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» ICC Bulletin Board » Code Chat » Building and Residential Codes -- Non-Structural Issues » Openings in exterior walls

   
Author Topic: Openings in exterior walls
rhAArch
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I am currently designing a 5 story mixed use building type IIA. The building is adjacent to another building to the south with 0"-0" separation. My reading of the code allows me to place openings in the separation wall above the roof of the 2 story building to the south. 503.2 defines a party wall in accordance with 705. 705.6.1 Stepped buildings terminates the party wal at 30" above the roof which allows me to place openings above that height. The building official (new to the game) is stuck on section 503.2 wich does not allow openings in a party wall. I argue that the party wall only accounts for the portion between buildings and below the 30" mark above the lower roof. Whats are your thoughts? The opening will comply with all other sections of the code.

Thanks

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Tom D
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rh,
I assume from your post that the buildings are 2-separate buildings with property line between. In that case you would refer to Table 602 for fire separation based on fire separation distance. footnote c refers to section 503.2 for party walls. Section 503.2 allows no openings.
Section 705.1 refers to 503.2 as well for party walls on property line and allows no openings.

I believe section 705.6.1 could apply to building without property lines where the fire wall is used to separte portions of the same building.

Hope this helps
Tom D

[ 12-21-2005, 03:11 PM: Message edited by: Tom D ]

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rhAArch
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Tom,
Yes these are two seperate buildings. I have reviewed what you suggested and aggree completely. The code clearly defines the portion of the wall seperating the buildings as a party wall without openings. However, my position is that section 503.2 clearly defines a wall on property lines as a fire wall in accordance with section 705. Section 705.6.1 is the portion of the code that defines the height of the fire wall to 30" above the lower roof. The code does not exclude party walls from this definition. I still believe that the if a full reading of section 705 allows for openings above the roof of the adjacent building.

I cant find anything in the code that excludes me from using 705.6.1 for this case.

Rob H

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Builder bob
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I beleive that IBC Table 704.8 would not allow openings on the walls that are located on the zero lot line. IF This was two buildings on the same lot, then IBC section 704.10 could be used to allow openings in the taller building. Otherwise, the Lot Line is a vertical imaginary plane that each building has to meet the requirements of IBC Table 704.8 and/or IBC TAble 602 for fire seperation distance.

(IMHO the opening should not be allowed on the zero lot line due to fire exposure from a fire self venting thru openings and dropping debris on the lower building.)

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keeferrk
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What type of opening, window or door?
I think a fire rated door assembly would be allowed.

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Builder bob
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Keeferrk....Nope.. IBC TAble 704.8 does not allow any openings (protected or unprotected) at a distance of 0 to 3 feet.

However, the catch here, is the distance measurement of the fire seperation distance. If the designer jogs the exterior wall of the strucutre, the windows could be located on the walls that are perpendicular to the lot line.
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*----* <= place windows here.
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[ 12-22-2005, 08:07 AM: Message edited by: Builder bob ]

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rhAArch
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Update

I have spoken to the I.C.C. director in L.A. He agrees that interpreting the code as written allows for openings in the exterior portion of the wall above the adjacent building. Section Table 704.8 has a footnote "e." wich refers to 705.6.1 for stepped buildings which terminates the party wall at 30" above the roof. The portion of wall above the roof is to be 1hr. and allows openings with protection. The commentary has illustrations. The code is foolproof even if the adjacent building were built up at a later date because the new building would provide a party wall with 3 hr. protection from both sides by code which would cover the openings. Our 5 story building will be equipped throughout with sprinklers which will protect all of the openings over the adjacent building. The code also requires protection of openings within the first 15 verticle feet.

Thanks

Rob

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Tom D
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rh,
Thanks for the info. After refering to the sections noted, I rescind my original reply. I now see that table 704.8 footnote e allows the use of section 705.6.1 of which allows protected openings meeting the requirements set forth.
Thanks for the update and references, once again this site has provided a valuable learning opportunity.
Tom D

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k albrecht
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I believe that the wall you describe can have no openings. Read section 705.1 "Fire walls located on lot lines shall also comply with Section 503.2. Such fire walls (party walls) shall have no openings." Section 705.6.1 makes no mention of an intervening lot line, therefore Section 705.1 is specific to the case and thus controls.

