Acceptable Door Between Rowhouses?

Saw the post about connected rowhouse attics and it looks like there are some code-savvy people here.

My friend and I own adjacent rowhouses and want to add a door between the two rowhouses on the second floor. Any clue what type of door would be required?

I don’t know the answer to this, but no one’s going to be able to answer until you tell where you live. And you probably have to give the city as zoning varies by city, though there may be overriding state laws which would say no door is allowed at all. I don’t think that would be the case, though.

Don’t rowhouses usually have a (brick) firewall between the two sides? At the very least you’d need to be sure to use a fire proof door and probably take certain precautions to make sure fire can’t get around the door…of course any codes should address all that.

If it is a fire wall chances are no door would be allowed at all.

What if it’s a load bearing wall? I forsee hilarious consequences.

Doors are put through fire walls all the time. They just have to be rated doors (and there are different categories of fire ratings), and the whole installation needs to be done in such a way as to maintain the overall fire rating of the wall. For example, you probably need the special fireproof caulk to seal the edges where the old wall meets the new frame.

These are separate properties, though, which makes it even more complicated than a fire wall within one property. You might need to put in two doors, back-to-back, one belonging to each property.

But the bottom line is that you need to talk to a building code inspector in your town.

That’s where the structural engineer may come in. The inspector (or his office, after submittal of your plans) will tell you if you need to call one in.

This won’t be an inexpensive project, and it may turn out to be much more than you think to start.

Sadly, I can only find the middle part of that episode, but not the part where Basil tries to install the door himself

It likely will a 2 or 4 hour rated wall between the two units. Often less fire resistive buildings (because of area limitations) will often have 2 or 4 hour rated fire partitions between areas. You may have seen these in hallways where there is a door that is on a hold open. They are tied to the fire alarm system and have a magnetic release the closes the door when the fire alarm goes off, thus dividing the building into smaller areas so that the fire department can battle the building without it spreading.

So in theory you could put a door there but I would doubt the building official will allow it. Your use sounds frivilous and not needed for life safety issues so I honestly doubt it will be allowed–but hey it is worth a call at least. But a 2 hour door and frame are ugly and heavy, not a pretty door by any stretch. I am sure your homeowner insurance company will be interested as well.

I would advise you to NOT do this without getting it approved and reviewed by the building department. If you install the door yourself without a permit you will most likely void your insurance (I am not 100% sure on this but I am confidant it is correct). The walls between adjacent units are rated for a reason so you need to proceed with caution.