From Horse Barn to Wellness Center, Part 5: Floorplan Review to Determine Occupancy Numbers


Follow the journey to remodel a horse barn into a commercial wellness center on a Midwestern property zoned for agriculture. This multi-part series recounts the considerations, pitfalls and ultimate successes of a green-building project with an ambitious scope to bring a defunct farm building new life as a natural health destination.

I went into the building inspector’s office, handed him the building permit application paperwork, and had a seat. The building inspector started to look over the building permit application when he paused and asked me what the owners intended to do with the building when it was done.

He was trying to determine if each room in the wellness center had to be equipped like a doctor’s office would need to be equipped. I replied that there was not going to be any medical doctors practicing there and no request was being made for upgraded electrical outlets.

Inspecting the Floor Plan

As we went through the building permit application and the building plans, the building inspector started to key into the names of each room that was listed on the building plan. The structural engineer had told me to be careful naming the rooms on the building plans, because an inspector could question floor loads. For instance, naming a room on the second floor a closet may make the building inspector wonder if chairs, tables and other heavy items might exceed the floor load rating of the floor in that area. To avoid confusion, I made sure that I wrote “linen closet” on the prints wherever there was a second floor closet.

An area on the building plans that the building inspector started paying extra attention to was on the second floor: I’d named the large room “open room” on the building plans.

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