When it comes to building a detached garage, it is very important that this structure complies with code. At Behm Design, we provide garage plans that are based on the International Residential Code (IRC) parameters. The parameters work in most locations throughout the country. Before building your garage, it is critical that you bring the plans to your local planning department for approval. As a homeowner, you may be wondering what exactly it means to be “compliant with building code.” Read on to learn more about code and understand why it is so important to follow when building a garage on your property.

Garage Plans Based on IRC

All Behm Design plans are based on the https://www.iccsafe.org/products-and-services/i-codes/2018-i-codes/irc/ International Residential Code (IRC). This code is specifically designed for residential properties. This includes one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes that are not 3 stories above grade. According to the IRC, it is designed to “safeguard the public health and safety in all communities, large and small.” Basically, the reason such code exists is to set a standard of safety so that residential buildings are not dangerous. At Behm Design, all of our garage plans comply with the code set by the IRC.

Does My State Fall Under IRC Parameters?

There are some places in the United States that have additional code requirements based on environmental conditions. These states usually have unique and extreme conditions. This includes frequent high winds or earthquakes. These special circumstances cause states to have additional local requirements for certification. These states include New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, and more. If you live in a coastal area, there also may be additional code requirements. Check with your local building department before ordering plans to understand how your specific locality deals with code requirements.  

Typical Design Parameters

What exactly does the IRC say? The IRC uses a prescriptive approach. It says that structures must be able to withstand winds up to 115 mph. In addition, 2×4 light wood framed construction with rafters or manufactured trusses are required. A flat building site is assumed with soil bearing capacity of a minimum of 1500 lbs/sf. The plans have typical wall construction that complies with the IRC. This includes a 2×4 framed, conventional wall construction with studs spacing at 16 inches on center.

The plans are also within the seismic risk category “C”. A few of the bigger plans comply with “B”. Some smaller plans can be adjusted to comply with the D1 and D2 categories. Last but not least, the garages have snow load specifications of 30 lbs/sf. Keep in mind that these parameters can be adjusted to greater prescriptive levels in many of the available plans. Contact us today if this is something that you need for your garage.

Gain Approval from Local Planning Department

Before ordering your plans, it is crucial that you visit your local planning department. They can tell you about any unique local rules and requirements with regard to building a detached garage on your property. Most planning departments will require a plot plan. This shows which part of your property will be used to build the garage. Once you purchase the plans, most planning departments will want to review them to be sure that they are code compliant and safe. There are some localities that will require the plans to also be certified by a state-licensed architect or engineer. This is often the case in areas with extreme conditions like earthquakes, wind, and snowstorms. Once the plans are reviewed and approved, the planning department will issue a permit. The permit indicates you are ready to build! 

Prescriptive vs. Engineered Garage Plans

photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

At Behm Design, all of our plans use the prescriptive approach which complies with the IRC. This basically means that the plans do not have to be prepared by a state-licensed engineer or architect because they use prescriptive, prescribed measures. The engineered approach may be required in coastal areas or localities that experience snow, wind, and earthquakes. The engineered approach requires approval by a state-licensed engineer or architect before acquiring the building permit. The engineer or architect will analyze the potential forces that the garage may experience in order to ensure that the structure is safe. During this process, they may add additional notes or revisions to the plans to make sure they are compliant.

Why Is It Crucial to Follow Code?

At this point you may be thinking that code sounds pretty complicated and wondering why it is necessary to follow code. Building a structure on your property that complies with code is a must. In fact, there are harsh consequences if you fail to meet code. The first issue is safety. If you fail to comply by code and someone gets hurt while they are in the garage, you run the risk of being sued.

The second issue is that if you build without a permit, your local planning department has the right to make you take the structure down. As you can see, it is crucial that you carefully make sure your new garage will comply with all code rules and regulations. This is why it is so important to contact your local planning department before starting construction so that you fully understand the requirements of building a detached garage on your property.

At Behm Design, we provide a variety of garage plans that are IRC compliant. We know that you are excited to start construction on your new garage but there are steps required before you start building. You will need approval from your local planning department in order to build the garage. They will review the plans and then provide a permit. Keep in mind, there may be extra requirements if you live in a place with unique conditions like heavy snowstorms or earthquakes. Once you have your permit, it is time to begin construction. We know that you will love your new garage! For more information about our available garage plans and how they comply with code, contact Behm Design today.