Information to Know When Leasing or Buying a Building

You will want to know the zoning and use of the building you are interested in leasing or purchasing. You may check for zoning here on the website under the GIS maps. The building owner or realtor should be able to tell you the classification of the building which will determine available usage. In addition, you can contact the Building Services Department for assistance. 

What questions should I ask before buying or leasing a property?

Does my dream fit my building? A building's design may not fit every desired use. 

What is the zoning classification? Zoning laws regulate the actions allowed on a piece of property. Each parcel of land is assigned a designation. 

What is the occupancy type/use? The use of the building is categorized into a group such as Assembly, Mercantile, Storage, etc.  These occupancy groups each have their minimum safety standards. 

What is the occupant load? The maximum number of occupants calculated according to building use and layout. 

Is there enough required parking? Parking rules vary depending on the size and use of a building

For buying, Is the property platted? Platting is the recorded division of the parcel in relation to its surrounding parcels

For buying, Has an asbestos survey or abatement been done? Asbestos containing building materials are common. The owner of a commercial property is responsible for ensuring these hazardous substances are properly handled and disposed of. 

Do I need to register as a new business with the city?

Yes, you will need to fill out the Certificate of Business Occupancy application and provide a detailed floor plan of operations. In this process, the city will verify the space you have is suitable for your business and meets fire code regulations. Please allow 10 days for the process.

Commercial Building Owners

Do I need a certificate of occupancy for my building?

Yes, a certificate of occupancy is required by the International Fire Code. You may apply for the certificate by completing the Certificate of Occupancy application and providing the documents listed on the application to the permit office.

How do I know who I can lease to?

Your certificate of occupancy will tell you the classification of your building. This will help determine the ways your building could be used by a potential tenant.

What should I know before I remodel a commercial building?

All commercial buildings must have an asbestos survey before remodeling.

Remodeling a commercial building can be more costly than you expect. Do your homework on the building codes. We recommend investing in hiring a designer/architect that knows the city codes this could save you money and time in the long run.

Can my building accept any type of business?

The short answer is no, buildings have been designed for specific uses and not all uses of buildings are interchangeable. Some businesses require more fire protection or other design element changes. Now with that being said, you may be able to change the occupancy. Below are building classifications and some examples of common types of businesses.

1.  Assembly - restaurants, churches, theaters, museums, taverns & bars

2.  Factory and Industrial - manufacturing with low hazards

3.  High Hazard - manufacturing with high hazards

4.  Institutional - 24-hour care facilities

5.  Mercantile - retail stores, drug stores

6.  Residential - dormitory, hotels, apartments, group homes

7. Storage - used for storage

8.  Utility and Miscellaneous - barns, greenhouses, towers

9.  Business - banks, professional services, barbershops

10. Educational - schools, daycares

What is the process to have an occupancy changed?

Changing the occupancy of a building could be as simple as a request in the form of an application or as complex as requiring a design professional’s stamped drawings and construction. Any desire to change to an Assembly, Educational, Institutional or High Hazard will require a registered design professional's involvement. This could be as simple as a stamped code review letter or complete set of stamped plans.

The permit office is available to help guide you through this process.