In these Dog Days of Summer it seems like every other home I show in Gilroy lately has a pet door in the garage door entry to the home. There is nothing more exciting than to have “Spike” come blasting through the door to check out who is in his home.
Gilroy, as well as virtually every other city, has a building code requiring that homes be built with a firewall between the attached garage and the home. Many house fires begin in the garage so the firewall is engineered to impede a fire which starts in the garage from spreading to the home. Most jurisdictions require the firewall to provide such a delay for up to two hours.
While making “Spike’s” life a little more convenient the homeowner who puts a pet door in the the door leading into the home from the garage may have problems collecting from their homeowners insurance where a fire began in the garage.
I find it interesting that many insurance agents say homeowners with such pet doors will still be covered yet home inspectors seem compelled to address this issue in their written reports.
Occasionally, a homeowner will cut the firewall for attic access or to install a drop down ladder. They may face the same dilemma with their insurance company.
Building Code also requires that your garage-to-home door have a functioning, self-closing, hinge. For obvious reasons that door needs to close so that the firewall retards the spread of a garage fire. For reasons beyond me some homeowners disengage such a hinge. Again, such a move may prove costly later.
So, why not check with your homeowner insurance agent and see what their position is on the doggie door dilemma. We can check with the City’s code enforcement folks. Sorry “Spike”. Of course the standing rule remains: “caveat emptor”.