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Old 12-09-2015, 02:16 PM   #1
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IRC Code Compliance Question: Patio Enclosures


Wife and I were considering the addition of an attached screen porch to the back of our house. It'd be built on a slab, existentially just above ground level. The hiccup is that because of how the house is laid out, it makes the most sense to build it off our master bedroom and not a living space as you'd normally do. The master bedroom has two windows, both of which would be enclosed by the construction of the porch.


Found what appears to be a significant hiccup with building a porch there. From the 2012 IRC, Appendix H, which lays out requirements for "patio covers". Since we'd be enclosing the only emergency egress points of our bedroom (the to windows) within the porch, I think it'd violate this section. Sounds like it could be a pergola without a problem, but the second you enclose it, even if it's only screened . . . it's a no go.

Below is a section from Appendix H of the 2012 IRC, which covers "patio enclosures". Our local building authority defaults to the IRC guidelines.

Does enclosing the windows within the porch structure violate this section? The last two sentences seem to conflict a bit in this instance. The emergency egress points would be enclosed, but would have an exit door. It sort of suggests that it'd be fine if we replaced the two windows with a pair of french doors?

SECTION AH105
LIGHT AND VENTILATION/EMERGENCY EGRESS
AH105.1 General.
Exterior openings required for light and ventilation shall be permitted to open into a patio structure conforming to Section AH101, provided that the patio structure shall be unenclosed if such openings are serving as emergency egress or rescue openings from sleeping rooms. Where such exterior openings serve as an exit from the dwelling unit, the patio structure, unless unenclosed, shall be provided with exits conforming to the provisions of Section R310 of this code.
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Old 12-09-2015, 03:11 PM   #2
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You don't indicate where you are, but I would consult with a building inspector that is associated with your local permit issuing governing body. I would feel a lot better by what they say than an anonymous internet forum re-sponder.
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Old 12-09-2015, 03:22 PM   #3
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You don't indicate where you are, but I would consult with a building inspector that is associated with your local permit issuing governing body. I would feel a lot better by what they say than an anonymous internet forum re-sponder.
City of Atlanta, so . . . easier said than done. I've got an inquiry placed with them, just thought I'd solicit feedback from others. Additional online research seems to indicate that emergency egress through an enclosed patio is generally frowned upon. If were not a bedroom, or there were another window outside the enclosed area, I think it'd be fine.
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Old 12-09-2015, 03:24 PM   #4
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Any chance at all of adding an egress window to that bedroom outside of the patio enclosure envelope?
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Old 12-09-2015, 04:09 PM   #5
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Any chance at all of adding an egress window to that bedroom outside of the patio enclosure envelope?
It could probably be done, but would make placing furniture in a sensible fashion difficult. You'd basically end up with a window behind the headboard of a king bed.

I'm not entirely opposed to doing a pergola-type structure instead. It would certainly be a less expensive option that could be done without tying into the house at all, which solves a lot of headaches. The big draw for the screened porch was freedom from mosquitos . . . I'm thinking maybe a few well placed fans on a pergola could approach the same effectiveness. The porch was already going to lack an interior access point, so it's not rain is going to limit the use of a pergola much more than it would a porch.
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Old 12-09-2015, 04:27 PM   #6
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How about converting the two existing windows into a sliding or in-swing Patio Door? It would add considerably to your cost for the cutting, re-framing, finishing and the door itself, but it would make for a nice "retreat" off of the master bed room.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:04 PM   #7
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I must be missing something.
Add a door and there's your egress.
At least 99% of the time adding an enclosed room over an existing slab to close to grade is going to have issues.
Main reason water coming in under the walls, siding to close to grade.
There's been hundreds of post on this site and any DIY site on this issue.
Pictures of where you plan to do this would be a big help.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:14 PM   #8
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**snip**.... Pictures of where you plan to do this would be a big help.
Man we like pictures don't we???

But they really do help a LOT.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:15 PM   #9
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I must be missing something.
Add a door and there's your egress.
At least 99% of the time adding an enclosed room over an existing slab to close to grade is going to have issues.
Main reason water coming in under the walls, siding to close to grade.
There's been hundreds of post on this site and any DIY site on this issue.
Pictures of where you plan to do this would be a big help.
The screen porch would have a door, obviously, otherwise you'd never be able to get into or out out it. The code doesn't really care if it's windows or doors providing the emergency egress. The thing serving as the emergency egress from a bedroom is intended to open to the "exterior" and it sounds like an enclosed patio or porch doesn't count, even if there is a door available once in the enclosed area.

It'd be a non-issue if there were another bedroom window on a different wall. But, there isn't. One could be added, but it adds a big chunk to the budget and makes placing furniture inside cumbersome.

Moving the porch to where the french doors are currently also solves the problems, as that is a living area and not a bedroom. It creates a lot of other issues though, which is why we ruled that location out initially.


Last edited by red92s; 12-09-2015 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:21 PM   #10
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They don't need to be French doors, a slider or single swing door would be sufficient. All doors can be made to be quite secure. Let's face it.... if someone wants in bad enough, they will simply break the glass and be done with it, window OR door.

As for the doors in a bedroom, I see that all the time in some of the high six figure homes we occasionally do work in. They will have a retreat off of the master BR and the owners love it.

Is the bedroom too small to add a skinny - tall'ish single casement window on either side of the king size headboard???
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:35 PM   #11
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They don't need to be French doors, a slider or single swing door would be sufficient. All doors can be made to be quite secure. Let's face it.... if someone wants in bad enough, they will simply break the glass and be done with it, window OR door.

As for the doors in a bedroom, I see that all the time in some of the high six figure homes we occasionally do work in. They will have a retreat off of the master BR and the owners love it.

Is the bedroom too small to add a skinny - tall'ish single casement window on either side of the king size headboard???
The existing pair of windows is already wider than a standard set of french doors. When you start talking about going to a single-swing or slider, even with sidelights, it's just not going to be as much light as the windows it's replacing (keeping in mind these will all be under a roof).

My experience with little outdoor balconies and porches off of master bedrooms is quite different. They sound like a great place to sit and sip your coffee and read the paper, but they rarely actually get used.

Adding an egress window on the other wall is probably a more appealing solution to me than replacing the ones that are already there with a door. Maybe one could be added without compromising the room layout too much? Can't be narrower than 20" to meet code, and needs to have at least 5sq.ft of open area.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:42 PM   #12
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Siding and sheathing needs to be at least 6" away from grade.
Done right there would be a row of block above the slab, sheathing protected with water proofing, a layer of PVC lumber, Z molding, then the siding.
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Old 12-09-2015, 05:55 PM   #13
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How wide is that existing pair of windows?

If you're worried about light, simply add a skylight. A 2' x 4' skylight would bring in plenty of extra light. Especially, if it's on a north slope. You'll get lots of ambient light without having to deal with direct sun light.

Call me crazy, but an addition with direct access from the home will get far more use than an addition without direct access from the home.
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Old 12-09-2015, 06:01 PM   #14
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As for meeting egress on the windows, I'm quite well aware of what it is. That's why I recommended casements. You can reach egress MUCH easier on casements than you can on double or single hung windows.

Just sayin....
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Old 12-09-2015, 06:15 PM   #15
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I'm on a fire department and we hate casement windows and there far more leak and maintainance then a double hung. Once again, if there's a door no need for egress windows.
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