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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    california
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    65

    Default condo attic concerns

    Attic entrance located in laundry room ceiling revealed that attic trusses did not have drywall
    separation but rather were "open " from one unit to the next all the way to the last unit exterior wall.
    It was my understanding that each unit needed a firewall separation and from a legal position to define each unit as a separate unit and for safety as a person in an adjacent unit could move from one unit to the next unit thru the attic area
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    4,170

    Default Re: condo attic concerns

    I can't comment on Legal requirements, but building code wise,

    depending on the code, type of construction, and occupancy type at the

    time of construction a fire wall would be required in some situations.


    But security is not an area addressed by this part of the code to my knowledge.

    Most situations where drywall is installed where security is an issue have so

    many holes in later years it resembles swiss cheese more than a firewall.

    The ability to make a man sized hole with bare hands and little noise in a

    concealed area makes any security benefit pretty much a moot point.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,252

    Default Re: condo attic concerns

    It depends.

    First, we must remember that a condo building (the entire building, not each condo unit) is one single structure/building.

    Then, as Jim said, it depends on the code in effect when the building was constructed ... as well as other things as shown in the code below.

    From the 2012 IBC: (underlining is mine)
    - 718.4 Draftstopping in attics.
    - - In combustible construction, draftstopping shall be installed to subdivide attic spaces and concealed roof spaces in the locations prescribed in Sections 718.4.2 and 718.4.3. Ventilation of concealed roof spaces shall be maintained in accordance with Section 1203.2.
    - - 718.4.1 Draftstopping materials.
    - - - Materials utilized for draftstopping of attic spaces shall comply with Section 718.3.1.
    - - - 718.4.1.1 Openings.
    - - - - Openings in the partitions shall be protected by self-closing doors with automatic latches constructed as required for the partitions.
    - - 718.4.2 Groups R-1 and R-2.
    - - - Draftstopping shall be provided in attics, mansards, overhangs or other concealed roof spaces of Group R-2 buildings with three or more dwelling units and in all Group R-1 buildings. Draftstopping shall be installed above, and in line with, sleeping unit and dwelling unit separation walls that do not extend to the underside of the roof sheathing above.
    - - - - Exceptions:
    - - - - - 1. Where corridor walls provide a sleeping unit or dwelling unit separation, draftstopping shall only be required above one of the corridor walls.
    - - - - - 2. Draftstopping is not required in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1.
    - - - - - 3. In occupancies in Group R-2 that do not exceed four stories above grade plane, the attic space shall be subdivided by draftstops into areas not exceeding 3,000 square feet (279 m2) or above every two dwelling units, whichever is smaller.
    - - - - - 4. Draftstopping is not required in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.3.1.2, provided that automatic sprinklers are also installed in the combustible concealed space where the draftstopping is being omitted.
    - - 718.4.3 Other groups.
    - - - Draftstopping shall be installed in attics and concealed roof spaces, such that any horizontal area does not exceed 3,000 square feet (279 m2).
    - - - - Exception: Draftstopping is not required in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1.

    Section 718.4.2 Exception 1 is sometimes misapplied where a corridor separates the units on one side of a building from the units on the other side of the building (the corridor is down the center) but ... then they have the units on each side of the corridor not separated by corridors ... all the units need to be separated by a corridor with draftstop walls above the corridor walls or Exception 1 does not apply.

    Exception 3 is common for typical low-rise buildings.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Windsor Ontario
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: condo attic concerns

    Regardless of code and the many variables - I believe that a "fire separation" should be installed at the common line (trusses) between each unit. Furthermore although gypsum board may be easily broken, at least it provides a visible barrier to separate the attic spaces for provision of at least a minimal security separation.

    As note - codes and enforcement can vary. But this is a common issue that I have also experienced when inspecting properties with multiple attached dwelling units such as townhouses, etc.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,252

    Default Re: condo attic concerns

    Townhouses require full fire-rated wall separation to the underside or through the roof sheathing as they are each separate buildings (albeit that they are attached).

    Condos may not ... based on all those variables.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    MONTREAL QUEBEC-CANADA
    Posts
    1,842

    Default Re: condo attic concerns

    Claude, you are in Ontario.
    Try this and shed some liability.
    Ask clients to get the information from the association.

    Condominium corporation is an owner under fire code.
    http://www.acmo.org/wp-content/uploads/CMMagazineArchives/2002/CMwinter2002/winter02d.pdf


    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,252

    Default Re: condo attic concerns

    In Florida, and condominium laws vary from state to state, the condo association is the owner of the building ... owner of the unit only owns their designated space inside the building.

    The building includes not only all common areas, the building also includes all parts of the structure, foundation, walls, floors, roof, etc, and, being as fire alarms are intended to be interconnected throughout the building, access to each fire alarm is required to be provided by the owner(s).

    That means that the condo association owner (of the building) schedules the access (for testing) and notifies all owners (of the units) that the fire alarm system is going to be inspected on such and such date, starting at such and such time.

    I have, as the AHJ inspector, accompanied the local Fire Marshal on many of those inspections, we went around with the representative company which monitors and maintains the fire alarm systems and test all (a large sample, not "all") of the smoke alarms.

    It is a noisy pain for the residents of the condos, but is only done once per year.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    MONTREAL QUEBEC-CANADA
    Posts
    1,842

    Default Re: condo attic concerns

    Jerry,
    I am sure that is the same is true in most provinces.

    Claude, even if the ceiling was vaulted there will be no fire break.

    From what I understand having performed condo association inspections, I read up on the laws pertaining to condo ownership, shared area's and the owner, the association is responsible.

    I am ure as in Jerry's state all is eqiul more or less in your province.
    Hope that help.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

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