Tag Archives: pole building hangars

Residential Airplane Hangars

My departed ex-father-in-law Carl was a successful hop farmer in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. He and his brother each owned four-passenger Cessna aircraft, and had them in individual hangars on Carl’s farm.

Grass Runway StripCarl’s well-manicured grass strip was one of over 14,000 private airstrips in the United States. While many of these are ancillary to farms (face it, farms often have the available space), more and more neighborhoods are being developed around private runways.

A problem which keeps popping up among folks planning to build residential airpark homes is the size of the hangar and the related building code or fire department regulations. The question usually occurs when building plans are submitted for a structure which includes a hangar of more than 2000 square feet. The plans frequently are rejected or, at the very least, the agency providing the building permit requires the structure to meet commercial construction code limitations. These can include a wide variety of restrictions including requirements for fire retardant interiors, sprinkler systems, explosion proof electric outlets, locations of electrical outlets and much more.

The International Building Code (IBC) addresses specifically requirements for residential hangars (keep in mind, individual permit issuing jurisdiction may amend or waive some or all of these requirements). In order to be considered as a residential airplane hangar, the hangar must meet all three of these criteria:

1)     Must be an accessory building constructed on one or two family residential property.

2)     Be less than 2,000 square feet

3)     Less than 20 feet in height

If not meeting the criteria of a residential hangar, the hangar shall be constructed as a Group S-2 building, which would be for low-hazard storage.

If attached to a dwelling, the hangar shall be separated by walls having a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1-hour. Such separation shall be continuous from the foundation to the underside of the roof and shall be un-pierced except for doors leading to the dwelling unit. Openings from the hangar into a room used for sleeping purposes are not permitted. What you can do is to have the door from the hangar open into a general purpose room, a kitchen, or a hallway.  Those areas can then have a doorway into a sleeping room. These requirements are similar to those of an attached residential garage.

Doors into the dwelling unit which separate the dwelling unit from the residential aircraft hangar must comply with the following:  Equipped with self-closing devices, ¾ hour rated assembly, and a minimum 4” noncombustible raised sill.

If a detached building, the hangar shall require a 1-hour fire-resistance-rated exterior wall if fire separation distance is less than 3 feet from the property line or any other building on the same property.

A hangar shall provide two means of egress. Only one door into the dwelling shall be considered as meeting one of the two means of egress. Most jurisdictions do not accept the hangar door itself as a means of egress.

A minimum of one listed smoke alarm shall be installed within the hangar and shall be interconnected into the residential smoke alarm or other sounding device which will be audible in all sleeping areas of the dwelling. This requirement is applicable to attached and detached residential hangars.

Mechanical and plumbing systems installed within the hangar shall be independent of the systems installed within the dwelling. Building sewer lines may connect outside the structures.

Pole (post frame) buildings make for ideal residential airplane hangars as they allow for large clearspans, are quickly constructed and highly affordable.

Hangar for N3407S

All of the airplane owners have figured out the title already. Those were the call letters for our Dad’s Cessna 182.

When my brother and I were fairly young, our Dad bought a partial interest in a Cessna Skylane. There was nothing like waking up Sunday morning and having Dad ask if we wanted to go out to breakfast…..in Missoula….and we lived in Spokane!

Or the August flights over Schweitzer Basin or Mount Spokane, flying low enough to see if the huckleberries were ripe enough to pick yet.

My all-time favorite trip was the three weeks we spent flying the entire perimeter of the continental United States. Back in 1969, when I was 11, my Dad did all of the takeoffs and landings, but entrusted the balance of the flying to me. While it was probably a big deal, I didn’t think twice about it, as Dad was a good instructor and I was a willing pupil.

The downside of flying….the hangar at Felts Field in Spokane, where the sliding doors were so unwieldy it took much more than a good sized boy to get them open. And, because the door was on the eave side of the building, forget about trying to open the doors after a snow fall.

Cessna SkylineWith a brand new sticker price of around $400,000 – if one can afford the plane, they should better be affording a good place to keep it in a protective hangar.

Hangar space rental costs depend upon the size of the hangar, as well as its location. A hangar space which would fit a Skylane would typically be between 1300 and 1600 square feet with either an asphalt or concrete floor would generally run from $350 to $580 a month. These prices are generally without amenities such as water, electricity or heat.

Generally a Cessna 182 has a wingspan of 36 feet, a length of 29 feet and a height of nine foot and four inches. For ease of comfortable access, a 40 foot wide door with at least 10 feet of clear opening height is probably ideal.

I’ve seen narrower doors used, by “hooking” a wing through the opening. Personally, why go through all of the added efforts?

Read more about hangars in tomorrow’s blog.