Think of it this way, the whole rationale of the code is that every property owner has the right to build anything that you have the right to build. What happens when your adjoining property owner wants to put an addition on his building and make it 5 stories tall also? What happens to your windows then? I have actually seen this happen, thats why walls on a property line can have no openings.

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Builder bob
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rh...good catch, I also rescind my previous comment(s). So am I to assume, that after the 15 feet above the lower roof, you are allowed unlimited unprotected openings?

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Builder bob
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k......The party wall issue ends upon termination of the lower wall....You no longer have two buildings back to back creating the party wall issue.

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Uncle Bob
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If using the 2003 IBC; 102.1 applies; a section of the code "not excluding something" does not apply where a section of the code "does include it". The most restrictive shall govern. Where there is a conflict between a general requirement and a "specific requirement" ie. party walls, the specific requirement shall be applicable. Hope this helps.

[ 12-22-2005, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: Uncle Bob ]

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rhAArch
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K,

I understand your rational. However if a person were to come along and build a building at 5 stories they would be required to provide a party wall covering the openings that exist in the existing building. the new party wal is required by the code to have a 3hr. rating from both sides. The new building and existing building will still meet code. The owner of the existing building took a chance and enjoyed a number of years with the light from those windows with full knowledge that they may be blocked at some later date. In our case the client owns the building to the south and is willing to take that risk. I still believe that the current wording of the code allows the windows, because it explicitl states that section 705.6.1 applies. It is part of the definition of a fire wall.

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k albrecht
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In the case I actually saw the taller building was two story R-1 over M, the adjacent building was a single story M occupancy. The single story building owner wanted to build up. The windows in the R-1 were required. Whoops! I still stand by no openings allowed in a firewall located on a property line.
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Uncle Bob
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Just tell the local inspector that it is "Engineered".

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rhAArch
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K,

I respectfully disagree. In our case the windows are not required. The code as written allows for them. I have only heard reasoning that is not found in the writing of the code. If somebody can show me the words written in the book that explictly disallow the glazing on this wall I would change my position. I understand your reasoning and how the examples are in error but It is still very confussing to me that the code book does not address these issues. I would think that the code would state in section 705.6.1 that the section does not apply to party walls. And furthermore the code references the section too many times for it not to be so. Section 705.6 references it. Table 704.8 footnote e. references it. There is even numorous drawings in the Commentary that explain in detail. If anybody has a written verse in the code that disallows this please let me know.

Thanks

Rob

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k albrecht
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I'll try to explain my reasoning again so may be this time you'll follow me. Section 705.6.1 applies to fire walls.

When you build a fire wall on a property line it becomes a party wall.

Section 503.2 of the code governs party walls and defines them, it also states that they shall have no openings.

So all party walls are fire walls but not all fire walls are party walls.

Section 705.6.1 applies to fire walls but not to party walls and the requirement for a party wall does not stop 15' above the lower roof deck (note the party wall definition language "used or adapted for joint service").

So I guess we just agree to disagree, fortunatly I don't think you are planning your building for my city. [Big Grin]

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Uncle Bob
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705.6.1 Stepped buildings. Defines exactly what you are describing; fire wall separating two properties; one that is two stories and one that is five stories.

503.2 Any wall------"which is used" or adapted for "joint service between the two buildings".
The wall above the second floor is "not used for joint service"; AND IS NOT A PARTY WALL!

That is why 705.6.1 was added to the code. My great grandfather built a single story and two story outhouse on the property line of two families; one had 16 kids and the other couple was childless. Neither could afford the cost of separate outhouses. That's back when a plumber was a carpenter. The case law is somewhere in the congressional records. Just kidding.

Mind you, it breaks my heart to agree with an Architect.
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The less you know, the easier your job is; and my job is way too easy.

