Requirements as far as code

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Hello Everyone,

We are opening a B&B in Burgettstown, PA. The house and barn sit on over 325 acres of land and is very private. The township does not have very many restrictions. The general contractor that we chose to do the work is saying that we have to do everything to meet National Code. Does this sound right? He is telling us that because we are serving the public, most of the electric has to taken out and then wrapped in a round metal jacket and that we need a sprinkler system and exit signs above the doors. His Plumber is saying that because we have well water, we need to add a chlorinating system that will cost tens of thousands of dollars. He said you can not use well water for a public place. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Tom
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Sifting comments already posted: Key question is whether you will be residential B&B (5 or fewer rooms, owner occupied) or commercial?

That really determines which universal codes will apply.  Then it is up to the local authority having jurisdiction ("AHJ") to decide on when original install is ok and when it needs to be upgraded -- usually a $$ threshold for new work.

Even as a B&B/residence, it will be a big house and will need special septic and water supply rules.  We built new and did a sprinkler system and elevator, but could have argued our way out of them.  Serving more than 10 people on well, we have to be a public water supply and be tested quarterly.  No chlorination (or more likely ozone/UV) required unless we fail coliform consistently.  Nine bathrooms and 3 dishwashers plus laundry earned us a 3000 gallon septic requirement (had one 1500, added a second tank in-line).

Talk to your building/planning people and tell them exactly what you plan; take notes and send them the notes as confirmation.  Sounds like your contractor is running a con.

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Hi. Welcome. 
Good advice already provided.  
It seems to me your contractor sees $$$$$ signs and is pulling the mother load. 

You need more quotes for the job but first go to your local county planning and zoning to get their requirements, and to the state.  Check with the Fire Marshall and the Board of Health.  As stated get all requirements in writing.  You will need to tell them how many rooms you will be renting as some laws are more strict the more rooms you will rent.   Note that in general National laws are the universal, state laws can be more strict than national but not less, county more strict than state and city more strict than county.  None can be less strict than the larger entity above them. 

As for the well water and the chlorination... We have a very simple chlorination system for our well.  It feeds to our water tank before entering the house.  I do not recall the price but it was well under $500 when we replaced it a few years ago.  Testing your water is a good start to knowing what you need to do.  Having well water should not be a factor as long as it is tested and is safe. 

You also need to look at your septic system, make sure it is able to serve the number of rooms/bathrooms you intend to have.  This is where the expense comes in if it needs to be upgraded or replaced. 

No matter what needs to be addressed get more than one bid, I recommend 3 or more.  Try a General contractor who would be over all the details, then also get bids for doing at least some of the tasks on their own. 

There are some real shady characters doing this line of work.  Oh, and make sure you get copies of their licenses and certificates of their insurance.  

Good luck. 

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Copperhead wrote:

As for the well water and the chlorination... We have a very simple chlorination system for our well.  It feeds to our water tank before entering the house.  I do not recall the price but it was well under $500 when we replaced it a few years ago.  

When we needed to clean/improve our well water some years ago the health inspector suggested a system that used an ultraviolet light rather than chlorination, just another possible option for you

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JimBoone wrote:

When we needed to clean/improve our well water some years ago the health inspector suggested a system that used an ultraviolet light rather than chlorination...

I never thought of that! I sure wish our municipal water works would go that route. I'm so tired of drinking "swimming pool water"!

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This part of the city is on ozonation, rather than chlorination. It's the same filter they use to mark city water and sell it on shelves.

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Arks wrote:

JimBoone wrote:

When we needed to clean/improve our well water some years ago the health inspector suggested a system that used an ultraviolet light rather than chlorination...

I never thought of that! I sure wish our municipal water works would go that route. I'm so tired of drinking "swimming pool water"!


Our's is really not that strong, we chlorinate it just enough to get rid of the sulphur (rotten egg) smell and clear it up.   But boy do I remember when we lived in the city and they started chlorinating the water.  It was strong!

When we looked into systems 15+ yrs ago, our well guy thought this was a better way for us to go due to all others (at that time, and economical) ran the water through a filtration system.  He was worried that it would reduce water pressure and limit the flow of water up to our 3rd floor. 

 

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Truthfully there may be differences in types of contaminates as well. The advantage of the light system was that it required no attention other than having to change the bulb. Stainless steel tank with some internal baffles and the the bulb in a tube down the center, nothing really to reduce pressure

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Your county's building code enforcement department is the best source for your build answers.  Your county's health department will answer your water source and kitchen build questions.   The contractor may well have his/her own requirements.  Liability is a huge concern, especially if they've been burned before.  Get more bids.

Our county health department was one of our first stops before we started the rehab.   I wish I'd saved a photo of our building permit.  It pretty much said "building permit", but was duly posted.  The building inspector checked for joist hangers and stud wall installation (before the walls were closed up) on the new portion of the house, and that was it.  We were told we could have an electrical inspection if we wanted it, but would have to get an inspector over from the next county.  

