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Architectural Plans, Code Plans, and Exit plans for...

Daycare for kids or adults with developmental disabilities

There are two kinds major categories of daycares, the kind for children, and the kind for adults with developmental disabilities, both share essentially the same code requirements, although those can vary some based on size, age, and ability.

Requirements vary by jurisdiction (city, county, or state), so it is important you know the exact rules for your daycare based on where it's located. National Code Plans can help you sort this out so you get open faster.


What types of Daycares are there?

The traditional daycare for children has several subcategories, small in-home daycare's of typically less than 24 kids, larger daycare programs for about 24-100 children, and then the largest daycare facilities for more than 100 kids. The in-home daycare programs rarely need a sealed code plan by a licensed architect, but often need a "scaled plan of the home." This is just a general sketch of the house to review it's layout, and can be prepared by nearly anyone.

The most common kind of daycare is the day program type for more than 24 and less than 100 kids (those numbers can vary some by jurisdiction), these always require a sealed code plan and have to have upgraded life safety and fire protection features. The largest program types, of 100 or more kids, often have even higher standards of life safety and fire protection due to the large number of kids in the building and the potential for more problems.

Adult daycare's are similar to children's daycare's, and are typically for a smaller number of clients, maybe 10-20 on average. These daycare's are often not an in-home type, and are held in a commercial real-estate location or office, these do have extra standards of care and safety as well. These daycare's sometimes have extra rooms or requirements that a children's daycare would not, like a quite room or sensory room for example.

Below is some more information about these daycare's, but please check our blog page for in-depth articles that go into detail about the code and safety requirements for these homes.

Taking Care of Plants

Do I need a fire alarm system?

In most states, in-home daycare's do not need a fire alarm system, but for larger commercial type daycare's of 24 or more clients, all programs need a fire alarm system, even if they are sprinkled. The fire alarm system includes smoke detectors in every room that are all connected to the Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP). This panel, a big red box, is the "brains" of the system that does all of the work and sounds the alarm when smoke is detected. Typically a smaller red panel known as the Fire Alarm Announciator Panel (FAAP) is located near the front entry of the daycare, this smaller panel tells the first responders what the trouble is and where it's located when they enter the business. Also included in the fire alarm system are manual alarm pull stations located at each exit from the daycare, these are the little red boxes where you can pull the lever to sound the alarm.

Do I need a sprinkler system?

Sprinkler systems make the building extra safe, because if a fire occurs, it triggers the sprinkler head to start extinguishing the fire so it doesn't spread. If a sprinkler system, also known as an Automatic Suppresion System, is required, then they'll need to be installed in every room of the business. Sprinklers are also very expensive, with prices starting at $40,000. Due to the high costs of sprinklers, there are various design features of the business that can be done to eliminate the need for sprinkling the building. Please review the blogs for more information as there can be a lot to this topic.

How many kids or day-program clients can I have?

Every jurisdiction sets a minimum square footage limit for each child or day-program client. Age can also play a factor. Typically you need 35 SF per child, but in some states it can be more or less than that. Some states also have other limiting factors other than just the size of the day-use rooms, sometimes there are required indoor or outdoor play areas that have to be a minimum size, and if you have large indoor classrooms, but small play areas, that could reduce your total number of kids. There can even be other more obscure code requirements that could affect your occupancy numbers, we know of a horror story where an architecture firm designed a daycare for 140 kids, but only had 5' wide hallways, so the fire marshal would only license the daycare for 100 children because the hallways weren't at least 6' wide, this mistake cost the daycare owner ten of thousands of dollars a year in income. Stories like this are why you want an architect with in-depth knowledge of daycare code footprints and code requirements.

The Process

Colleagues Working Together


Initial Consultation

Contact National Code Plans as soon as you can to discuss your project, even before you buy a home or building for your business. We can help you understand the rules, what to look for in a property, and everything else you need to know for licensure related to the building.


Measure the Building

Once you have a building or site, we'll send a representative from National Code Plans to you to measure and sketch up the building. If you have a plan, we can work with that too.


Draw the Code Plan

Once we have a plan, we'll draw up the building and add all of the code information. If you're doing remodel work, we'll prepare demolition and remodel plans so you have a full set of drawings for permits, bids, and licensure.

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