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MarcLowery
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K and rh,
I have to agree with K. A party wall is to separate two properties of different owners. A firewall is to separate buildings into fire areas. The imaginary line runs horizontal and vertical. So if this building is on the same lot, but is being built with no separation from another building, then yes, the openings would possibly be allowed. This is my interpretation.
(I'm glad we can all agree to disagree)

Thought i'd throw my two-cents in.......

Everyone have a merry Christmas!
Marc

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Marc Lowery, Fire Inspector- ICC Fire Inspector II

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rhAArch
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K and MarcLowery

Where in 705.6.1 does it say that it doesnot apply to party walls.

The difference between fire walls and party walls is clearly stated in the code.

Fire walls allow openings (120 square feet and 25% aggregate)

Party walls do not allow openings at all.

They are both defined by Section 705 with this being the only acceptiion. 705.6.1 terminates the wall at 30" above the roof. Untill there is text that says different. You cant make up provisions.

See Uncle Bob above he makes sense.

Rob

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Paul Sweet
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I'm not sure I uderstand this. If I have an empty lot, and there is a lot with a low building extending all the way to the property line on one side, and another empty lot on the other side, and I built a new tall building extending to both property lines, the side facing the empty lot couldn't have openings, but the side facing the other building could have unlimited openings starting 15' above the roof of the lower building?
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rhAArch
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Uncle Bob,

Your heart need not be broken yet. I am not an architect yet. I still have to take the exam. This forum should help. what a great resource.

Rob

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rhAArch
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Paul,

My argument which is backed by the ICC Senior Technical staff is that a strict reading of the current 2003 IBC does indeed allow for this. Footnote e in table 704.8 clearly allows you to use section 705.6.1.

Rob

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rhAArch
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To all,

I can understand everybody and partially agree. I was just making the point that the code as written is a bit foggy. I think that it currently allows for glazing above the party wall. I thought that at least I would get people to think about it. I am not advocating that I am right but I think it is interesting that the ICC official has taken a position that allows for this and most everybody else thinks otherwise. I don't know what to believe I just hope they don't have a question like this on the ARE.

Have a Happy Holiday.

Rob

[ 12-23-2005, 06:44 AM: Message edited by: rhAArch ]

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clearly
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There is no code exception that allows any openings in any exterior wall that is less than three feet from an interior lot line. None.

The reasons are often stated and obvious:
1. There is an inherent danger of fire spreading from one building to another. The closer together those two buildings become, the higher the fire risk from exposure.
2. There is no knowledge of the type of building that may be proposed on an adjacent lot. The owner of one property would have no control over the development of an adjacent property.

For these reasons, the code anticipates the most restrictive possibilities.

Additional comments:

PARTY WALLS. The use of party walls in the code now requires that they be constructed without openings as long as they meet all of the following:

a) They must be located on a property line.
b) They must be between adjacent buildings.
c) They must be walls that are used or adopted for joint service between the two buildings.

Without meeting all of the parameters, the “party” wall does not need to meet the stated requirements.

Please note that the requirements for party walls have nothing to do with requirements for exterior walls that are on or near property lines.

NOTE: The party wall concept was introduced in the 2000 IBC and is considered more restrictive than previous code requirements for similar walls.

Once the concepts of two buildings vs. one building, property lines outside of a building vs. property lines separating two buildings, and party walls becomes more clear it will be more easy to understand the requirements of Section 503.2, Table 704.8 footnote e, Section 705.1, and Section 705.6.1.

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Uncle Bob
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"There is no code exception that allows any openings in any exterior wall that is less than three feet from an interior lot line. None."

705.1 Fire walls located on "lot lines" shall also comply with Section 503.2. Such fire walls (party walls) shall be constructed without openings. The code uses the term "Party Wall" to distinguish the requirements from a wall that is not between the two buildings. Section 503.2 "PARTY WALLS".

The "Party/Fire Wall" only effects the first two stories.

The exterior wall of the next three stories of the adjacent building is NOT a "Party Wall".

