King Solomon and the Building Official

As part of my regular Bible reading,  I read 1 Kings 6. Take a minute and at least read versus 2-6…I will wait.

The entire chapter is fascinating to me as a person involved with worship, ministry, and facility development…but as I started reading those selected versus, I could not escape my mind wandering into the realm of the absurd. I started thinking what it would have been like for Solomon if he would have had to get a building permit for the Temple based on many of the requirements in modern day building code. I could not help myself (I am weird that way).  The more I thought about it, the more I realized how overwhelming these kind of issues can be to church leaders who just need more space and yet seem to have to deal with a flood of requirements that impact their design, function…and particularly their budget.

So what might it have been like for Solomon?

The following are some of the things a code official might have confronted the King with had our current codes been enforceable.

Enjoy…and Merry Christmas! 


Dear King Solomon:

It has come to the building department’s attention that you are constructing a new temple for assembly occupancy and public meetings. While we support the development of such structures, we need to bring several critical issues to your attention that require immediate correction and adjust.

Please read the following and then contact our office with any questions or clarifications and to provide us with the required documentation. Your prompt compliance with these requirements is appreciated:

  1. After searching our files and the scroll room, we are not able to locate an application for a building permit. As a government official, I am sure you understand the need to adhere to all required rules, regulations and ordinances. We require a detailed set of plans for our review and approval (please do not submit on stone tablets as we do not have the storage for such).
  2. Based on information obtained by our team, it appears that you intend do build the assembly building 90 feet x 30 feet. This would equate to 2,700 square feet. Using our occupancy formula of 7 square feet per person, this space could accommodate 385 people ( 2700/7). The current building code requires all assembly buildings with an occupancy of 300 or more to have an approved automatic fire sprinkler/suppression system. Please ensure that this is reflected on your submitted plans.
  3. We understand that you intend to construct the side walls to a height of 45 feet. We have 2 serious concerns about this. First, please get with the zoning office to ensure that you are in compliance with the height restrictions for that zoning district. Secondly, your project is in a seismic zone that requires special attention given to the structural components of all buildings with special consideration given to buildings with such height. Please ensure that your submitted plans address all of these requirements.
  4. It is our understanding that you intend to build this structure with 3 floors. This is of great concern and need to draw your attention to our accessibility ordinance. You will need to provide for the vertical accessibility by means of an elevator to reach all 3 floors. In addition, you will need two (2) other means of fire rated egress from each floor to a fire rated exit to the exterior of the building. In addition, please review the ordinance for the required Area of Refuge and the required 2-way communication system. NOTE: The use of ram-horns are not acceptable means of communication.
  5. Our new building code no longer allows beams used to support an upper floor to merely rest on the structural wall below.  The new code requires the following:
  • Structural footings and pads under all structural members
  • Columns or other structural accommodation to support upper beams
  • All beams must be mechanically fastened to the columns below using the approved seismic fasteners, hangers and straps
  1. Based on the occupancy calculation above, and your chariot parking requirement of 1 space per 4 seats, you will need to provide 97 parking spaces (385/4) which must include the appropriate ratio of handicap enabled spaces. As an aside, while the 4:1 ratio is code minimum, we have found that other such assembly facilities require a ratio closer to 2:1.

We believe there will be more items to address once we receive and review your signed and sealed building plans. However, these are critical items that must be addressed before you submit.

Thanks you for your understanding and prompt attention to these matters.

As always, please remember that we are the government and are here to “help.”

Mr.  Building Official

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