We covered that any preschool or daycare program that your church operates during the week will have to be certified by appropriate agencies. Those agencies have a different, and often stricter, set of rules and regulations than you need for your Sunday church design. You’ll also need to consider how building codes and other government rules will affect the daycare and/or preschool programs in your church building. Here are the types of issues you will need to address in your new or remodeled church design:
Understanding Building Code Regulations
Your state childcare board is not going to dictate how you should construct your church building, just that it follows building code. These codes will contain requirements for childcare, so your church design needs to incorporate them.
In childcare, the big age demarcation is under and over 30 months of age. For any children under 30 months old, there are some extra building requirements. You must have doors from each classroom that take you directly outside. This means, especially if you’re remodeling your church building, that you can’t use basement or second-floor classrooms for children under 30 months old. Another requirement arises if you will have over 100 kids under 30 months of age. In this case, your church building must have automatic sprinklers installed (for fire suppression).
Meeting Church Design Requirements for Hot Meals and ADA
There are also more general requirements that must be met for your childcare programs. If you are going to serve a hot meal in your childcare program, your kitchen must meet health department codes. This includes a certain number and type of sinks, a certain number of cooking devices, and whether you need kitchen hoods, fans, grease traps, and so forth.
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) also dictates numerous requirements for the elevators, family restrooms, doorway widths, ramps, and other elements of your church design so that your building is handicap accessible. You also must design a safe egress from your church building. For example, if you have an older building and you want to have rooms upstairs for grade-school children, the stairs leading there can’t be too steep or wide, and they have to be consistent.
Hallways also have requirements. In a church remodeling project, your older hallways could be too narrow, or it could take too long before you arrive at a stairwell (what’s called “travel distance”). You could also have dead-end corridors, which make it more difficult for children to escape in case of a fire. Building code requires that any upstairs level in your church building that’s used for childcare should have at least two stairways leading to where you can exit at ground level. You can’t have any classrooms beyond those stairways (in dead-end corridors) because there would be no way out if there’s a problem.
Clearly these regulations are put in place for good reasons. It’s important to protect everyone who uses the classrooms in your church building any day of the week. To learn more about best church design practices, sign up today for our next free i3 webinars.