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  1. #1
    AJ DeCenzo's Avatar
    AJ DeCenzo Guest

    Default Fire Code Violation?

    Hey guys, I have a contract on a townhouse that was built in 1985. Yesterday an inspector came in and said the attic violates fire code. 2 of the sellers inspectors disagree and say "it may look like sh*t, but its up to code. Though we have cinderblock parting walls on each side, somebody in 1994 hung fire rated drywall on the sheething for some reason. So we're confused. I don't know who to believe nor what to do. And wouldn't code in 1985 be grandfathered into the house? Why would anyone need to add fireproofing? Thanks. Here's some pics:

    drywall.jpg photo.JPG

    This is my first post, sorry if the pics aren't sized correctly...

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Windsor Ontario
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Fire Code Violation?

    Quote Originally Posted by AJ DeCenzo View Post
    Hey guys, I have a contract on a townhouse that was built in 1985. Yesterday an inspector came in and said the attic violates fire code. 2 of the sellers inspectors disagree and say "it may look like sh*t, but its up to code. Though we have cinderblock parting walls on each side, somebody in 1994 hung fire rated drywall on the sheething for some reason. So we're confused. I don't know who to believe nor what to do. And wouldn't code in 1985 be grandfathered into the house? Why would anyone need to add fireproofing? Thanks. Here's some pics:

    drywall.jpg photo.JPG

    This is my first post, sorry if the pics aren't sized correctly...
    I would approach this by first researching the main material. In this case it would be what fire resistance rating will cinder block serving as a "fire-seperation" provide. Of course you could provide more detail by considering the whole wall assembly. But i do not think that is necessary at this point based on the conditions I see from the photos.

    Here's my quick search info - ORCO block

    I live in Ontario, Canada, so I would use my provincial building code as a reference guide. But I hope you get the general idea, at least of my approach.

    I also agree why would anyone need to add the additional fire rated cladding? Perhaps to conceal some breaches in the block party wall.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Posts
    885

    Default Re: Fire Code Violation?

    Quote Originally Posted by AJ DeCenzo View Post
    Hey guys, I have a contract on a townhouse that was built in 1985. Yesterday an inspector came in and said the attic violates fire code. 2 of the sellers inspectors disagree and say "it may look like sh*t, but its up to code. Though we have cinderblock parting walls on each side, somebody in 1994 hung fire rated drywall on the sheething for some reason. So we're confused. I don't know who to believe nor what to do. And wouldn't code in 1985 be grandfathered into the house? Why would anyone need to add fireproofing? Thanks. Here's some pics:

    drywall.jpg photo.JPG

    This is my first post, sorry if the pics aren't sized correctly...
    Since there wasn't a statewide uniform building code in affect in Virginia in 1984-1985, you would have to check with the Fairfax County or appropriate jurisdiction in Fairfax County for a correct answer. The block walls had to go all the way up to the roof to be effective. I don't think that the code requirement for a fire barrier on the first 4-feet of the roof sheathing was in effect then and has apparently gone away in recent years. Perhaps someone sold it before and a Yea-hoo home inspector said it was required based on his or her knowledge of the codes at that time. Someone said heck, let's not fight it, just put it in.

    The only code thing that cannot be grandfathered in Virginia, as far as I know, is upgrading the smoke alarm system in a residence whenever electrical modifications are made to the original house. Not repair, but you add a circuit (requires a permit) and the smoke alarms have to upgraded to current code requirements.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Anacortes, Washington
    Posts
    395

    Default Re: Fire Code Violation?

    Your best bet is to call the city fire marshal and have a discussion with them on whether it meets "code" which normally would be the code at the time of construction. If no modifications have been made to the wall and the city inspector signed off on the permits then it meets "code". If there have been modifications that were un-permitted then you have a challenge.

    //Rick

    Rick Bunzel
    WWW.PacCrestInspections.com
    360-588-6956

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Hercules, CA
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: Fire Code Violation?

    If there is no 30" parapet wall above the roof at the party wall then the code required one-hour fire rated protection on the bottom of the rafters (not the sheathing) for a distance of 5'-0" on each side of the party wall. The rafter protection was a substitution for a parapet to prevent fire from spreading at the roof from one unit to the next. The application of drywall in 1994 should have been on the bottom of the rafters, not the sheathing.

    This answer is based on the 1982 Uniform Building Code.

    Thom Huggett, PE, SE, CBO

  6. #6
    AJ DeCenzo's Avatar
    AJ DeCenzo Guest

    Default Re: Fire Code Violation?

    Thank you all for the detailed information! It was a vicious battle, but we were able to have the sellers credit us for a new roof, and I can basically get one done at cost. Worked out for the best.

    AJ


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