Thursday, January 17, 2013

We want to build a two story garage, are there building code restrictions?


We want to build a two story detached garage with livable space above, is there any building code restrictions?


Depending on where you live there can be a whole host of building code restrictions.

Some municipalities restrict you having any kind of livable space above a detached garage; they do this to discourage people in residential neighbourhoods from renting out the lofts that are above the detached garage. Another reason that they restrict the renting of garage lofts is because older garages can have a poor or inadequate seal between the loft area and the garage area where people park their cars. If you have a poor seal between the two levels then you could end up with carbon monoxide entering the livable space and potentially hurting or even killing someone.

If your township does allow livable spaces above detached garages then you need to realize the rules and regulations that you will have to follow to satisfy the building department and also keep any tenant living above the garage safe.

You need to make sure that there is a proper seal between the livable space and the garage area below, here are some of the things you need to do to create it;

Spray foam the floor/ceiling between the garage area and livable space.

Foam or caulk any holes around pipes, wires or duct work that goes from the garage area to the livable space.

You must install steel insulated doors with a proper magnetic seal where there is a door between the garage and the stairs to the liveable space above.

Any exterior door should have a door closer on it so that doors cannot accidently be left open. Any door between the garage and the liveable space should have the same closer or have self closing hinges.

If there is a door from the garage and the liveable space then you should also have another entrance/exit that does not go directly into the garage but leads to the outside.

The ceiling between the garage and the liveable space needs to be drywalled with fire rated type X board, it also will need to be mudded and taped.

It's a good idea to put non opening windows on the side of the liveable space that is directly above the garage door. This will limit the carbon monoxide that can be expelled out the garage doors when a car is left inside idling from entering and injuring people above.

Fire and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in the liveable space. This is not just the law but could save people’s lives.

These are the main things that you should be doing with this building; a good building department should be able to give you a detailed list of what they require between the garage and the liveable space. Every municipality has slightly different rules and regulations for this type of building.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


  1. Garage door can keep the home safe because when they close the doors are locked automatically, this way you don't have to worry about locking the doors.

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    1. wow you have really provided some key FAQ's. This article is really informative and I'm thankful you solved my dad's issues. He has been building his garage since a year now and he was concerned about what ideas he should use to make it look unique yet practical. He also came across and said that it helped him too. I think you guys should come up with more of these topics because these are of real help to many people, no matter how trivial they may seem.

    2. Thanks for the kind words, it's nice to hear that I was able to help.

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