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What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Florida Building Code (FBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) both require a minimum of one attic access opening for homes with combustible (such as wood) roof construction if the attic space meets these two criteria:

  1. Attic area exceeds 30 square feet, and
  2. Minimum vertical height of 30 inches, measured from the top of the ceiling framing members to the bottom of the roof framing members.

    If the attic space is smaller than these specs, then an access hatch is not required. The access opening should be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location and minimum 22” x 30”. Here’s the full text of the code:

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 greater. The vertical height shall be measured from the top of the ceiling framing members to the underside of the roof framing members.

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. When located in a wall, the opening shall be a minimum of 22 inches wide by 30 inches high. When the access is located in a ceiling, minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be 30 inches (762 mm) at some point above the access measured vertically from the bottom of ceiling framing members. See Section M1305.1.3 for access requirements where mechanical equipment is located in attics. 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •  

  To learn more about attic access, click on the links to these other blog posts:

Where is the attic?

Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

Why are most pull-down attic ladders not approved by building code for installation in a garage?  

 Is a house required to have an attic?

Should I buy a house with no attic access hatch? 

Does the code require a barrier/well around the attic access hatch for blown insulation?

• When is a house not required to have an attic access hatch? 

Does a mobile home have an attic? 

What is the minimum size for attic access opening?

• When does code require an attic pull-down ladder to be installed? 

 Are attic pull-down ladders required to be code-approved?

Can the attic access opening be outside the house according to the building code?

• Where should attic access be placed by code? 

What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

     Visit our ROOF AND ATTIC page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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