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Change of Use

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Buildings and sites are designed and constructed to comply with state and local regulations for their intended use and occupancy. The Development Services department classifies buildings and sites by their “use” in accordance with criteria in the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The NC State Building Code classifies buildings and facilities by their “use and occupancy.” 

When the use or occupancy of a building (or portion thereof) changes, it is necessary to bring the building into compliance with codes and ordinances for the new use and/or occupancy.

To determine whether a change of use under the Unified Development Ordinance is occurring and what actions might be required, call the Land Development team at (252) 399-2220 - Option 3 then 1.

To determine whether a change of use or occupancy is occurring under the NC State Building Code, call the Inspections Department at (252) 399-2220 - Option 1 then 3.

Note: NC State Building Code requires issuance of a new Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for any change of use or occupancy. Before a new CO can be issued, compliance with the building code must be verified through plan review, permitting and inspection.

Understanding Occupancy Classifications

The NC State Building Code defines ten different occupancy groups:

• ASSEMBLY: Spaces used for gatherings of large groups of people
• BUSINESS: Offices and professional service-type uses
• EDUCATIONAL: (education through the twelfth grade, daycare for children over 2.5 years of age) 
• FACTORY: Manufacturing
• HAZARDOUS: Storage or handling of hazardous materials, including explosives, flammables, and hazardous chemicals
• INSTITUTIONAL: Occupants incapable of response and evacuation without assistance in an emergency 
• MERCANTILE: Display and sale of merchandise 
• RESIDENTIAL: Sleeping purposes not classified as Group I or regulated by NC Residential Code 
• STORAGE: Storage of materials not classified as Group H hazardous 
• UTILITY: Accessory structures and miscellaneous buildings not otherwise classified

Each building and each space within a building must be classified in accordance with the use and occupancy it most closely resembles.

 Relative Use Group Hazard

 1 (highest) H-1, I, Nightclub
 2 A-2, R-1, R-2
 3 A-1, A-3
 4 F-1, M, S-1
 5 A-4, E
 6 (lowest) B, F-2, R-3, R-4, S-2, U