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.

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  To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:

Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses?

Are H-clips required by the building code for roof sheathing?

Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt shingle roof? 

What are the mistakes to avoid when doing attic improvements?

What causes roof shingles to curl up at corners?  

What causes shingles to buckle along a line on the roof?

What causes leaks at a fake roof dormer? 

What causes a sagging roof ridge line?

What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?  

Why does it cost so much more to replace a steep roof than a low slope roof? 

What is "ponding" on a flat roof?

Is an attic required to have a light by the building code? 

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Why is premature curl of roof shingles a problem?

How can I tell if a roof has more than one layer of shingles? 

What are the common problems with attic insulation? 

What is the life expectancy of an asbestos cement shingle roof? 

What's the average lifespan of a roof?

Why is it a mistake to replace a roof and not replace its flashings? 

Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer?

What can I do to prevent roof leaks?

Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick framing)? 

Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?

What are the most common problems with wood roof trusses?

What causes a lump or dip in the roof? 

If my roof is not leaking, why does it need to be replaced?

Is a ridge board/beam required for a roof framed with rafters?  

Does it cost more to roof a hip roof than a gable roof? 

How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?

How many layers of roofing are allowed on a home? 

What are the dark lines running parallel to shingles on my roof?

Can metal roofing be used on a low slope/pitch roof? 

How can I make my roof last longer?  

What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?

How can I find out the age of a roof? 

Should I buy a house that needs a new roof?

Should I buy a house with an old roof? 

What are those metal boxes on the roof?

What is roof flashing? 

What does "lack of tab adhesion" in an asphalt shingle roof mean?

Why do roof edges start leaking?

Why do my dormer windows leak? 

Do home inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

Should I put gutters on the house? 

What's the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

How much of a roof truss can I cut out to make a storage platform in the attic? 

What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof? 

What is an EPDM roof?

 I'm buying a '50s modern house with a "gravel" roof. Is the roof going to be a problem?

What does a home inspector look for when examining a roof? 

Do stains on the ceiling mean the roof is leaking?

How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?  

 Why does my homeowner's insurance want a roof inspection?

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

• What is a roof certification letter/report?

     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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