Occupancy Classification_I or R

I need some help to interpret the correct occupancy group for senior living housing. Should it be classified as group I or R ?

Thank you


@coachdarionziegler do you mind helping with this question?

Hi @JessicaY,

Oh man, this is a good question!

I’m afraid there is no easy answer for this one and it is a challenge I’ve tacked a few times in my professional practice, so I’m very excited I get to answer this!

The answer is that it depends on a number of factors. The main concern of the code is how many occupants there are and how capable the occupants are of performing an evacuation. Your I uses are considered higher risk than your R uses as occupants in I uses are less able to perform an evacuation on their own. Depending on they sub category of I use the occupants of may be able to perform an evacuation, may require assistance to perform an evacuation, or may not be able to perform an evacuation. If occupants are unable to perform an evacuation you may be looking at a ‘defend in place’ situation where occupants are expected to be able to stay in situ until emergency personal arrive. In a ‘defend in place’ scenario you are going to have high requirements for fire ratings and separations!

“Assisted Living Facilities” are use group I-1. These facilities are then further classified into either “Condition 1”, in which occupants can perform an evacuation, or “Condition 2”, in which occupants require assistance to perform an evacuation.

Situations that would typically be considered I-1 but are limited to a small number of residences may also be considered R-3 use or R-4 use if an appropriate sprinkler system is used (refer to IBC 2018 section 308.2).

“Nursing Homes” are use group I-2. Read through IBC 2018 section 308.3 for more information on the sub categories and exceptions for this classification!

And then, you can see in IBC 2018 section 310.5 that R-4 uses are the same as I-1, including “assisted living facilities”, but when the number of persons receiving care is between 5 and 16.

If we are talking about a retirement home where residents live independently (or an “independent living facility”) then your use group will be R-2.

And last but not least, R-3 is the designation for literally everything that doesn’t fit into the other occupancies:

You’re not the only one who has had this question! Check out the forum below:

As well, the ICC had to release a clarification on this section of the code back in 2000. You can read it below:

Hope this helps!

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Wow, your explanation is very thorough and helpful. I’m crossing my fingers that the PDD case study questions won’t be at this level of complication.

Thank you


No worries, I wouldn’t expect the exam to go into near as much depth as that!

If an “Assisted Living Facility” is mentioned I would assume the occupancy is I-1 unless another piece of information is given.

Good luck on your exam!

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