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  1. #1
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    Default Detached garage with no man door.

    Is a garage required to have means of access other than the vehicle door?

    Saw a detached garage today with a power opener and only a vehicle door.

    How the heck would you get in if there is a power or door mechanism failure?

    Does the IRC address this?

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  2. #2
    Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    See...

    Keyed Disconnect Device - Emergency Release

    I don't know of any code that would prohibit a vault style (no other entrance) garage, but I always recommend one of these if it has an opener. That's assuming it doesn't already have one...most do around here. Bad enough losing your power, but to then not be able to drive anywhere would really suck.

    In case it's not clear, the cable attaches to the traveller disconnect. You unlock the thing and then pull out the keyed section along with the cable. One sharp tug and...Open Sesame. I put one in for a neighbor once. 15 minutes work at most.

    The only caveat is that while they can close the door manually, they may not be able to "relock" the door during that time. That would depend on the type of drive, the traveller and, of course, any other locking mechanism the door might still have that could be made functional again.

    Last edited by Richard Moore; 05-16-2008 at 12:35 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    I've seen many like those Richard linked to, they work great, attached garages with only the overhead door for access (typically used for golf carts on the houses I inspected).

    The ones I saw would allow you to re-insert the keyed lock mechanism (giving the cable to the emergency release device slack), then you could reset the emergency release lever to automatically engage when the door closed.

    That way, you could close the door from the outside and it would lock back into the opener traveler and lock the door closed.

    However, they would not do any good if the door opener track itself or if the traveler itself broke - guess you would be stuck in there then.

    Of course, though, those are to allow access into that space, you are referring to getting out once in and the door is closed, right?

    I always suggested to my clients that they have a door operator button installed on the wall inside those garages in case they were in there and someone else (like a spouse) closed the door without knowing they were in there, they did not have the remote with them.

    That would not solve the problem with the power out, but you would be in the garage and could then pull the emergency release cable to raise the door - provided the springs were tensioned properly to balance the door.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    New to me, thanks!

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    The 07 Chicago code does not specifically require a people door on a garage, that I can find. The closest applicable section I could find is 4(13-96-280).
    If this is a new garage it was built without a permit or not to permit. I work with a garage builder doing inspections and know that they cannot get a permit through DCAP without a people door. You can check the DCAP website for garage permit info and it should be listed there.
    IRC does not apply to Chicago. Any challenges you make have to be to Chicago code or such challenges will not have traction.
    Good luck

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Any challenges you make have to be to Chicago code or such challenges will not have traction.
    Markus,

    That would only apply to "code" challenges, not to "safety" or "common sense" challenges.

    Any builder not installing a second way out (which includes those safety features) can be challenged for creating an unsafe condition, whether or not it meets code. All codes, even the Chicago code, are "minimum standards" ... i.e. the crappiest they are legally allowed to build, *not* "good", "better", or "best" building practices.

    If DCAP (whatever that is) requires a people door, that is good. You could even have a people door within the overhead door (overhead doors with people doors in them are available - they are commercial doors, not residential doors, so they *cost more*). Installing an overhead door with a people door within it solves a lot of problems, such as 'there is only one wall which does not have something on the other side of it' (like in many townhouses or 'townhouse like condos').

    (I did a search on the internet and could not find one to link to, but I've seen them installed years ago.)

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    DCAP - Dept. of Construction and Permits
    Sorry for the slang Jerry, bad habit. I figured Michael would know what it meant.
    I've also seen the overhead doors with a people door within, not popular since they are expensive and not that attractive. Makes your house look like the odd ball of the neighborhood, especially with all the new construction house/garage facing the street and not the alley. Probably no alleys in Florida anyway.
    You are correct about the code, safety, challenge point. I guess a difference is the way I look at things. I look at many of these issues from the vantage point of being challenged and how it will play out, legally, financially, etc for the client. I try to anticipate as many worst case scenarios as possible with a given situation and 'head them off at the pass'. I guess the nature of much of my work has put me into that mindset. Many of my clients are attorneys and I'm married to one.
    Hey did you hear the perpetual joke that floats around Chicago?
    'What do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of Lake Michigan'?
    'A good start'.
    My wife hates that joke.
    Anyway, Michael the code is clear on the exit path required from a garage people door to a public way. If that is something you want, let me know.

