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Topic:   Firewalls in condominiums - 3086 visits (2 today, 26 this week)

Jeffrey Mathis
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From:Grimesland, N.C
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home inspection posted May 10, 2006 04:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeffrey Mathis   Click Here to Email Jeffrey Mathis     Edit/Delete Message


In a new condo project, today, I noted that in the attic, there was no firewall between units. The drywall was 5/8 and likely fire rated, but I voiced a concern about nothing overhead. I could even see across to the next unit attic through a missing piece of OSB that was installed between units.
Any feed back?
JLMathis

Jeff Gainey
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From:Muncie, Indiana
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home inspection posted May 10, 2006 05:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff Gainey   Click Here to Email Jeff Gainey     Edit/Delete Message


Is this unit completely built or still in the process of completion. There is a sealed firewall required between these units. This includes any penetrations in the wall system as well as rafter bays etc. I know the drywall must be taped and no air gaps are allowed. This has been a requirement for many years. Several times I have found where the drywall is only partially secured and not taped, or there is a shared vent stack penetrating the firewall and not sealed/secured properly. Good find. Jeff G

Jeffrey Mathis
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From:Grimesland, N.C
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home inspection posted May 10, 2006 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeffrey Mathis   Click Here to Email Jeffrey Mathis     Edit/Delete Message


Is it a good find though? If the entire unit is firecode and a fire rated access door is installed to the attic area, is the common attic wall still to be a rated wall?
It is under 2 yrs. old.
JLMathis

Jim Luttrall
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From:Allen, TX
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home inspection posted May 11, 2006 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Luttrall   Click Here to Email Jim Luttrall     Edit/Delete Message


My understanding is the firewall has to go all the way to the roof between every dwelling unit.
Jim

Jerry Peck
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home inspection posted May 11, 2006 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jerry Peck   Click Here to Email Jerry Peck     Edit/Delete Message


In a condo, you do not have the demising walls like in a townhouse, in fact, you could have (and most frequently do have) one condo above another, so the fire rated separation walls/ceilings are "around" each condo unit. Floor, walls, ceiling.

With that being the case, there is no need to "protect foundation to roof" and, in fact, in most case, that is just not even possible. Not with condos.

Now, *IF* the condo has access to the attic above it (which would not be allowed down here in Florida), then the attic access would have to be a fire rated hatch (very unlikely to find one) or the walls would have to extend to the roof, but then, who owns and is responsible for the attic? With a condo, it should be common area, not accessible to any owner, or through any owner's unit.

In which case the attic is no-man's land and the fire rated separation is the ceiling system / structure, not the attic.

------------------
Jerry Peck
South Florida

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Brent Koerting
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From:Ramona, CA
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home inspection posted May 12, 2006 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent Koerting   Click Here to Email Brent Koerting     Edit/Delete Message


Probably doesn't apply here but that is one difference between uniform codes and international codes. The I-code require a fire rated seperation in the attic. If it was built under the uniform codes it only requires a draft stop which can be any untaped drywall / plywood and even firmly packed insulation in small areas.

Jeff Gainey
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From:Muncie, Indiana
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home inspection posted May 12, 2006 08:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff Gainey   Click Here to Email Jeff Gainey     Edit/Delete Message


I defer to the expert on this difference between a condo and a townhouse and understand the difference when the multi story condo that has a locked central hall access panel. These units will not be sealed between units here either. I misunderstood and took the post as an opening between two adjacent units with individual access panels in each unit. Thanx for the clarification Jerry. Jeff G

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