Key Project Terms: Alterations: Residential & Community Facilities

The following is a list of useful terms to use when researching additional Residential & Community Facilities information on each of the topics discussed:

AIRS - Affordable Independent Residences for Seniors

Per ZR 12-10, AIRS or “affordable independent residence for seniors” is that portion of a building containing residences in which at least 90 percent of the dwelling units are allocated to AIRS. Each unit must be occupied by at least one person who is 62 years of age or older, except for a super’s unit, as detailed in ZR 23-911. All AIRS dwelling units are Income-restricted Housing Units per ZR 12-10, and are used for MDL Class A occupancy. HPD approval is needed for any AIRS development and shall be noted on the Certificate of Occupancy. In R6, R6A, R7, R7A districts, the FAR for AIRS is higher than the FAR permitted for Inclusionary Housing buildings.

Adult Home

An adult care facility established and operated for the purpose of providing long-term residential care, room, board, housekeeping, personal care and supervision to five or more adults unrelated to the operator.


An alteration project always results in a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy. The work may involve a substantial enlargement or reduction in the size of the building, or involve a major change to the building’s egress, zoning use group, and/or building code occupancy use.

Assisted Living

See Residential Care/Assisted Living definition below.

Building Systems Work

The installation, modification, or upgrade of existing building systems; including plumbing, boiler, sprinkler, standpipe, fire alarm, HVAC, and fire suppression systems; if such work is part of the work scope, the alteration must include these in the project’s scope of work.

Certificate of Occupancy

A new or amended Certificate of Occupancy is issued for a building on completion of a project involving a change in occupancy or use, or when there are other changes that affect the existing Certificate of Occupancy. For example, if an existing building is vertically enlarged by a complete story, or if the use of a building is changed from commercial to residential, a new or amended C of O would be required. Reference AC 28-118.3 for more information.

The following may also be issued:

  • A Partial Certificate of Occupancy, for a portion of a building, depending on construction progress and safety;

  • Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, for a limited duration of time, because the project is not closed due to certain final inspections not being performed, final surveys not submitted, etc., per AC 28-118.16.


Per the Zoning Resolution, commercial, as applied to a building’s use, is any retail, service or office use group, but also describes the type of zoning district. Other occupancy classifications in the Building Code are also referred to as commercial, and are listed under Mercantile (M) or Business (B).

Community Facility

As per the Zoning Resolution, a community facility may be located in residential areas to serve, on a not-for-profit basis, the educational, emotional, mental health needs, or other similar essential services of its residents.

Elevation in Flood Zones

Elevating a building to ensure that lowest occupied floor is above the flood levels per FEMA flood maps and as described in BC Appendix G and ZR Article VI.


Per the Zoning Resolution, an enlargement is an addition to the floor area of an existing building or zoning lot, or an expansion of a use to an area not previously used for such purpose.

Per the Building Code, an enlargement is any addition of gross floor area to a building.

High Rise Building

A building with an occupied floor located more than 75 feet (22 860 mm) above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.


Per the Building Code, an Institutional Group I occupancy includes the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, in which people are cared for or live in a supervised environment, who have physical limitations because of health or age, who are harbored for medical treatment or other care or treatment, or who are detained for penal or correctional purposes.

Large-scale Community Facility Development

Per ZR 12-10, one or more buildings on a single zoning lot or two or more zoning lots that are contiguous or would be contiguous but for their separation by a street or a street intersection, used predominantly for community facility uses and developed as a single unit.

  • A large scale residential development has an area of at least 1.5 acres and at least three buildings, or an area of at least 3 acres and at least 500 dwelling units.

Layout Changes

Include changes to floor layouts that add, relocate, remodel, enlarge or reduce the size of interior rooms while maintaining the same building envelope.

Mixed Building

Per the Zoning Resolution, a mixed building is a building used partly for residential use and partly for community facility, and/or commercial use.

Mixed Occupancy

Per the Building Code, a building with mixed occupancy would contain two or more occupancy classifications. Such occupancy classifications may or may not match the zoning use groups.

Occupancy Classification

This is the purpose or activity for which a building or space is used or is designed, arranged or intended to be used as defined in the Building Code.

Partial Demolition

Maintaining the same building envelope, any construction that involves the removal, replacement or repair of load bearing and/or non-load bearing interior partitions, changes to structural elements (interior or exterior), and facade changes or other upgrades.


Per the Building Code (BC) 310, Residential Group R includes the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, for dwelling or sleeping purposes when not classified as Institutional Group I.

Per the Zoning Resolution, “Residential,” as applied to a building’s use, is a building with one or more dwelling units or rooming units, but with exceptions. “Residential” can also describe the type of zoning district.


The purpose for which a building, structure, building area/space or open tract of land is designed, arranged maintained or occupied.

Use Group

The use as defined in ZR Section 12-10, and is any purpose for which a building or other structure, or an open tract of land, may be designed, arranged, intended, maintained or occupied; furthermore the use is any activity, occupation, business or operation carried on, or intended to be carried on.

Zoning/The Zoning Resolution (ZR)

The aim of zoning is to promote an orderly pattern of development and to separate incompatible land uses, such as industrial uses and homes, to ensure a pleasant environment. The Zoning Resolution is a legal instrument to regulate and establish limits on the use of land and building size, shape, height, and setback.

Zoning Lot

A zoning lot is a tract of land for which specific zoning regulations apply. A zoning lot does not have to coincide with a tax lot, and can consist of one tax lot or multiple tax lots. Multiple buildings can present on a single zoning lot or on a single zoning lot.

Key Points & Project Terms Categories

  1. Alterations

  2. Building Systems Installation & Modifications

  3. Construction Equipment

  4. Demolition COMING SOON!

  5. New Buildings COMING SOON!

  6. Renovations

Helpful Links