705.6.1 Stepped buildings. Where a fire wall serves as an "exterior wall" for a building and "separates buildings, and separates buildings, and separates buildings", having different roof levels, such wall (fire wall) "shall terminate" at a point not less than 30 inches above the lower roof level, (that's it, that is the end of the "Party wall" and the required "fire wall" "BETWEEN" the adjacent buildings),
"PROVIDED" the exterior wall (of the next three stories) for a height of 15 feet "above the lower roof" is not less than 1-hour fire-resistance-rated construction from both side "WITH, WITH, WITH, OPENING, OPENINGS, OPENINGS protected by assemblies having a 3/4-hour fire protection rating.

If you have a building official that has made up his mind; you are going to have to get a ICC written ruling (provided for on this site) or appeal his decision. A great source for examples should be large metropolitan Cities. There are literally hundreds of thousands of buildings with windows overlooking the building adjacent to it with zero lot lines. Go to the city once in a while.

Crap, now I have to get new batteries for my pacemaker.

Merry Christmas, Felice Navida (speltrong)

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Putting back my e-mail address; osoros@hotmail.com (ps. my real name is not "Bob Hamilton"); just in case I find that I am not a "valued member". :(

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MarcLowery
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Uncle Bob and Rh,

I finally understand what your trying to say (im a little slow)The upper three stories could have openings because they're farther than 30 inches(no openings would be allowed in that 30 inches) from the other building....but if the shorter building is ever added on to in height, then it would be required to bring its exterior walls up to the required fire resistance........Now, Uncle Bob, You should rest a while and calm down the ol' ticker. Ha

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Marc Lowery, Fire Inspector- ICC Fire Inspector II

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k albrecht
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Uncle Bob, you are quoting the right section of code but your not getting the interpretation right.

Section 705.1 says "Fire walls located on lot lines shall also comply with Section 503.2." They do not have to fit the definition of party wall but they do have to built the same as party walls.

The section goes on to say that these fire walls (party walls) shall have no openings.

I agree with Paul Sweet, what sense would it make if a building built to the property line on two sides, one side facing an empty lot with no openings and the other side adjacent to another building with unlimited openings 15' above the adjacent building?

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Uncle Bob
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503.2 Party walls. Any wall located on a lot line (1)"between" adjacent buildings. which is (2)"used" or (3) "adapted" (4)"for joint service" (1) "between" the two buildings, shall be constructed in accordance with Section 705, without openings and shall (5) "create" separate buildings.

(1) between - In the space separating. "The wall above the second floor is not in the space separating the two buildings."

(2) used - to employ for some purpose. "The purpose stated is '(4) for joint service'. The wall above the second floor does not serve the two story building.

(3) adapted - having been made suitable to requirements. "The wall "between" the two buildings up to the top of the second floor must be made suitable (4)'for joint service'. The wall above the second floor does not service the two story building.

(4) a. joint - Shared by two or more. "The wall above is not shared by both buildings."

(4) b. service - an act of helpful activity. "The wall above provides no service to the adjacent building."

(5) create - To arrange or bring about, as by intention or design. " The wall above does not create separate buildings." It purpose is to protect the top three stories of the taller building alone.

The wall above the second floor of both buildings; (1) is not "between", (2) is not "used" or (3) "adapted" for joint service, (4) does not provide "for joint service", and (5) does not "create" a separation between the buildings.

The wall above does not meet one out of five of the requirements of a "PARTY WALL".

Ya'll are keeping this old man young. Thanks.
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The less you know, the easier your job is; and my job is way too easy.

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Putting back my e-mail address; osoros@hotmail.com (ps. my real name is not "Bob Hamilton"); just in case I find that I am not a "valued member". :(

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Uncle Bob
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705.6.1 would have been made more clear if the code had expressed it as an exception.

However, someone who thinks it is not applicable here could describe where, when, how, and why 705.6.1 does apply.

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k albrecht
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If you want to get a clearer idea as to the intent of the code look at Section 704.10 "For buildings on the same lot, approved protectives shall be provided in every opening that is less than 15 feet vertically above the roof of adjoining building ...".

This is saying what you and rhAArch are saying that protected openings are not required 15' above an adjoining building but note that it only applies to buildings that are on the same lot.

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