A Construction, which would require a 1-hr fire rating for all exterior & interior bearing walls and floor and roof construction

Does this seem to be accurate? 

Thank you!

Jul 2, 19 1:45 pm
Non Sequitur

I'd say what does your boss have to say about this... but it appears you're a sole prop.  How do you get around doing this stuff without a license?

Increase in hazard is pretty simple observation. No need for code discussion forums.

I am currently working for an exhibit design firm (not architecture) and the business owner requested I look into this for him as he owns an investment property he would like to renovate.. I have not done any of this "stuff" yet as I am waiting for my registration/license approval from NYS which should be expected within the month. I just want to get clarity regarding automatic fire sprinkler requirements when converting from a 2-family residential (R-3) to an apartment building (R-2, 3-family) before proceeding. Should a sprinkler system be required, he would likely not pursue the change of use/occupancy. The fire subcode official is stating that it would be necessary to sprinkler the building but based on the research I have performed, it seems as though it's not necessary if we comply with Type V-A Construction.


This essentially state that sprinklers are not a requirement unless exceeding 3 stories...


§ 5:23-6.26A Supplemental requirements--Groups R-2 and R-4
(a)Automatic Sprinkler System: Automatic fire sprinkler systems shall be installed in Group R-2 and R-4 as

1.In Group R-2 buildings four or more stories in height (excluding basements), when the work area is an entire floor, an automatic fire sprinkler system shall be installed throughout the work area.

Jul 3, 19 7:54 pm

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