Have you ever thought about how many people you can have in your home for a party? How about a holiday gathering? Sleepover for the kids? Well, the International Residential Code 2015 New Jersey Edition does not limit you, so, have at it! The IBC (International Building Code) sets guidelines for other non-single family residential structures such as assembly spaces to dormitories but not for your home. By the way, dormitories are calculated at 50 square feet per person so you college kids out there in a 100 square foot dorm room that’s a limit of two people in your room to have a safe partying experience! The IBC standards help determine hall widths and door sizes however in the IRC the only requirement is a minimum of one means of egress from your home with a clear width of 32 inches measured from the face of the door to the stop, so that door ends up being 36 inches. There is also a clear height requirement of 78 inches and this door must be side-hinged and exit directly to the exterior. So don’t try and make your front door a slider or an overhead door.
So if you have a 3,750 square foot home and you decide to throw a party with 75 of your friends, (I personally do not have that many friends), that will give everyone 50 square feet to enjoy the party… right? Not exactly don’t forget to deduct out all of the furniture, walls, appliances, closets etc. In addition, the IBC differs from the IRC in regards to the direction of the door swing. When space exceeds an occupant load of over 50 the door must swing out however in your home this requirement does not exist and typically a residential dwelling unit’s front door swings in to make sure you don’t get snowed in!
How about those bedrooms? No requirements there except the additional requirement of an “emergency escape and rescue opening” which is a window with a required minimum size determined by its location (5 square feet first floor and 5.7 square feet second floor) that is considerably smaller than the required approximate 18 square foot door opening out of your house. This requirement is actually not for getting out but for firemen getting in. Funny how the code has no requirements for the door out of the bedroom to the living spaces of your home. However, if you want to get furniture in there your architect is going to give you at a minimum of a 30 inch wide door but as long as space allows you will most likely have a 32 inch wide door and for those concerned about being in a wheelchair a 36 inch door would be the appropriate choice. Stair widths, hall widths and one door exiting your house are the basic requirements for single-family residential homes in accordance with the IRC. Does this concern you? If it does be sure to go over these requirements with your architect, but typically even if the code doesn’t require it, since its deals in the minimal requirements, your architect will always be looking out for your health welfare and safety!
So get out and have a happy egress day!