Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

Adapting an Existing Building

​Finding an open, slab-on-grade building with plenty of parking is good news--especially if it is well-located with easy access. Without a site visit, it's not possible to offer specific advice, but some general considerations are below. This list is a general starting point and there will be other legal or structural issues to consider.


Site Review:

KDLA normally recommends having an architect visit any site to confirm issues such as building condition and usability, parking, utilities, etc. One of the most important issues may be to confirm that the building can carry book stacks which require 150 pounds per square foot. This is far higher than most other commercial structures. If your building is a single floor with a normal slab-on-grade, chances are very good that it will meet that requirement. It is also imperative to acquire a building that can be adapted to have an open, flexible floor plan with few separate rooms. This will allow more efficient staffing, more effective supervision, and continued adaptation as library functions evolve.



If alterations are being made, KDLA generally recommends hiring a licensed architect to design the modifications.

  • An architect will also verify code requirements as building, plumbing, electrical, and ADA codes are exceedingly complex and intended to be applied by licensed tradesmen and designers; assist with bidding; and supervise the actual work.
  • If the modifications are very limited, an architect may not be required by law.
  • Because even the most limited renovations might result in a change in building-code use group, requiring more involved modifications, it is always best to confirm what requirements exist to adapt a building.


As a subdivision of state government, your library is required to use architectural services for major renovation projects.

  • These activities may be indicators that an architect is required by law:
    • Changes to structural elements,
    • Changes requiring code inspections and,
    • Significant changes involving multiple building systems.


Even simple projects can involve basic library design principles, so it is best to use an architect with experience in designing public libraries in Kentucky. Their experience can bring a lot of value to the project.


It is important confirm that your architect is licensed and registered to practice in Kentucky. If you need help confirming an architect's registration number, please contact the KDLA Construction Consultant.


Licensed Trades and Building Codes:

As with any building project, modifications made to your facility will need to comply with the requirements of the building codes. Electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and other modifications and repairs need to be made by craftsmen who are licensed in those trades. In general, these craftsmen will be responsible for code compliance.


$30,000 Bid Limit:

If any modifications are likely to exceed the $30,000 limit as required by law, you will need to advertise for sealed bids on that work.


Prevailing Wage:

If the combined total of all modifications to the building will exceed $250,000, state law requires that all of the contractors pay the prevailing wage in your community.


Legal Consultations:

Consult with an attorney on these issues:

  • Deeds, real estate contracts, etc.;
  • Bid exemptions for professional services (such as architects);
  • Prevailing wage requirements;
  • Bidding requirements for construction;
  • Contractor Bid Bond and Payment and Performance Bond requirements.


For Additional Information:

The following statutes are applicable to topics discussed in the section. The library attorney may want to refer to these statutes for more detailed legal information on these topics.

KRS 323.003 – Buildings requiring services of licensed architect.

KRS 424.260 – Bids for materials, supplies, equipment, or services.

KRS 45A.380 – Noncompetitive negotiation (bid exemptions for professional services; architects, etc.)