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  1. #1
    James Norman's Avatar
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    Default Separation wall for duplex

    I was called out to a duplex that has one side is on the market to sell. This unit was constructed in 2002. While inspecting I noticed that the fire wall stopped at the top of the ceiling joist and the lower fire wall stopped at the bottom of the ceiling loist. Leaving an opening between every rafter. as of todays codes I know this is unacceptable. I do not have any reference material for 2002. Was this acceptable at that time?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by James Norman View Post
    I was called out to a duplex that has one side is on the market to sell. This unit was constructed in 2002. While inspecting I noticed that the fire wall stopped at the top of the ceiling joist and the lower fire wall stopped at the bottom of the ceiling loist. Leaving an opening between every rafter. as of todays codes I know this is unacceptable. I do not have any reference material for 2002. Was this acceptable at that time?
    It wouldn't matter to me if it was or was not required in 2002. If it was the building inspector is not going to come back 10 years latter and say it needs to be done.


    I would just state the fire wall should be sealed with the proper material to stop/delay fire spread between the units. It only costs a few bucks to correct it.

    Last edited by Dan Harris; 12-14-2012 at 09:49 AM.
    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
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  3. #3
    James Norman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    They are going to fix the issue. If it was constructed incorrectly in 2002 then the repair cost may fall upon the seller. Thats the reason for asking about the codes at time of construction.


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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by James Norman View Post
    They are going to fix the issue. If it was constructed incorrectly in 2002 then the repair cost may fall upon the seller. Thats the reason for asking about the codes at time of construction.
    I see where you coming from.
    Personally I would not go there. What happens if the buyer finds an item that was code but not reported in the future?
    I'm thinking they will /could come back and expect you should pay for it since it was code when the home was built , but not disclosed in your inspection.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
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  5. #5
    James Norman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    It is definitly in my report. The whole purpose of asking is just to appease the realitor.


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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by James Norman View Post
    It is definitly in my report. The whole purpose of asking is just to appease the realitor.
    From what i've heard appeasing the realtor only works if it helps sell the current home. Any problem down the road where you can't appease them, they quickly forget how you appeased them on the last sale.

    Dang.. I hope I'm not starting to sound like Ted. If anyone thinks I am let me know and I'll put him on my do not read list

    Last edited by Dan Harris; 12-14-2012 at 11:03 AM.
    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
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  7. #7
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    I admit not knowing what National code mandates may be, but believe this is AHJ territory. Jurisdictional Fire Marshalls have the final say on things like this and that would be your source of compliance verification. Easier to note the concern and defer to current code enforcement.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by James Norman View Post
    I was called out to a duplex that has one side is on the market to sell. This unit was constructed in 2002. While inspecting I noticed that the fire wall stopped at the top of the ceiling joist and the lower fire wall stopped at the bottom of the ceiling loist. Leaving an opening between every rafter. as of todays codes I know this is unacceptable. I do not have any reference material for 2002. Was this acceptable at that time?
    IRC for 2000. Section R321,1 Two-Family dwellings. Dwelling units in two-family dwellings shall be separated from each other by wall and/or floor assemblies of not less than 1-hour fire-resistive rating when tested in accordance with ASTM E 119. Fire-resistance-rated floor-ceiling and wall assemblies shall extend to and be tight against the exterior wall, and wall assemblies shall extend to the underside of the roof sheathing.

    Exception: A fire resistance rating of 1/2 hour shall be permitted in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with NFPA 13.


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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    How about this opening on the foundation wall in the duplex crawl?

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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hagenlock View Post
    IRC for 2000. Section R321,1 Two-Family dwellings. Dwelling units in two-family dwellings shall be separated from each other by wall and/or floor assemblies of not less than 1-hour fire-resistive rating when tested in accordance with ASTM E 119. Fire-resistance-rated floor-ceiling and wall assemblies shall extend to and be tight against the exterior wall, and wall assemblies shall extend to the underside of the roof sheathing.

    Exception: A fire resistance rating of 1/2 hour shall be permitted in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with NFPA 13.
    Hey Mark, Or anyone, I just ran into the same thing today, except the townhouse was built in 1974. The attic was wide open to 5 units in one direction, and 5 units the other way. They are single level units. When was fireblocking required? Yes, I'm calling it out in the report, but the buyer was curious as to when it was required. I can see boxes stored in the attic space of the unit 2 doors down! The buyer was also concerned that people can easily break into all the house by the common attic space. I appreciate any help.
    Thanks!
    Happy Holidays!