We live in interesting place.

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Thank You for the advice!! 

Wow, that is minimal requirement.

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I grew up near Burgettstown (Old St Johns Road in Brooke County, WV) -we always took the Bavington cutoff to go to Pittsburgh (I watched them build the Ft Pitt Tunnel).  I was through there about 6 weeks ago showing it off to a lady from North Wales. Langloth has not changed.

Enough of the nostalgia.

How many rooms - that will make a difference in a lot of rules- such as requiring a commercial kitchen. I am on the Planning and Zoning Commission down here is Shinnston, WV. Go to your Township office and check their requirements - IN WRITING - because if they have not adopted the International Building Codes, you do not have to follow them. Re the well water - IF you have it tested whatever number of times the Health Department requires (again IN WRITING), you do not have to do the chlorination. Check the PA rules to be certain as each State is different. Unless you have taken the house down to studs, the sprinkler system is hogwash - in Burgettstown with a well, you would have to have a pressurized tank to feed that sprinkler system (THIS I am conversant with as I got the Fire Codes changed in WV for B&Bs and the pressure tank was part of the needs for sprinklers we were able to avoid). New-built MUST have all that crap - renovated does not. Also check on the exits requirements.

Emergency lights - plug-ins are accepted because if the power goes off, they come on AND can be taken with as flashlights. I am about to go replace some of mine because they are old - they WERE about $10 each at Lowe's so I figure it will be $15 to 20 now. You WILL need smoke/CO2 detectors everywhere.

I cannot imagine Burgettstown (unless it is PA requiring it) to have conduit for the electric. Just use copper NOT aluminum. Copper is more expensive but it will not catch your place on fire (perhaps a reason for them saying conduit). Exit signs aerenot required in a B & Bmost places. Again, I do not know what PA laws are. Illinois DID require conduit BTW in any new-built.

I wish you luck. Give a call if you think I can help, I am just down the road a piece these days.

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Do you happen to know of any good local contractors? I am thinking that we may need to go with someone else.

gillumhouse's picture
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I asked a friend in Toronto, Ohio & she did the obvious DUH! to me (ask Goo) since I left the area in 1970. So I did a Goo gle and am sending this link as the best I know to do. https://www.buildzoom.com/burgettstown-pa/general-contractors

Hope it is not redundant to what you already have.

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Thank you for this info. We did check out buildzoom, angie's list and google. It was very difficult to find anything reliable or even someone who would call back. I guess everyone is just really busy. I would love to find someone with experience with a B&B. I think that would be very helpful!!

 

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Wow, You know your stuff!! This is great. I did check with the township and they require little to nothing. That being said, the contractor keeps arguing with me saying that he will be responsible if it isn't done this way. He is actually from WV.

That is so neat that you grew up here. The property is on Curry Rd off of Purdy. It is amazing!! You will have to come up and see it sometime.

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this to me. You are super helpful. 

gillumhouse's picture
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Pick up I-79 at Little Washington and come south to Exit #124 and come see what we have here. It will be my pleasure to show you.

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That sounds great!! I will do that soon

 

Arks's picture
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Grrrrrrr! I hate code nuts! Of course they want you to have to do all that. More $$$ for them!

I hope some here can provide some useful personal experience on this. Your state B&B association may be able to provide some advice.

So you're remodeling an existing house?

I've never in my life seen a B&B with a sprinkler system or lighted exit signs over the doors.

In my experience, on an existing building you don't have to put all the old wiring in conduit. I'm sure NEW wiring would need to be done to local or state code, but existing stuff is usually "grandfathered in".

Good luck!

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Hi Arks,

Yes we are remodling an existing house. I appreciate your input! Thank you!

 

Anon Inn's picture
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Our county has no requirements for sprinklers but because we heat with wood and were taking the place down to the studs anyway, plus there was a local sprinkler installer - we added the system.

Note about sprinklers.  They are not intended to save the structure, but to give the occupants more time to escape.  

gillumhouse's picture
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Exactly what a Fire Commissioner told me when I was fighting the War of the Dire Codes with the Legislature (opposing army was the Fire Marshal-a polital hack idiot).

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Thank You!! You are all awesome!! I knew I had a case. I did contact Rose with the PA association. She is super helpful too!! This was a new issue that I contacted her about yesterday so I am waiting to hear from her about it. I know she will say what you are all saying. Thank you so much!! I love this group!

 

Morticia's picture
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Sprinkler system required here. Every b&b has one. Newer remodels are being required to enclose stairs. Including those gracious, sweeping staircases.

Don't know about PA. Good advice to talk with the association. They have all the rules and requirements.

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Wow, enclosing the stairs would be terrible. 

What state are you in Morticia?

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    Welcome to the group!  This is a great place to be so settle in and stay awhile.  We are all from around the world here.  Mort is north of us.  I'm three hours or so east of you.

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Thank you!! I am looking forward to learning from all of you!! This is wonderful

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