Please be aware of the definition and egress requirements of a habitable attic as it relates to dwellings built from the 2012 IRC. The 2009 and 2015 IRC verbiage is similar and still applicable. Attics that meet the size and ceiling height criteria of the “Habitable Attic” definition in Chapter 2 are considered habitable. This is applicable to finished and unfinished spaces. Habitable attics require a vertical access and emergency escape and rescue opening. Vertical access can be a fixed internal stair, ramp, or exterior stair. A fixed stair or ramp is required on an attic that meets the habitable attic criteria unless a door directly to the exterior is installed in the space. Please find sections R202, R305.1, R310.1, R311.1 and R311.4 below
A pull down stair is not compliant with the habitable attic required egress, even if the space is intended to remain unfinished or is labeled as unfinished storage space.
(R202) ATTIC, HABITABLE. A finished or unfinished area, not considered a story, complying with all of the following.
1. The occupiable floor area is not less than 70 sq. ft. in accordance with section R304.
2. The occupiable floor area has a ceiling height in accordance with section R305
3. The occupiable floor area is enclosed by the roof assembly above, knee walls (If applicable)
(R305.1) Minimum height. Habitable space, hallways, bathrooms, toilet rooms, laundry rooms and portions of basements containing these spaces shall have a ceiling height of not less than 7 feet.
Exception #1: For rooms with sloped ceilings, at least 50 percent of the required floor area of the room must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet and no portion of the required floor area may have a ceiling height of less than 5 feet.
(R310.1) Emergency escape and rescue openings required. Basements, habitable attics and every sleeping room shall not have less than one operable emergency escape and rescue opening. Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, an emergency escape and rescue opening shall be required in each sleeping room. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.
(R311.1) Means of Egress: Dwellings shall be provided with a means of Egress in accordance with this section. The means of egress shall provide a continuous and unobstructed path of vertical and horizontal egress travel from all portions of the dwelling to the required egress door without requiring travel through a Garage. The required egress door shall open directly into a public way or a yard court that opens to a public way.
(R311.4) Vertical Egress: Egress from habitable levels including habitable attics and basements not provided with an egress door in accordance with R311.2 shall be by a ramp in accordance with section R 311.8 or a stairway in accordance with section R311.7.