November 6, 2007
DOOR WIDTHS IN ONE- AND TWO-FAMILY DWELLINGS
By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst
You want to know the standards for door widths in new one- and two-family dwellings in Connecticut, who set them, and who enforces them. You also want to know what the standards are in other states.
At least one designated exit door in new one- and two-family dwellings must be at least three feet wide and six feet eight inches high. The standard is outlined in the International Residential Code (IRC), which Connecticut has adopted by reference as part of the State Building Code. The building code does not prescribe widths for other doors within such dwellings.
The State Building Inspector's Office and the Codes and Standards Committee are responsible for implementing the State Building Code. Local building officials are responsible for enforcing the code, including the provisions governing door widths in one- and two-family dwellings.
States that have adopted the IRC will normally have the same standards for door widths as Connecticut has, unless they have amended or deleted IRC provisions to accommodate their specific circumstances. The International Code Council (ICC), which publishes the IRC, reports that 45 states and Washington D.C. have adopted the code (www.iccsafe.org/ government/adoption.html). These include the neighboring states of Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. We do not know if any of these states have adopted, amended, or deleted the IRC door width provisions for one- and two-family dwellings.
DOOR WIDTHS IN NEW ONE- AND TWO-FAMILY DWELLINGS
State law requires the state building inspector and the Codes and Standards Committee to adopt and administer a state building code, based on a national model building code, to regulate the design, construction, and use of buildings or structures (CGS § 29-252).
The current state building code includes the 2003 IBC; the 2003 IRC; the 2003 International Existing Building Code; Connecticut revisions to the IBC and IRC; as well as plumbing, mechanical, electrical, and energy conservation codes. The model codes are published by the ICC for adoption by state and local governments. They are prepared with the collaboration of engineers, architects, builders, material producers, and trade association members. They regulate “measured performance,” rather than specific material or construction methods, and are intended to permit easy and timely incorporation of material and methods that meet accepted standards.
The current IRC requires that one- and two-family dwellings have at least one designated exit door at least three feet wide and six feet eight inches high. The requirement applies to new dwellings for which a permit was applied for on or after September 1, 2004, when the current code took effect. The code does not prescribe door width standards for other doors within such dwellings.
According to the code:
Not less than one exit door conforming to this section shall be provided for each dwelling unit. The required exit door shall provide for direct access from the habitable portions of the dwelling to the exterior without requiring travel through a garage (IRC R311.4, 2003 IRC Portion of the 2005 State Building Code).
The required exit door shall be a side-hinged door not less than 3 feet in width and 6 feet, 8 inches in height. Other doors shall be permitted to be side-hinged, swinging, sliding, bi-fold or revolving doors, shall not be required to comply with the minimum door width and shall be permitted to be not less than 6 feet, 6 inches in height (IRC R 311.4.2, 2003 IRC Portion of the 2005 State Building Code).
ENFORCEMENT OF CODE STANDARDS
Local building officials are responsible for administering and enforcing the State Building Code (CGS § 29-260). They must require compliance with the code and all pertinent rules and regulations (CGS § 29-261). This includes overseeing (1) building construction, alteration, repair, removal, and demolition and (2) building location, use, occupancy, and maintenance.