    Last edited by Dave Hill; 12-19-2012 at 04:06 PM.
    Dave Hill
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hill View Post
    Hey Mark, Or anyone, I just ran into the same thing today, except the townhouse was built in 1974. The attic was wide open to 5 units in one direction, and 5 units the other way. They are single level units. When was fireblocking required? Yes, I'm calling it out in the report, but the buyer was curious as to when it was required. I can see boxes stored in the attic space of the unit 2 doors down! The buyer was also concerned that people can easily break into all the house by the common attic space. I appreciate any help.
    Thanks!
    Happy Holidays!
    1974- Sorry Dave. Just got my drivers license. Cars, trucks, bikes and girls. That's all I cared about. Maybe not in that order.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    i would be curious to see how you can sell one half of a "duplex" . Duplexes are not considered separate buildings when it comes to ownership of the building and lot. Townhouses are designed and built as such, not duplex units.


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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    I can't address "how" you can sell half of a duplex as to the legal aspects but I can tell you that around here it is common. The title is for half of the unit. I also commonly see half of the shingles replaced on older duplex units.
    I'm sure there may be legal challenges as well as practical issues but it is done.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    both the opening in the crawl and the discontinuous of fire separating materials should be noted as a possible hazard and recommended that they seek professional advice from the local code enforcement and fire martial. Codes are funny things, since April of 94, if something was build in 2000, they may be under the jurisdiction of the municipality code enforcement that opted out of the mandate or more likely, code enforcement fell under a 3rd party enforcement agency such as "Code Sys" and other national code inspection and enforcement companies used by smaller municipalities to be in compliance with the new international building code. and then, they may have inspected it in 2000 when it was built using the 1998 "BOCA" code.. most inspecting and enforcement agencies use a previously adopted code then the date of the building's construction. usually a couple of years behind. So, if something were sent in for approval today, December 21st, (Dooms day).. it may fall under the 2012 IBC code as it is presented for approval before construction.. then, if there is a delay in construction, it may not be finished until May 2013.. and then 10 years from now, someone will want to know what code it was built under... see the issue? Report it as a discontinuous fire separation and refer them to the authorities or proper inspecting agency would be my suggestion...


  15. #15
    Dennis Webber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Louis View Post
    How about this opening on the foundation wall in the duplex crawl?
    Code states "... shall be continuous"


  16. #16
    Dennis Webber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Bauer View Post
    i would be curious to see how you can sell one half of a "duplex" . Duplexes are not considered separate buildings when it comes to ownership of the building and lot. Townhouses are designed and built as such, not duplex units.
    Property line runs down through the center (fire separation assembly) and includes the lot encompassing up to the division of the home (fire separation assembly).


  17. #17
    Terry Silva's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    I can't address "how" you can sell half of a duplex as to the legal aspects but I can tell you that around here it is common. The title is for half of the unit. I also commonly see half of the shingles replaced on older duplex units.
    I'm sure there may be legal challenges as well as practical issues but it is done.
    It depends on the zoning, I owned one in Nevada 26 years ago, it was designated as a zero property line, single family dwelling.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    The other concern I would note is "security". Generally an attic access hatch is required, thus what security seperation if any exist between the units? I have often pointed out where such a breach exist the potential for access from opening through the other opening.

    Again generally a fire seperation also is a continuous fire barrier from the lowest floor level - example basement floor to the underside of the roof.

    Oh and any need to consider sound attenuation?


  19. #19
    Bruce Grant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    I have seen these units with open access before in Toronto as well, this from google
    A 31-year-old woman who lives at Lincoln Greens apartments, 2301 NW 122, told police she found holes in her bathroom ceiling that provided a view from the attic. In the attic, also accessible through her closet, there is access to seven other apartments, she said.
    Police this week followed a footpath over the insulation from an area near the holes to a man's apartment. The man, 27, had insulation on his shoes when interviewed by police Monday, a police report said. Inside the man's apartment, police found computer equipment and a videocassette recorder. The property was seized by officers. The man was not arrested.
    Yes I would report the security issue as well in a duplex..


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Separation wall for duplex

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    I can't address "how" you can sell half of a duplex as to the legal aspects but I can tell you that around here it is common. The title is for half of the unit. I also commonly see half of the shingles replaced on older duplex units.
    I'm sure there may be legal challenges as well as practical issues but it is done.
    You may be confused. In my area what he is describing we would call a twin. A duplex would be a two unit building of any configuration with both units on one lot with one deed. In some areas they call two attached units on separate lots duplexes.


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