toiletI’ve been asked this question so many times you’d think I’d know the answer by now.  By the way…the photo at left doesn’t have much to do with the question, I just think it’s funny.

Yesterday I was having lunch with my hardware friend and mentor, I’ll call him Maxwell*.  Maxwell asked me whether a single toilet needed to have a lockset that retracted both the latchbolt and deadbolt and allowed egress with one motion.  Strange lunch conversation, but welcome to my world.

According to the Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR), “The unlatching of any leaf shall not require more than one operation (1008.1.8.5).” There are some exceptions, but none that refer to single bathrooms. So in general, a single toilet would need a lockset that would retract both latches simultaneously.

Then Maxwell mentioned that it was a Residential occupancy, so one of the exceptions might apply: “Doors from individual dwelling or sleeping units of Group R occupancies having an occupant load of ten or less are permitted to be equipped with a night latch, dead bolt or security chain, provided such devices are openable from the inside without the use of a key or tool” (1008.1.8.3). I always assumed that this paragraph referred to the entrance door, so I spoke to one of the analysts at the ICC and he agreed that it does refer to the entrance door, but if a separate deadlock is acceptable there, why not on the bathroom door? Sometimes you have to use common sense and hope that the code official uses the same logic.

I know that the requirements of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (521 CMR) are more stringent when it comes to simultaneous retraction on dwelling units, so I started boring Maxwell with a discussion about accessible vs. adaptable dwelling units. I’ll bore you with that in a separate post. Then I realized that Maxwell’s project was a dormitory, and that dormitories fall under the 521 CMR requirements for Transient Lodging Facilities. In a Transient Lodging Facility, only 5% of the rooms need to be accessible, so the bottom line is that only 5% of the dorm rooms needed to have simultaneous retraction on their bathroom doors. As long as the code official follows the logic about the entrance door and the bathroom door, the rest of the rooms can have separate deadbolts.

It’s never as easy as you think.

*Name has been changed to protect the innocent.

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