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Scuttle opening size


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R807.1 Attic access.

Buildings with combustible ceiling or roof construction shall have an attic access opening to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet (2.8 m2) and have a vertical height of 30 inches (762 mm) or more. The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches (559 mm by 762 mm) and shall be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location. A 30-inch (762mm) minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be provided at some point above the access opening. See Section M1305.1.3 for access requirements where mechanical equipment is located in attics.

This is per the 06' IRC.

Marc

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What say you. I inspected a new contruction home. HE furnace located in the attic. The scuttle opening measured 23.5" x 21.5". Seems small to me.

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I would say "The attic access opening is X x X. Opening is too small to easily access the attic, especially because there is mechanical equipment in the attic that needs to be regularly serviced (and replaced in the future). I recommend that a larger access opening be provided."

You found the problem, tell them why it is an issue, and recommend what to do about it.

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Thanks Steven. I did just that. Here is what I stated;

"In my opinion, the attic scuttle is not the correct size. Because the furnace is located in the attic cavity, the opening/scuttle, needs to be large enough to allow for removal of the equipment should something go wrong. By my measurements, the scuttle is 23.5" x 21.5" in size.

Quote: R807.1 Attic access. (2006 IRC)

Buildings with combustible ceiling or roof construction shall have an attic access opening to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet (2.8 m2) and have a vertical height of 30 inches (762 mm) or more. The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches (559 mm by 762 mm) and shall be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location. A 30-inch (762mm) minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be provided at some point above the access opening. See Section M1305.1.3 for access requirements where mechanical equipment is located in attic."

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Why not? Code books are respected. It's a good way to back up what we're reporting.

Marc

Mostly because I may not know exactly what codes were enforced and how they were interpreted when a house was built, but good building practice is timeless.

If needed, I can defend my opinions and building codes are part of my arsenal.

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There's the issue of report creep. It takes an extremely small concern and inflates it with a bunch of language no one but us cares about. It's a silly attic hatch fer chrissakes.

Say it's too small; getting in and out is too hard for service people, let alone when the equipment has to be replaced.

If someone is pea brained enough to quibble with me on something like an attic scuttle, maybe then I'd pull out the code. Until then, I've found folks really appreciate common sense.

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There's the issue of report creep. It takes an extremely small concern and inflates it with a bunch of language no one but us cares about. It's a silly attic hatch fer chrissakes.

Say it's too small; getting in and out is too hard for service people, let alone when the equipment has to be replaced.

If someone is pea brained enough to quibble with me on something like an attic scuttle, maybe then I'd pull out the code. Until then, I've found folks really appreciate common sense.

True, but if our client is the buyer, the seller is going to argue every ambiguity.

I try to keep that in mind and leave a decent amount of ammo for the client to use.

Marc

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This is a new home.

There's no better time to get it corrected than right now and at the same time you are taking the opportunity to educate the builder or site super on something that might not have been on his/her radar.

The residential code requires a "rough opening" size of not less than 22 inches by 30 inches for an ordinary attic access opening, which means the finished hatch - assuming 1/2-inch drywall - would be 21 inches by 29 inches, which is still longer than what you've described. However, your attic contains HVAC equipment and that means the mechanical code applies - not the residential code.

The mechanical code requirement is that the passageway to the opening must be large enough to bring the equipment through if it requires replacement and there needs to be sufficient headroom above the opening to be able to tip the equipment up and angle it through the opening. Then the finished access opening needs to be not less than 20-inches by 30-inches or at least large enough to remove the largest piece of equipment.

I'd simply write something like:

The last time I looked at the mechanical code for HVAC equipment installed in an attic, the code stated that the finished access opening had to be a minimum of 20-inches wide by 30-inches long and at least large enough to accommodate removal of the largest piece of HVAC equipment installed in the attic.

The finished access opening to the attic in this house measures 21-1/2 inches by 23-1/2 inches, which is obviously smaller than the smallest opening allowed. I recommend you bring this to the builder's attention now. Ask the builder to have someone measure the equipment installed in the attic, to determine what is the smallest hatch size that can be used, and then have the opening modified to meet that requirement while not being smaller than the minimum finished size of 20-inches by 30-inches that's required.

That tosses it back in the builder's lap without a specific code cite. If the builder has a thimble full of brains he/she will look it up or call the local code guy, who will look it up, and they'll arrive at the truth and make corrections as needed.

