Does anyone know when code started requiring scuttle access to the attic? I have run into a couple properties recently that didn’t have them…and not sure when 22x30 holes started being required. I know it’s a good idea, that some loan types won’t go through if the inspector or appraiser has no access to the attic ect…

When I was a wipper snapper age of 14 working with my old man building houses, the attics were full of dry wood shavings.

It came baled like hay except it had slates of wood in lieu of string like a hay bale.

the bales were roughly 14"x18"x36".

Attic access were roughly 24"x24", 22"x24", and any size that would allow a bale of wood shavings.
I use to fall asleep on the job spreading the wood shavings. :wink:

We used to spread at least 2’ thick in the attic.

Last week I had an access that was 16"x24". So they come in all sizes.

So, in answer to your statement, if there is no access, you note that the attic is inaccessible, and possibly recommend that one be installed to service the attic.

The size of the opening to access the attic is variable and rarely meets code requirement sizes around here.


Not all attics are required to have an access if no equipment is present or the clear space is less than 30". It’s pretty rare that I see a pitched roof (non vaulted ceiling) without an access panel.

You don’t necessarily need equipment to justify the need for an attic access.
I want to add a room fan, you need to get to the attic to access the wiring.

I want to add an exhaust fan, you need to get to the attic.

I want to add insulation, you need to get to the attic.

And the beat goes on. :wink:

Modern building practices require buildings with combustible ceiling or roof construction to have an attic access opening to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet, and have a vertical height of 30 inches or more. The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches and shall be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location. A 30-inch minimum unobstructed head-room in the attic space should be provided at some point above the access opening.

The recommended requirement for an attic access is predicated on the likelihood that during the life of the structure, access to an attic space for repair of piping, electrical and mechanical systems will be required.

I do not know what year this became code.

Walt …

Wanta make sure I understand what you’re asking.

  1. Are you really asking when access to an attic was required by codes? Who cares.

  2. Why the question about size? I’ve seen 40-50 year old houses with 12" x 12" accesses. Could care less when built.

Same type answer for both questions.

Current building standards utilize a 22" x 30" minimum access to attic. If not there at ALL it sure raises a BIG red flag … WHY its not there (fire, mold, sloppy, etc).

If a 14" x 12" access its too small for many many service or tradesmen.

So tell your client the current standards and recommend installing one. Simple


Whatever the case may be, if I were buying a home and there was no access, rest assured, someone would make an access for attic to be properly evaluated before I purchased. This is how I report for my clients as well.

Thanks all. yes Dan, I am asking when attic access (scuttles) were required by code. I am aware of the under 30 inch height exception.


Recently, I had a broker that I have worked with in the past, and would like to again, She provided my name…and a couple others for an inspection. I got the inspection. There were no big issues, and the home had been built in 2006. The builder did not put in any attic access. I pointed this out to the buyer and noted it in the report. The buyer had a concern…which I can understand, and demanded scuttles be put in (2 separate gable roofs). They did and I went back at no cost in inspect the attics. The broker said that the builder has a good reputation and told her it was not a code requirement when the house was built. That is why I want to know.

It’s been a requirement for longer than 8 yrs. I do know that much.

Why do you want to know this?
What difference does it make during a home inspection?
I really want to know.

As most of you know … I was a builder in the mid 70’s and early 80’s. I became a certified Code Inspector in the early 80’s (about 1979-1981 I think). Attic accesses have always been required by code since I was building UNLESS the height or size exceptions prevailed.

OR unless they were in a county with out codes.

But the question is redundant on here. Call your local code department … ASK him what code was used there in 2006 AND then either ask him OR research past codes at that time.

AND after all is said and done, the only thing a competent home inspector is thinking about is DO I HAVE ACCESS TODAY or DO I NEED IT TODAY.

I’ve seen several over the years without access where I was told code did not require it. When buyer OR insurance company insisted on having one installed … Guess what? Wonder if they forgot about the mold, fire, pest damage, etc OR were hiding it (Surely not).

Thanks Dan and Roy for the responses. Yes, I’ll check the past local codes in that county. I agree generally with what each of you have said. However, the broker was already told all of that…less the part about code that Dan pointed out. I think it is relevant for the following reason: A home is, say under 10 years old and has no attic access. The buyers could bail, I can say all the reasons there should be access…but I can’t definitively say it was code at the time the house was built. If I could, it would be cut and dry. Since I can’t, the realtor may or may not pressure the seller to install access, they may say the home inspector is unduly scaring the buyer since the home was built to exacting code by the best builder in the area ect…knowledge is power gentlemen! Even when wee don’t quote code. Dan, was that a national building code requirement back then or just in KS?

Hi Walt. I hope you are well in the UP.

How would the home inspector (or anyone) know whether it was “built to exacting code by the best builder in the area” if it was not able to be seen/inspected because there was no access?

Ask the office of the AHJ what the date of the building permit application was, if you desire to go that far, and determine the code used from that date and look it up.

Christopher’s reference (IRC 2009) earlier seems pretty clear:

Walt …

I was a builder in Colorado and Texas during those time frames.

Once you report a deficiency, WHY do you care what the buyer, seller, builder or realtor negotiate between themselves. Report & move on.

The house built in the 40’s did NOT have a guard rail along the basement stairs AND met code. Do I CARE today … NO its of no importance to me. Today its considered a safety requirement and will be reported as such. What buyer, seller or realtors work out is of NO importance to us.

By the way … MANY things are required by Local or National code that don’t end up being there BECAUSE local code guys (a) overlooked or missed it, (2) did NOT enforce it, or (3) excluded it locally … So, Report and Move on … Don’t waste time on stuff that should be reported on , then forgot about.

Just looked at old code check for IRC 2000 & UBC & UMC 1997, etc

22"x30" attic access required at that time

Thanks Dan

The conversation about code is a moot point IMO. As I tell clients, I’m not a code officer. I am however there to report on the safety, operation, and condition of the home and it’s systems. Which to a degree takes code into account, but as we know code is a minimum for safety and is ever changing. I’m there to report on that day and nothing else. No access to the attic means no inspection of the attic. When I come across this my report states something along the lines of - no access to attic provided at time of inspection. Due to the potential for costly repair items that might be present in the attic it is highly recommended that access to the attic be gained and a full inspection of the attic be performed previous to closing on the sale of the home. After that it’s up to everyone else to determine what happens. While doing the walk around with clients I explain to them why it is important for me to be able to get into the attic - electrical, ventilation, roof leaks, etc.
Maybe the broker needs to be brought up to speed on why this area is such an important area for the inspection and protection of the client & the code question will take care of itself.

EXACTLY … Who gives a crap about that.

It’s “CUT & DRIED” today … NO ACCESS here and therefore we recommend installing one and inspecting attic".

AFTER its been said … I don’t give a crap if they do OR don’t do anything.

I have a 1979 building code book for Canada and it requires one. I does not have a size in it but it was required. The national building code was derived from the international building code.
It would not matter to me if it was code or not. If it is not there it should be installed. We have an AHJ here that considers a half wall a handrail for stairs. It is not graspable so I write it up constantly on new homes with the “safety requirement” in my report. I have taken a lot of flak from the home owners but will not back down. My guess is that if I go back to re-inspect the home it still won’t be there but I have done my job!