Therefore, a building that is considered perfectly safe as a residence may not meet the minimum safety requirements for use as a public building. This can be attributed to the higher number of persons occupying a public building as well as storage and use of materials and equipment that pose a greater risk of fire than what is normally found in a residence.
Requirements for Change of Use of an Existing Building
Building codes in Virginia are not retroactive in most situations. Buildings are required to be maintained under the code that was in effect at the time of original construction. This remains true as long as the building is used for its original purpose.
Change in Use of a Building
However, a change in the use of the building at a later time subjects the building to the requirements of the current edition of the building code. The code gives the owner several alternatives for achieving code compliance. The owner may apply the complete current code to the building just as if it were being constructed in the present day.
Alternatively, the code has a specific chapter (Chapter 34) that can be used to evaluate an existing building and determine what, if any, improvements are required. View the Change of Use Brochure (PDF) for more details.