Does an attached garage that is only used for storage or as a workshop, and not for parking a car, still have to comply with building code requirements for a garage?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The building code requirements for a garage, and an attached garage in particular, have evolved over the years based on the risk of fire from the flammable fuel in a car’s gas tank, and the possibility of a fire in an attached garage quickly spreading into the adjacent residence. The 1936 edition of the North Carolina Building Code defined a garage this way: "Garage" means a building, shed or enclosure, or a part thereof, in which a motor vehicle containing volatile inflammable oil in its fuel storage tank is stored, housed or kept.

     A private garage (as opposed to public one) is defined today by the 2018 edition of the International Buidling Code (IBC) as: A building or portion of a building in which motor vehicles used by the owner or tenant of the building or buildings on the premises are stored or kept, without provisions for repairing or servicing such vehicles for profit.

    Could you argue with a building inspector that it’s not really a garage, just a big storage room? Possibly, but if it has a garage door and a driveway up to the door, it’s clearly designed for storage of a motor vehicle and could be used for that purpose in the future; so your argument would not be persuasive. Even a small garage door to a room for parking a golf cart cart indoors is a garage. If It walks like a duck...

    Also, see our blog posts What are the common problems when a homeowner converts a garage to conditioned living space, such as a family room? and What are the code requirements for fire separation between an attached garage and the house? and Why are there score line grooves in the concrete floor of the garage?

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about STRUCTURE AND ROOMS:

Why is the grout cracking and coming loose at my floor tile?

What are the building code requirements for notching and boring holes in a wall stud? 

What causes dark or light "ghost" lines on ceilings and walls?

Can you access or exit a bedroom through another bedroom?

What is the difference between a carport and a garage? 

What are simple ways to find the cause of a ceiling stain?

What is the minimum size of habitable rooms in a house according to the building code? 

Why is my garage ceiling sagging? 

How can I identify what kind of wood flooring I am looking at?

Why does my concrete floor slab sweat and get slippery?

What is the minimum ceiling height for rooms in a house? 

How much can I cut out of a floor joist? 

How can I tell if my floors are sloping?

Why do the floors slope in this old house?  

• How can I tell if a wall is load-bearing? Which walls can I take out? 

      Visit our STRUCTURE AND ROOMS 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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