Must have Two stairs?

vancleaveterryOctober 5, 2007

Hello.... I am designing a four car garage with an apartment above. A friend criticized my plan because it had only one stairway... an interior one. Specifically, she felt the second story deck should also have a stairway.

The deck will be in the backyard, completely hidden from view from the road. A stair up to the deck would lead to an easily defeated French door.

Most two-story homes I visit have only one stairway. Having a roll-out emergency chain ladder stored on the deck makes sense to me, but I am leary of an exterior stair.

The site is out in a rural area with few codes.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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The number of exits is usually determined by a town or county building or fire code. Sometimes there is a state fire code enforced by a state fire marshall. Check anything you do with the local fire department. All codes that I have used require two exits from a rental apartment. An internal stair in a home can serve as the only exit as long as the bedrooms have windows sized for emergency escape. Usually the ceiling of the garage and any supporting walls must be covered with fire rated drywall and there can be no door from the garage opening directly into a bedroom.

Even if there is no building code I would advise against ignoring such well established life safety standards.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 8:39AM
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I have a follow-up question. I live in Monrovia, California, My house is officially one story, but it has a finished attic with a bathroom. They city says I may not rent the attic space as a bedroom, because of low ceiling heights. Fine.

But they also say I have to have an exterior staircase, in addition to the interior staircase that already serves the attic. But in the same breath, their code says that if the attic were an actual granny suite, an exterior staircase would be prohibited. Their code's exact words: "Exterior stairs leading to a second unit located on the second level of a primary unit shall be prohibited." Dies it make sense that if I have people living up there, I cannot give them a second staircase, but if I just have storage up there, I must have an egress?

I can't find anything written that says a one story house with a finished attic must have an exterior staircase in addition to the interior one. Heck, most attics have ladders, not full staircases. An exterior staircase would be prohibited if the attic were a granny suite. There is nothing at all about stairs in the rest of the document.

So why on earth should I believe the city when they say I have to tear down this old decrepit exterior stairway and build a new one, after getting zoning approval?

Does it sound like I am required to rebuild the old stairway, or do you think I might be able to demolish it after sealing the attic door to which it leads?

Thanks for your opinion, or better yet, knowledge. Anyone out there live in a two story home with no exterior staircase? (I should add that there are four doors to the outside on the main floor of the house. Four!)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 1:14AM
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I would incorporate a stairway in the garage for the apartment above. My sis in law did it and it was a neat idea.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 4:41PM
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