True horse riding arenas are big buildings. Even a relatively small one at 60 foot wide by 120 feet long is a big building – 7200 square feet. Add on a decent width (12 foot as a minimum) aisleway and (10) 12 foot square spaces for stalls, wash racks, tack and/or feed rooms and we are now up to over 10,000 square feet. I have done up to 100 foot wide clearspan by 240 feet long – just for the arena! Some states exempt horse riding arenas from building permits – but what about those which are required to get permits? What should their Occupancy Classification be?
This is a question which is not clearly answered by the Building Code books. In most instances, arenas would be classified as “U” – however it is possible the officials might try to deem it as being “A” (assembly) “B” (business) or “S” (storage), which could entail the need for restrooms, accessibility and depending upon the square footage – sprinklers.
I did some searching at www.TheBuildingCodeForum.com where many of the participants are code officials. The State of Montana has their own amendment to the IBC (International Building Code) which I found posted on a forum.
(8) The following modifications apply to riding arenas:
(a) Subsection 312.1 is amended by addition of the following paragraph: “Riding arenas limited to occupant loads of 200 or less and used for boarding, breeding, and training of horses, horse shows and competitions, clinics and rider instruction, and open riding are considered agricultural buildings subject to the provisions of Appendix Chapter C, as amended. Uses such as rodeos, barn dances, craft and other nonlivestock shows, conventions, and similar events which result in large numbers of spectators or occupants are not allowed in riding arenas classified as agricultural buildings.”
(b) Appendix Chapter C, Subsection C101.1 is amended by addition of: “9. Riding arenas as defined in amended Subsection 312.1.”
Planning a riding arena, in a state other than Montana, and finding the Planning and/or Building Departments want it to be classified as other than a U occupancy? If so, I would certainly pull out Montana’s amendment as it does make practical sense and see if you can sway the powers to be. When it comes to a savings of thousands of dollars, the effort can be well worth it!