Working with Architectural Hardware Consultants

At EVstudio, one of our EValues is to ensure we keep our teams on the leading edge of industry knowledge. Our Lunch & Learn series with different vendors and consultants is one way we make sure that happens. Dormakaba, a company based in Switzerland, offers architectural consultation and specification services. They recently gave a Lunch & Learn presentation to the EVstudio team on working with architectural hardware consultants to help make sure every aspect of a newly designed space is fully code compliant. This blog post gives a run-down of that presentation.

Developing Door Hardware Specification Section 08 71 00

When designing and planning a construction project, there are numerous factors that need to be considered, and coordination between teams is essential for the success of the project. During the design phase, international (IBC) and local building codes must be followed for various sections of the building including structural, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical codes.  One type of code that may be overlooked are for doors and frames.

An architectural hardware consultant (AHC) works with builders to ensure that building doors and hardware are compliant with a variety of codes that cover fire safety, ADA, and occupancy limits. AHCs use your hardware specifications to obtain quotes and work with distributors to manufacture the hardware, and set up end user consultants. Therefore, to avoid costly rework and change orders, you need to make sure that your Finish Hardware Specifications section is code complaint.

Areas of Expertise

The following are some of the items that AHCs are trained to assist with and handle:

Doors are specified with door schedule and door/frame details. Occupancy load and door function are considered when determining the types of doors to install within a room or a building. Note that wall ratings and door/frame ratings are evaluated separately. Walls may contain various combustible materials, so to meet safety codes walls are required to hold up for longer during a fire.

Fire doors are designed and made from fire-resistant materials that slow the spread of fire. Manufacturers must test and rate these doors according to performance under heat, combustion, and pressures it is expected to be exposed to during a fire. Fire door assemblies with side-hinged and pivoted swinging doors shall be tested in accordance with NFPA 252 or UL10C.

Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in destructive fires. Smoke doors are designed to limit the spread of smoke. NFPA 105 contains requirements for smoke door assemblies and other protective devices that are intended to limit the spread of smoke.

Egress doors are exit doors that allow occupants to leave the room or facility as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency.  These doors are required to open from the egress side in one motion without a key, prior knowledge, or special effort. The International Building Code (IBC) contains standards on swing direction, door operation, hardware, operable parts, and unlatching mechanism for egress doors.

Occupancy load within a room is needed when determining whether an exit device is required or not. This calculation considers immovable materials in the room, such as fixed tables and cabinets, as well as moving room dividers which temporarily separate two or more spaces.  Egress door swing directions are also determined based on occupancy load.

When a building contains multiple floors, fire-rated stairwells become an essential part in fire exit plans. Once a building has a certain number of floors, all doors must be automatically unlocked with the initiation of the building fire alarm. IBC and NFPA 101 contain codes on interior stairways.

Sometimes new building codes are created as new room types arise.  For example, a recent building code has been added to the IBC that requires the installation of fire exit hardware on doors for electrical rooms of a certain size housing electrical equipment rated 1,200 Amperes or more.

Many modern commercial buildings, warehouses, workplaces, stores, and public spaces also have areas with an added layer of security features to limit the entrance of unauthorized individuals, or even prevent the exit of potential criminals. These security systems include access controlled or delayed egress systems, which have regulations outlined in the IBC. When designing for these buildings, you may have the added complexity of integrating the door access control system with the fire protection system to prevent occupants from being locked inside during an emergency.

Other codes for doors cover ADA compliance, fire door hardware, functions and accessories for a pair of doors, and smoke gasketing. This is not an exhaustive list, so be sure to coordinate with your team and AHC when filling out the door hardware specification section.

When working with an architectural hardware consultant to design and order finish hardware, it is important to obtain building codes not only to follow local compliance laws, but to ensure practical usage by building occupants. Without proper planning, you may see inconsistencies with the door schedule and floor plan, unsuitable materials and door dimensions, and incorrect fire and smoke classifications. Other problems with usage include doors that swing into corridors that obstruct traffic flow to the exits, and security requirements that conflict with fire and life safety plans. By reviewing codes that cover door regulations while working on Section 08 71 00 prior to sending out your spec sheet to the AHC, you minimize plan review conflicts and hardware change orders.


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