Renovating your home, even if it’s just switching a door around, can land you in a lot of hot water if you don’t do your research. There are a few other issues you’ll need to consider before rearranging your garage door, such as whether the new door leaves your home vulnerable to thieves.
A door can swing into a garage but it depends on building codes as well as some key safety issues. Things to check before fitting a door include accessible hinges that allow thieves access, staircases and landings, room inside the garage, carbon monoxide, fire safety, and landlords.
The following article contains more detailed information about local building codes and the safety issues involved with doors swinging from your home into a garage. We’ll also look at ways to secure your home if you’re using a door with external hinges.
Local Building Codes
Building codes and legal jargon might seem like too much hassle, but you can get in some big trouble if you skip your research. Your state has its own set of building codes, and each one was created for the safety of everyone living in or using any building.
It can be tempting not to try and make sense of them all, but your family’s safety may well depend on it.
The building codes cover things like how far a toilet has to be from a wall and ensuring there are adequate fire exits.
The easiest way to find the right codes for your area is to visit your state’s government site, like this one for Minnesota State, and search for the latest building codes. They should be regularly updated, and you’ll want to be sure you’ve taken your information from the most recent set of guidelines.
If the relevant building codes say that you can have an outwards-swinging door into a garage, then you can, but take care to read any small print carefully. There will almost always be certain conditions you can have your outwards door and specific situations where it still isn’t allowed.
Any renovation work is expensive, and the last thing you need afterward are hefty legal fees or even fines, so do your research thoroughly before changing your door.
This YouTuber gives an excellent overview on how to reverse a door swing here:
Accessible Hinges for Thieves
One of the most significant reasons doors open inwards is to keep the hinges on the inside.
If the hinges are outside your home, anyone with the right tools can unhinge a door and take what they like from your home. Having external hinges is almost like leaving your door unlocked.
Of course, if the door is inside your garage and the garage doors are always closed then this may not be an issue. But if you tend to leave your garage doors open at times, even by accident, then this is worth taking under consideration.
How to Make External Hinges Safe
Fortunately, if you still want an external hinge, there are a few ways to secure your home, such as:
- A set screw. Run one of these through the middle of your hinge. Once the door is closed, the screw can’t be accessed, which means no one can remove your door.
- Crimped pins. Fast-riveted (or crimped) pins create a rivet on your door hinges, meaning your door can’t be removed. However, it also means you won’t be able to remove your door either unless you take the hinges off completely.
- Safety studs. These studs act as a back-up. If someone removes your hinges, the studs will secure the door to the frame.
However, an external hinge is still reasonably risky. If you can still remove your hinge or door, so can a thief.
Staircases and Landings
A common reason for wanting a door to swing into the garage is because it opens directly to a staircase or landing.
Every state is different and your’s may have particular safety rules that could allow you to have the door swinging over a staircase or a landing. Safety conditions could include railings, non-slip flooring, etc.
Room to Open the Door in the Garage
Before you change which way your door swings or rush out and buy a brand new door, check the length of the door. Next, you’ll need to see how that measures up when your car is parked in the garage.
If you’d generally have two vehicles in the garage, check it with both of them parked. Your new door won’t be much good if you can’t open it. You’ll also want to make sure it isn’t going to scratch your car and that you’re not at risk of putting the door handle through a window.
Carbon Monoxide Fumes
Any door from a house to a garage is a potential carbon monoxide poisoning risk. Ensure your garage and home have adequate ventilation and consider installing a carbon monoxide detector like the X-Sense Carbon Monoxide Detector (link to Amazon).
It works like a fire alarm and will sound when it detects carbon monoxide in the air. It lasts up to ten years, and the batteries can be replaced.
Your garage door could one day save your life. If you install an outwards-swinging garage door, make sure nothing can block your path from the house to the garage and then outside.
Don’t squeeze a car in so close to the door that it won’t open, and make sure bikes and motorbikes can’t fall in front of it.
Keep keys to all the doors, including your outer door, in an accessible location. You don’t want to be looking for the right key when you’re trying to escape from a fire.
If the property isn’t yours, check with your landlord if you can switch a door around. You are responsible for any unauthorized changes to the property, and the landlord could be responsible for violating building codes if you change the door around.
You may have to fill in some forms to get a landlord’s permission to alter the property, even for something as small as a door swing.
Find out your landlord’s policy and what you’re entitled to do, as per your tenancy agreement. An unhappy landlord can evict you, take legal action against you, or withhold your deposit. For the sake of getting a door to swing in a different direction, it’s not worth it.
In this article, we offered advice on researching local building codes and why it’s essential to do it. We also explained some safety considerations you might want to think about before changing the door’s direction into your garage.
We also looked at how to make external door hinges safe. Finally, we explained how to stay on your landlord’s good side when making alterations to your property.
As a homeowner, I am constantly experimenting with making the structure of my house more energy-efficient, eliminating pests, and taking on DIY home improvement projects. Over the past two decades, my family has rehabbed houses and contracted new home builds and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I share my hard-learned lessons so that you can save time and money by not repeating my mistakes.