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How to keep on the right side of planning laws when building a kitchen

How to keep on the right side of planning laws when building a kitchen

Building codes are locally enforced laws that govern building construction and renovations. They exist for your safety, and if your remodel involves anything more than refinishing the surfaces, chances are there are codes you'll need to follow. Your kitchen drawings probably won't include all of the structural and mechanical elements governed by the applicable building codes, but knowing a few of the basic guidelines can help you understand-and plan for--the various utilities that make your kitchen work. Be aware that the regulations listed here are merely general guidelines. Consult your local building department for a complete and current list of codes and regulations for your area.

Guidelines for Basic Construction

Most building codes require that a kitchen has at least one window that provides at least 10 sq. ft. of the glass surface. Some localities do allow windowless kitchens, as long as the kitchen is properly vented. However, a windowless kitchen is less appealing than one that has windows or other openings to the outdoors.

Kitchen designers recommend that kitchens have windows, doors or skylights that together have a total glass surface equal to at least 25% of the total floor area. Kitchens may be required to have at least two points of entry (keep in mind that the traffic flow between them should not intrude on the work triangle). As a rule, exterior entry doors leading into a kitchen must be at least 3 ft. wide (called a three door) and interior passage doors between kitchens and other rooms must be at least 21/2 ft. wide (called two-six doors).

Guidelines for Electrical Service & Lighting

Nearly any kitchen remodelling project will require some upgrading of the electrical service. While your current kitchen may be served by a single 120-volt circuit, it's not uncommon today for a large kitchen to use as many as seven individual circuits. ln some cases, the additional load may mean you have to upgrade the main electrical service for the entire house. To get an idea of how extensive your electrical improvements need to be, compare your current service with the code guidelines in.

Estimating Electrical Needs

Depending on the size of your project, you may want to call in an electrician to assess your current service and your planned changes. In regard to lighting, the National Electrical Code requires only that a kitchen has some form of illumination controlled by a wall switch, but for reasons of safety, comfort and aesthetics, consider the following additions to your lighting plan.

  • Estimating Electrical Needs
  • The National Electrical Code requires that all kitchens meet the following electrical guidelines:
  •  Wall outlets spaced no more than 6 ft. apart.
  •  Countertop outlets spaced no more than 2 ft. apart.
  •  GFCI (Ground fault circuit interrupter) protection for all countertop receptacles.
  •  At least two 120 volts, 20-amp circuits; one to supply power to the refrigerator and the other for plug-in countertop appliances.
  • Dedicated circuits for each major appliance. install a 20-amp, 120-volt circuit for a built - in microwave, a 15-amp circuit for the dishwasher and food disposer.

An electric range, cooktop or wall oven requires a dedicated 50-amp, 240-volt circuit. After you estimate how much electrical service your new kitchen will need, compare it to your exist- ing service by examining your service panel (usually located in the basement or attached garage). If the panel has a number of open slots, your electrician should be able to add additional circuits easily. lf it doesn't, your new kitchen may require an upgraded sewice panel.