Cost Triggers / by Luke Davies

Existing conditions that trigger extra costs when taking over an existing space:

Incorrect Occupancy Use - There are many restaurants and bars in San Francisco running under a "B" occupancy. That is allowed as long as the calculated occupancy comes out to below 49 people. You cannot just say you will only allow 49 people in at a time. If you buy an existing restaurant or bar that is currently running under a "B" occupancy but has more than 49 occupants per the occupancy calculations, you will have to file for a "Change of Use" with the Building Department. Restaurants and bars with more than 49 occupants are classified as an "A" occupancy. Depending on what the calculated occupancy load is, you may have to add additional restrooms, exits and sprinklers, just to name a few items.

Sprinklered Buildings - Buildings by law either have a sprinkler system or they do not. There are many buildings that are partially sprinklered and technically that does not count in the eyes of the local fire codes. If the building is partially sprinklered, sprinklers will have to be added to the non-sprinklered areas for it to be considered sprinklered.  Make sure you ask the current tenants or owners for the latest sprinkler system maintenance report and verify that the sprinkler coverage is throughout the building.  If you plan to change the wall layout in a sprinklered space, there is a good chance the existing sprinkler system will have to be modified. 

Exiting - With so many buildings built so close together in San Francisco, exiting requirements are difficult to meet at times. There are occasions where you will be required to have two exits when you currently only have one. You may have to make a deal with a neighboring building to allow emergency exiting through their space or you may need to build a one hour rated corridor within your space. Just because the current space got away with only one exit does not mean your new business will. There are many factors involved that a design professional can evaluate.

ADA upgrades – For the year of 2019, if your construction costs for your remodel are below $166,157.00 you are required to spend 20% of your construction dollars on ADA upgrades. If your construction costs are above $166,157.00 you are required to make the entire space ADA compliant. It really is that simple. Separately, all new construction is required to be ADA compliant. The dollar amount that sets the threshold changes every year so check the building department website. 

Title 24 Energy Requirements - Every commercial space being renovated with new lighting, new mechanical equipment or a new facade will be required to provide Title 24 energy calculations in order to obtain a construction permit. Most lighting will be required to be fluorescent or LED and you should expect to change regular light switches to have dimmers or occupancy sensors.  Most electrical and mechanical engineers can provide job specific calculations.

Every space is different and we recommend all properties you are seriously considering be evaluated by a design professional to make sure the new owners are aware of issues that need to be addressed before any deals are signed.