Are Egress and Escape openings required in a garage, barn, accessory structure or addition?

September 7 / Stacey / Comments (0)

Egress is the provision for a person to escape safely from a building. There are tons of products stored in garages, barns and additions. Paint, solvents, lumber, plastics, gasoline, oil, cleaners, heaters, and electricity are all hazardous in the right situation. Most garages store some or all of the above on a daily basis. Not all garages have windows. Most garage doors are operated electrically. And many accessory buildings have second floors, whether created by attic trusses or true wooden floors. In the event of fire, the garage doors may malfunction, making it impossible to lift them. If there are no windows or windows that are large enough to fit through, only the entry door would be an escape from the building.

Garages, apartments or accessory structures that have collar ties above 6’11” must have at least one egress window. A collar tie is the interior ceiling height of a room. Rooms that have ceiling heights of 7’ or higher are considered to be full 2-story buildings. Second floor habitable spaces, regardless of use have additional code requirements for fire safety. Two story garages are required to have an egress opening of at least 5.7sf per code.

An egress window has a glass area that is at least 5.7sq feet or larger. This is large enough for a fire-fighter with full gear to pass through. Means of egress provides a continuous and unobstructed path of vertical and horizontal travel from all portions of the dwelling to the exterior of the dwelling, without traveling through a garage. Exterior entry doors therefore, do not satisfy the egress requirement by themselves. That is where the need for windows comes into play.

Also, there are code requirements for floors and landings that need to be complied with to provide an unobstructed path. For instance, all floors and landings, whether a garage, addition or home must have a landing or floor on both sides of any doorway. The landing or floor on the exterior side – an exterior landing – shall not be more than 7 ¾” below the top of the threshold of that door, provided the door does not swing over the landing or door. This is an attempt to prevent entrapment due to overhead or blockage from conflicting planes. It also helps to prevent tripping and falling.

Call an expert Contractor before building. Call HW Enterprises, Inc. at 757-595-4562 office or 757-696-1927 cell or visit and we will help you build a safe and quality garage, barn, apartment, addition or shell home.

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