Our discussion about designing functional children’s spaces continues with a focus on issues that may arise adding accredited daycare to your church facility. Churches can get some breaks when it comes to building codes, but not when daycare is involved. This is why, whether you are remodeling or starting fresh, it’s important to consider the following areas often regulated by local building laws as you design your project.
Sprinklers, Exits, and Restrooms
Modern public building codes usually require integrated sprinkler systems (for fire suppression, not grass growing!), but while churches are generally exempt from this requirement, childcare facility licensing rules in your area might require them. Each state is different, so it’s important to find out the particular regulations for yours, especially if you plan to have a large number of children under the age of 30 months in your daycare. In fact, with children that small, nurseries or classrooms must also have an exit that leads directly outdoors.
Restroom facilities are also a consideration. While it’s fairly common to require one fixture for every 10 children, the regulations vary, so it’s important to work with a design professional who is familiar with the rules in your area.
If your daycare facility is going to serve hot meals to the children, your kitchen will also need to address health department codes. This could involve installing more dedicated sinks (prep, wash, disposal, hand-only), adding grease traps, and meeting a variety of other requirements. Now, if you don’t plan to do any cooking, but serve cold meals instead, there are fewer requirements. Again, each health department is slightly different, so it will be important to get the right information and incorporate it into the church design phase of your project.
ADA — Americans with Disabilities Act — Impact on Church Design
Generally, any accredited daycare must also meets the requirements of the ADA. Careful attention needs be paid to everything from elevators and emergency exits to the width of hallways and doors. If you have any dead end corridors in your building, you won’t meet current codes, and there’s a maximum distance that anyone can travel to get to an exit. All this means that sometimes, when it comes to remodeling an older church facility, it may be easier to design a new, separate wing than to retrofit the existing space to meet all the current codes.
Does all this sound confusing or overwhelming? That’s why there are church design and building experts like The McKnight Group, who keep track of these rules and know how to create church buildings that work for everyone. To learn more about building code requirements, check out our prior post on the topic, and sign up for our free i3 webinar series, which talks about issues like this in greater depth — complete with pictures!