If you lease a commercial building to serve as a church, the property will likely have to be inspected before your congregation can occupy it. Here are a few things you can expect the building inspector to check:
Is there an adequate number of exits?
If you make changes to the layout of the building, it is important to leave multiple exits in place in case of an emergency. In addition to the exits being unblocked and easily accessible, they may have to be clearly labeled, so that congregants can easily find them. In some instances, an inspector may require the exit signs to be lit or reflective, since an electrical outage may accompany an emergency, making it more difficult to identify the ways out of the building.
How many people do you plan to have in the building at one time?
During your worship services, you may expect a certain number of people to participate. The inspector is likely to question you about the number of people you expect to attend the services and count the chairs in the sanctuary area of the building. He or she may then inform you of the number of people that can safely occupy the building at once and advise of the fine amounts that you may be charged for violating the occupancy limit.
If you had plans to house more people than the size of your building permits, consider holding additional services. That way, you can maximize the number of people that your church reaches, while staying within the constraints of the law.
Is there a sufficient fire prevention system?
The inspector will also assess the emergency sprinkler system and the fire alarms in the building. If there are not enough sprinklers in the building, the inspector will notify you of the number that should be included and where they must be located. Likewise, the number and location of the fire alarms that should be in place will be disclosed.
Is there asbestos present?
If the commercial building was built years ago, the inspector may check for the presence of asbestos contamination, especially if you have made renovations to the structure. If asbestos is detected, the material will need to be cleared away before the building can start being used as a church. A subsequent inspection may be required to give clearance for occupancy.
For more information, contact AccuPro Inspection Services or a similar company.