Maybe I'd get a phone call from the client complaining that I was wrong, that the builder showed him the latest version of the code and it allowed a smaller opening - or maybe he'd state that the builder checked with the local code guy and the local code guy confirmed that the smaller opening was fine.

In a case like that I'd remind the client that I am not a code guy and that I didn't base my remarks on the latest version of the code as held in my hand. I'd tell him/her to personally double-check with the local code person to ensure that the builder has the facts straight and at that point I'd wash my hands of the issue and let the client work it out, or not, with the builder.

No report creep involved. Simple statement of the truth as I saw it and let the chips fall where they may. If the builder gets obstinate advise the client to double-check with the local code official. If I do less and it gets ignored, and five years from now the furnace goes toes up and can't be removed from the attic without major costly modifications, it won't be the builder that gets blamed - it'll be me for not pointing it out when it could have been easily fixed prior to the client taking possession of the home.

FWIW

A few years ago I squeezed through an access opening that was 14-3/4 by 14-3/4 inches and about 17-1/2 inches on the diagonal. Anyone that's ever met me in person is saying to himself right now, "No friggin' way O'Handley; you're lying through your teeth," but I assure you it's true. The agent yelled up to me, "Mike, are you going to be able to get out of there?" I yelled back, "Don't think so. How about calling my wife and have her stop by about twice a week to bring me some sandwiches and switch out the slop bucket."

I got out easier than I got in. Pretty sure I couldn't do that today. The "large" jacket I put on the other day felt like it was designed for a midget. I think it's time I started working on my weight again.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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What say you. I inspected a new contruction home. HE furnace located in the attic. The scuttle opening measured 23.5" x 21.5". Seems small to me.

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Just quote common sense. "The attic access opening is not large enough to remove and replace the air handler that is located in the attic. If the attic access opening is not enlarged by the builder before you buy the home then it will be your responsibility to enlarge the opening when replacement of the air handler is needed."

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Why not? Code books are respected. It's a good way to back up what we're reporting.

Marc

I constantly use codes as a guide, but I seldom quote code. You expose yourself to liability for not finding everything that is not up to code.

I often use the phrase "does not comply with typical standards".

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You expose yourself to liability for not finding everything that is not up to code.

Why is this myth perpetuated? I've never seen anyone produce a case where an inspector was sued for missing one code issue because they chose to reference the building code as the source for their opinion on a different code issue. If it's happened I'd love to hear about it.

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I use code cites often. Did so in today's report but I make it clear in the Introduction page, ala Katen, that I'm not a code inspector. If they have questions about compliance, call the local code authority 'cause I dunno nuttin' about compliance.

Marc

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Why is this myth perpetuated? I've never seen anyone produce a case where an inspector was sued for missing one code issue because they chose to reference the building code as the source for their opinion on a different code issue. If it's happened I'd love to hear about it.

It just won't die.

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Why not? Code books are respected. It's a good way to back up what we're reporting.

Marc

I constantly use codes as a guide, but I seldom quote code. You expose yourself to liability for not finding everything that is not up to code.

I often use the phrase "does not comply with typical standards".

Then you expose yourself to liability for not finding everything that does not comply with "typical standards". . .

Despite what home inspectors talk themselves into believing, we get sued when we miss stuff or when we mitigate our findings to sooth the realtors.

Finding honest to goodness problems and backing them up with references helps to prevent suits, not cause them.

That said, I'm not in favor of including quotations from codes in my reports, mostly because they're mind-numbingly boring to read and because they often lose meaning and clarity when taken out of context.

My personal approach is to explain that I think such and such is wrong for such and such reason. I then include a footnote referencing the source of my opinion. That source is often a code number. If someone cares, he can look it up or call me for the actual text. If someone wants to offer an alternative opinion, I invite him to offer the source for his opinion. Mostly, he can't do better than, "Because I say so."

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"That said, I'm not in favor of including quotations from codes in my reports, mostly because they're mind-numbingly boring to read and because they often lose meaning and clarity when taken out of context."

Exactly. I find it confuses people. They glaze over. Tell them why it doesn't work in practical examples, they get it. Explain it with X's and O's, they curl up in a fetal position. Not everyone, but most.

For the mope that insists on arguing, use the code reference. One of the great joys of this job is deflating argumentative moron builders with a code reference. The joy is hugely enhanced by allowing them to argue and display their ignorane. Drop the reference on them after being reasonable and practical, you become one with The Gods.

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