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  1. #1
    archivoyeur's Avatar
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    Default Attached garage floor level

    Here is one I really should know, but try as I might I have not found a code reference for this. I know you guys know it. (and by "you guys" of course I mean "Jerry").

    My client would like few or no steps at the garage / house transition. Builder states garage is required to be a certain depth below residence first floor. (kinda makes sense) I've never had this request before. Can't find a reference in NYSBC. Is this a Life Safety issue?
    Any body?

    Thanks,
    tc

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  2. #2
    Terry W. Godwin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Contact your local building inspectors office. The client could want it for Handicapped accessibility.


  3. #3
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Quote Originally Posted by archivoyeur View Post
    My client would like few or no steps at the garage / house transition. Builder states garage is required to be a certain depth below residence first floor. (kinda makes sense) I've never had this request before. Can't find a reference in NYSBC. Is this a Life Safety issue?
    Archi...,

    To my knowledge there is no requirement for the living space to be raised up, however, if not raised up higher than the garage floor you are creating all kinds of problems, the floor level above adjacent grade, potential flooding issues, ignition source issues, carbon monoxide issues, etc.

    All odors, vapors, gases, etc., would seep around the garage/house door and seep into the living space.

    There are many other issues which could rear their ugly heads than just the ones I mentioned above.

    At the very least what I would recommend making the garage an additional 3 feet to 4 feet wider and possibly even 3 feet longer to allow for a passage around the car(s) to a ramp built along one side of the garage - of course there would need to not only be a step up into the house, but a raised floor into the garage wide enough to serve as a walkway to the house door in front of the vehicles.

    About 20 years ago of so I inspected some homes where the builder constructed them with the living space floor level with the garage floor, and there was no code provision not allowing that. This was in Boca Raton, Florida, and I talked to the city about it - they said to show them a code reference prohibiting it and they would prohibit it as they did not like it but then only enforce minimum code. I found several reference about some of the issues I mentioned above (not wall are code issues, some are common sense issues and builders without common sense usually end up broke - as did this builder), one reference was the height of the floor above grade, or more aptly put 'above floor elevation' and those floors where not. Long story short and there was a lot of headaches created by my inspections, I never did find out how it ended as the builder let all my clients out of their contracts and (to my knowledge) none of them bought there - so I don't know if the city made them fix it, or let those existing ones go and just did not allow others to be built that way.

    To NOT have a standard 7" higher living space (higher than the garage) is just not common sense and is asking for all kinds of issues to poke their ugly heads out of the ground and in under and around that door, contaminating the air in the living space, not to mention height above (lack thereof) adjacent grade, flooding likely to happen into the living space, etc.

    Did I say "Don't do it."? Oh, okay, I already said that - sorry.

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  4. #4
    archivoyeur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Thanks Jerry,

    I had a similar thought process, vapors, water, critters, dirt, the same reasons we raise the house off the ground. We have codes for that, I was surprised not to find the garage level requirements too.
    tc


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    As long as the garage is sloped there is not any code prohibiting the garage floor from being level with the living area of the structure.


  6. #6
    Ed Snedaker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    tc,

    I'm certainly not a code expert, but I think it depends on what room it enters. It is OK if it enters common areas, but is never allowed to enter a bedroom without a step up.

    Ed


  7. #7
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Snedaker View Post
    tc,

    I'm certainly not a code expert, but I think it depends on what room it enters. It is OK if it enters common areas, but is never allowed to enter a bedroom without a step up.

    Ed

    Ed,

    Do you have a code for that?

    The code I am aware of states *there shall not be an entry from a garage directly into a bedroom*, and it does not give exceptions for step ups or anything. You simply do not want that stuff seeping around a door into a room where a person is intentionally going to be sleeping - they may never awake from that sleep.

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  8. #8
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Quote Originally Posted by archivoyeur View Post
    I was surprised not to find the garage level requirements too.

    TC,

    Yep, that same thing has bugged me for a very long time, with the answer always being "codes are minimums, not common sense".

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  9. #9
    Ed Snedaker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Jerry,

    That question came up in an inspection I did 10 years ago. I did find a code reference at the time, but don't recall where. I'll see if I can find it tonight.

    Ed


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    The IRC states:
    R309.1 Opening protection.
    Openings from a private garage
    directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted.
    Other openings between the garage and residence shall
    be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1
    3/8 inches (35
    mm) in thickness, solid or honeycomb core steel doors not less
    than 1
    3/8 inches (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.




  11. #11
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    I'd be very interested if you can find such a code Ed?

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    With all these safety recommendations for attached garage floor levels, etc., what safety features are integrated into a built-in garage with a living/sleeping space above? I have never run into this yet, but would like to know how to respond to this concern from a potential client.


  13. #13
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry O'Connor View Post
    With all these safety recommendations for attached garage floor levels, etc., what safety features are integrated into a built-in garage with a living/sleeping space above? I have never run into this yet, but would like to know how to respond to this concern from a potential client.
    5/8 Type X drywall on the ceiling and 1/2 drywall covering all supporting structures.

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    The old BOCA codes (and, I believe, the old CABO 1 and 2 Family Code) used to require a 4" sill between the garage and the house. I believe that was eliminated when they went to the ICC family of codes. It used to be part of the Opening Protection section of the code. Here's the text from an old Massachusetts code, which was pretty much word-for-word from CABO:

    Opening protection: Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted. Other openings between the garage and dwelling shall be equipped with either solid wood doors not less than 1 inch(45 mm) in thickness or 20-minute fire-rated doors. Self closing devices and fire resistive rated door frames are not required. All door openings between the garage and the dwelling shall be provided with a raised sill with a minimum height of four inches.



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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Just to follow-up, it is common practice in my area to simply place the garage floor at a level at least 4" below the main house living level, to provide the 4" sill. It's usually not a problem, because the house floor is wood-framed, over a full cellar and the garage is slab-on-grade. It's probably a pain-in-the-ass detail in areas where the house is also slab-on-grade.

    It can be an issue around here when there is a stairway down to the cellar directly form the garage. Builders end up placing a landing at the top of the stairs, to provide the rasied sill, so you step up to the landing, and then down the stairs.

    I'm not sure how necessary the raised sill is. ICC apparently didn't think it was important enough to keep in the code.


  16. #16
    archivoyeur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Frederickson View Post
    ... It's probably a pain-in-the-ass detail in areas where the house is also slab-on-grade.
    Bingo - we're going s.o.g. Thanks for all the input. I'll let you know if anything interesting comes of this.
    tc


  17. #17
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Attached garage floor level

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Frederickson View Post
    It's probably a pain-in-the-ass detail in areas where the house is also slab-on-grade.
    Quote Originally Posted by archivoyeur View Post
    Bingo - we're going s.o.g. Thanks for all the input. I'll let you know if anything interesting comes of this.
    tc
    Can't be much of a pain in the arse as that is about all they build all over Florida, and with a 7-1/4 riser (2x8) height difference.

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