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  8. #8
    Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I've seen many like those Richard linked to, they work great, attached garages with only the overhead door for access (typically used for golf carts on the houses I inspected).

    The ones I saw would allow you to re-insert the keyed lock mechanism (giving the cable to the emergency release device slack), then you could reset the emergency release lever to automatically engage when the door closed.

    That way, you could close the door from the outside and it would lock back into the opener traveler and lock the door closed.

    ....
    A lot of our "vaults" in the urban areas are at older houses (1910's on) with small, single, detached garages in the back yard. Many don't have power, many of those that do don't have an opener, and maybe one in a hundred is actually still used for parking a car. Most are now junk or tool sheds. My own used to be a vault but I have recently rebuilt the walls and "cottagized" it with salvaged door and windows (see photo). I do have an opener on the new main door as the wife parks her scooter in there, but it would be tight for a car, even for the Mini.

    In the "burbs", some of the "lower-rise", apartment/condo complexes have separate, detached banks of garages with one assigned to the unit. Those are usually "vaults" but, in those cases, they always have the emergency releases pre-installed. I just explain it and remind the client to get the key (probably often lost).

    On re-locking. With some of the screw drive openers, the traveller locks onto the screw anywhere along it's length. Those are the ones you see with micro-switch travel limiters at each end of the track rather than travel setting screws at the motor head. On those types, there is no way to reset the emergency release and still be able to close the door manually.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    You are correct about the code, safety, challenge point. I guess a difference is the way I look at things. I look at many of these issues from the vantage point of being challenged and how it will play out, legally, financially, etc for the client. I try to anticipate as many worst case scenarios as possible with a given situation and 'head them off at the pass'. I guess the nature of much of my work has put me into that mindset. Many of my clients are attorneys ...
    Markus,

    That's the way I thought too ... usually the 'worst case' ends with multiple deaths, the client, spouse, kids, etc., ... ... many times one trying to save the other trying to save the other trying to save ...

    That's why I came up with "code is the minimum crappiest one is legally allowed to build", after so many builders saying (even though it did not) "it meets code".

    I would respond with my "code is the minimum ... ", and then frequently add in "code is not something you get up in the morning and say to yourself that you will strive to meet code, code is the crappiest you are legally allowed to start at when you get up in the morning and start to work - you *strive* for doing better".

    Beyond code is where the "safety" and "other factors" (see below) come in. Once they have met "code", that's where what they represented to the buyer comes in:

    I ask the Builder: Is this house 'minimum standard housing'? (I'm standing in a $5 mil house and I know it is not.)

    Builder replies: OF COURSE NOT! WHAT DO YOU THINK I BUILD! This is a custom/luxury/quality/you-name-the-wording house - THAT IS ALL I build.

    Me: (turning to my client) This is a "custom" "quality" "luxury" house?

    Client: Yes. That is what the builder advertised it as and what we bought it as.

    Builder: (turning toward me after listening to the client state the above) See? I only build luxury homes.

    Me: (facing the builder) Good, then to make sure that we are all on the same page (now turning to my client) and being as "code" is the crappiest one is legally allowed to build, you don't want to hear the builder respond to any concerns by implying that something "is good enough" just because he thinks it meets the minimum crappiest standard, do you (turning to the builder to see their response)?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Speaking of garages does anybody remember the code required “suicide vents?” At least that's what we builders called them.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Speaking of garages does anybody remember the code required “suicide vents?” At least that's what we builders called them.
    .Yep.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    One yep, OK, why do you supose the code writers dropped that requirement? I mean, you find most gas fired appliances located within residential dwelling garages?

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Dunno.



    With each cycle of combining the various codes, it seemed that the weakest of each code being combined was what was acceptable to the "committees", and you know what "committees" do to things ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    My own used to be a vault but I have recently rebuilt the walls and "cottagized" it with salvaged door and windows (see photo).
    Richard,

    Great job!

    I thought my pop-up blocker malfunctioned and changed chanels to DIY-TV

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    I just inspected a garage with no man door, and I can't find anything saying that you have to have one. The one I inspected had a wood floor and a crawl space. I advised the client to not park a car in it until they had it checked out by a professional. These are not uncommon down here in southern Indiana.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Wood floor and crawlspace? Sounds like something out of 'Silence of the Lambs' or a DEA raid.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Wood floor and crawlspace in a garage? Sounds like someone may have done the opposite of what Richard did with his garage-to-cottage?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    In hilly building sites around the SF peninsula folks park their cars on top of wood framed and planked carports and garages. I used to write them up as a fire hazard due to having combustible (wood) floors. (IRC R309.3 - CBC same), which of course POd the RE agents no end. It seems the local AHJ overlooked this as it was a hot political potato, but I still persisted until the day I retired. What say others regarding this dilemma?

