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Plan Review Services

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Change of plan - openings between townhouses

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  • Change of plan - openings between townhouses

    Only in our jurisdiction, I swear...

    Permit issued for two, attached, single-family dwellings (not really 'townhouses' as in the thread title). Each unit is built on its own parcel, with a lot line in the center. Built as 'spec.s', now a prospective buyer comes along and says, "I'll take the right unit, and my mother-in-law will take the left unit - AND, we want to create doorways between the units on the main and lower levels."

    So effectively, it now becomes either a two-family dwelling, OR a really screwed up single-family.

    Aside from combining the parcels, what would you do to allow this to move forward (or WOULD you???) and to prevent the two spaces which have the appearance and design of either a two-family dwelling or two, single-family attached dwellings to be occupied differently or sold as such in the future?

  • #2
    I would call it an I-2 because anyone who wants a door to share their house with the mother in law is obviously insane.


    • #3
      That may be the funniest thing ever said on this board!!! LMAO!!!!!


      • #4
        Now if I can hijack my own thread with a more general question - or two, actually:

        1. Can there be openings (protected, of course) between dwelling units in two-family buildings or townhouses? (I can't see where it is addressed specifically one way or the other).

        2. Can a two-family dwelling be constructed across a lot line and even have separate ownership from one side to the other? I can't find a definition for two-family dwellings in the code, nor any reference to ownership.


        • #5
          Looks like time for a modification.
          Allow protected openings with it functioning as a single dwelling unit, the modification being that the doors will be replaced with rated wall construction when/if they are transferred to separate ownership.
          Combining the lots is likely not an option as would create a planning issue with two kitchens and problems when trying to separate later.


          • #6
            If it can be accomodated through zoning, it sounds like a large single family dwelling.


            • #7
              I would allow the openings between the two. After the parcels are joined and recorded at the courthouse
              as one parcel, simply install cased openings on the levels desired and it now becomes an atypical one
              family residence. No protected opening requirements.

              Typically, only one structure is allowed on any one parcel, unless your AHJ has ordinances to allow
              others. The IBC would classify these building as R-3. Check your Zoning regs.

              What someone ' might ' do to this structure in the future will be up to the adopted codes, ...desired
              changes, Zoning requirements, etc., etc.

              FWIW, Coug Dad has the common sense and right occupancy group classification.

              Please pray for Wilson ("Daddy-O") and his family!


              • #8
                We still call them townhouses when we have 2 units with a property line running through them. We would either combine the lots together and remove one of the kitchens and all the smoke alarms where interconnected and call it a single family residence or under alternate means and methods allow a common opening between two dwelling units provided it was protected
                Last edited by mtlogcabin; December 28th, 2010, 16:25. Reason: Relocate the smoke alarm rquirement to SFR portion


                • #9
                  Where in the code does it say I can only have one kitchen?

                  Allow the openings, do not change the status of the lots with the county, ownership of lots must be under one entity and include note on permit that two separate dwellings can be re-established when openings are closed and properly rated. Done.


                  • #10
                    Had a SFR review once that had 7, count 'em seven, kitchens. Had a kitchen in the basement, three inside (one "show kitchen", one catering and another in the guest quarters), and one outside on the main and three upstairs, one in the master, one for the kids suite and one for the nanny. Too many for me but that is what they wanted.
                    Dwight, CBO, MCP

                    "Indecision is the key to flexibility." Unknown

                    "Always remember, Son, that anything worth doing is worth having someone do well."
                    Someone's Grandfather to the grandson.


                    • #11
                      Where in the code does it say I can only have one kitchen?
                      Local zoning only not building code requirement


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Min&Max View Post
                        ... ownership of lots must be under one entity...
                        How is this condition imposed? As a deed restriction?


                        • #13
                          Prior to issuing the permit for the wall penetrations I would require the owner to produce a copy of the deeds for each property. If the owner on each is identical I would issue the permit and note on the permit that the permit is creating a single family dwelling that crosses the property line. Individual dwelling units may be re-established once openings are closed and meet minimum separation requirements(2hr).


                          • #14
                            Let them have doors.

                            It is not a "townhouse" per the "townhouse" definition so it isn't really two single family dwellings but is a duplex (it meets the definition for duplex). Rate the doors to equal the required wall separation rating for duplexes. Duplex structures may have (but aren't required to have) different owners (as in condo units where the property line is between the units).

                            There is no code or zoning reason there cannot be doors between the units to be used at the owners prerogative that I am aware of.


                            • #15
                              I don't think we have a two-family in my jurisdiction, so bear with me if I am incorrect, but.. R317.1 Two-family dwellings allows 3/4hr doors between the units.

                              The definition of townhouse precludes 2 single family dwellings from being considered townhouses.

                              I do not see anything in the code that requires each part of a two-family home on it's own parcel, nor to I see anything requiring a two-family home to be on a single parcel.

                              I would tend to believe it must be a single parcel *but* that is just my gut instinct, I don't have anything to substantiate that.