Agora Architecture


Your City told you to get a “Code Footprint”?

We have seen it before – you are in the nitty-gritty of your project, tearing out walls (hopefully not load-bearing walls), and the City Code Inspector stops by, shuts you down, and tells you to get a “Code Footprint”. This happens all of the time. Occasionally, we get someone who goes to the City first, and then gets told they need a Code Footprint before they get into their project – this is the preferred way. However, you don’t know until you know. That is why we are here to help.

Allow me to explain the perfect approach to obtaining your Code Footprint and getting started on your project! If you are reading this blog after you have started your project, no worries, this happens all of the time and we can still help.

A Code Footprint is a term we use to describe a situation where you are renovating a space and what that space was used for before and what it will be used for now are different. When you change the use of a building or it’s exiting, you have to complete a Code Footprint (CF). This is often not something that the common person knows that they will have to do when completing their project. Therefore, it can be an unexpected cost (both the architectural fees and the construction fees associated).


Allow us to break down the perfect method for changing the use of your building and obtaining a CF.

1.       Identify the building that you would like to purchase.

2.       Before purchasing the building, give us a call and allow us to review your building for a very small fee. The small fee we charge to go through a building will save you thousands of dollars if you buy the building and it was a bad purchase due to the building’s conditions.

3.       Once you find a building that is suitable for your needs, you purchase the building.

4.       From here, you engage our service for a CF. During the CF process, we will review the code and determine what changes will need to be made to your space.

5.       During this time, while you are engaging our services for the CF, you will also be able to make design changes to your space, if you would like.

6.       Before we begin the CF, we contact your City’s Code Official. We verify that the plans we complete for you will also meet the City’s standards and adopted codes.

7.       Upon completion of the plans for the CF and any design work you wanted to complete, we submit final-sealed drawings to the City Officials.

8.       Upon the City’s approval of the plan and the obtaining of the correct permits, you may now complete the work on your building. If the City comes back with revisions to the plan to meet Code or City Zoning, that is included in our CF fee and we will take care of them for you.

Code Footprints are the most common way that we touch the Cities that we work in. CFs are common, necessary and simple if you do them the right way.

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You may ask, “Why is a CF necessary?” The simplest answer is this – there are very old buildings, decrepit buildings, dangerous buildings and out of date buildings in every City. Additionally, some building-use types require additional consideration regarding construction and Code Compliance. The only way to transition these buildings from their current unsafe state to that of a fully-functioning business, is slowly as they are purchased for use. This is our preferred method for updating these buildings. The other (hypothetical) way is to mandate that they all be updated regardless of a change of use or remodel. This would mean that currently functioning businesses, would need to suddenly and without warning update their facilities and for some, this would be the end of their business. However, by doing this as people are starting new businesses and making changes to their buildings already this is the most logical way. Additionally, this means that businesses are making changes over time and in their time.

If you need a CF because you haven’t bought your building yet, but are about to or because you were in the middle of construction and your City’s Code Enforcement stopped your progress, give us a call.

We are professional Code Footprint Designers that can get you on track in reasonable time

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Written by MacKenzie Witzke - Partner and Marketing at Agora Architecture