    Jerry McCarthy
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  19. #19
    Wayne Price's Avatar
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Here in Merced County, CA, we require a 36" man door out of a garage - either directly to the exterior or a 36"-wide path of travel through the house to the exterior.

    This is a code interpretation of CBC 1003.3 by our Building Official, and many other jurisdictions around us either don't see it that way or just ignore it. Personally, I think it's a great idea and I have no problem enforcing it.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    In hilly building sites around the SF peninsula folks park their cars on top of wood framed and planked carports and garages. I used to write them up as a fire hazard due to having combustible (wood) floors. (IRC R309.3 - CBC same), ...
    WC Jerry,

    I never saw one, but if I did, that would be a good reason to write up how dumb they are.

    To add to the fire to the fire, all spilled fluids would leak down through the joints in the wood, into the ground, when saturated sufficiently, that would be fuel for concern about fires (puns intended).

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  21. #21
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    Red face Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Markus Keller mentioned these "man doors in a vehicle door" down-thread, but before today I had never seen one, or known of a source for them: WalkThru Garage Doors.

    Michael Thomas
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Michael,

    I found this interesting:

    "
    Specialty Project - Porten Homes - Eton Square
    This project is located in Germantown, Maryland. The WalkThru Garage Doors are providing a secondary means of exit for all of the interior units, satisfying the requirements of the Building Officials and the Fire Marshal."

    One is not allowed to be required to egress through the garage as the garage is not part of the dwelling, it is a separate occupancy ('private garage') and therefore does not meet the requirements of an egress exit for a dwelling unit.

    The secondary egress is required to go to the outdoors, not to a garage.

    Interesting.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    In the International Residential Code a detached garage is not dealt really dealt with as it is an accessory building and is not habitable space. So a detached garage could have a wooden floor and no swinging man door. Whether there is an automatic opener or not you can always get out of the garage through the overhead and code wouldn't care if you have difficulty getting back in.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Milton Grew View Post
    So a detached garage could have a wooden floor
    A wood floor would not be allowed in a garage, whether attached or detached.

    (bold and underlining are mine)
    - R309.3 Floor surface. Garage floor surfaces shall be of approved noncombustible material.
    - The area of floor used for parking of automobiles or other vehicles shall be sloped to facilitate the movement of liquids to a drain or toward the main vehicle entry doorway.


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  25. #25
    Milton Grew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Thanks, Jerry, I stand corrected. However I have seen "existing" garages with wood floors which are permitted if they were allowed under whatever code they were built or they were built as just accessory storage structures and wound housing cars.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Had the counter ballace springs on my garage door break a couple of years ago. Because it was an oddball door they had to build replacement springs.
    Had to weigh the door and as I remember, it was well over 200 pounds, and that is why my wife's car was stuck in the garage one morning and I had to take her to work.

    Glad there was another way for her to get out.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Quote Originally Posted by Milton Grew View Post
    Thanks, Jerry, I stand corrected. However I have seen "existing" garages with wood floors which are permitted if they were allowed under whatever code they were built or they were built as just accessory storage structures and wound housing cars.
    Milton,

    I suppose ... that if the garage started out being for a horse and carriage and had dirt floors (which the first ones had), and then wood floors were added to newer garages so the people in the carriages would not be standing in mud entering and exiting the carriages, that would not have been a problem.

    I suppose ... that after a few of those new fangled things called horseless carriages starting being parked in those garages, and they leaked oil and gasoline as I am sure they did, that a few wood floored garages and their contents went up is fire and smoke.

    At which time someone may have said 'Guess we'd better stop putting combustible floors in garages."

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Detached garage with no man door.

    Good Evening to you all. In my jurisdiction, any building that may be occupied for any reason shall have a "Man Door". The door may swing
    in or out for small occupancies, like your detached garage.
    I wish you the best.

    Kent (Homexaman) Hendrickson, Owner
    Hendricksonhouse LLC
    Inspections, Investigations and Consultations

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