attic access hole size

I have noticed that older houses typically have smaller access holes. My 1992 house the access to the attic opening is about 26"x26", and my 1972 house have five access holes to the attic and each one is only about 16"x16". This is too small for many people to get through - electricians, pest control etc...
Does this mean in general the population is getting bigger over the years?
MC
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On Sun, 24 Jun 2007 03:43:58 -0400, "MiamiCuse"

I'm glad to hear this. You're the first person to confirm my one-time obsrvation.
My hatch in my 28 y.o. house is plenty big enough for me, but I tried to do something for a friend of mine, and I couldn't get into her attic. I was real fat at the time, but it wasn't my belly, it was my rib cage that was too big. There was barely any fat on my sternum, ribs, and backbone.
And I'm only 5'8' with a best weight of about 150. I don't think I was more than a half inch or an inch thicker than what I would be at my minimum weight.
I'm really glad I didn't get up there and then have trouble getting down. I'm sure she's glad too, that she didn't have to call the fire department. They get F's in neatness.

I only have two data points but maybe. Her house isn't much older than mine, but I forget how old it is. 35 or 40 years at most. That's only a 12 year difference.
Oh yeah, our house built in 1953 or so had a whole drop-down fold-up stairway, so I guess that's not a valid comparison.
copy to her

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MiamiCuse wrote:

It means the framing is different and the newer construction is likely using engineered framing and it has different spacing.
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Shrug. Usually means the builder was cheap, or the designer never actually swung a hammer, and was trying to shave pennies to hit a price point. One summer as a kid, I worked for a builder throwing up low-end cookie cutters. These places had a roof overhang in front, and 3 feet down the sides, but then cut back to no overhang. All to save a few bucks on the roof system. As to attic access holes- these places had 16x20, in a small closet above the shelf. This 1960 cookie cutter I am in is pretty good for access- 24x24, in the hall at attic centerline. My other house, we put in a pull-down stair, headered off properly.
I'd hate to have me for a customer- I grew up in the business, with a good designer for a father. Sadly, I didn't inherit his talent, but it was a good education in what is and isn't good design and workmanship.
aem sends....
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It is the framing, the joists are 16" apart so the hole is 16". However I don't think this is cost related. This one is a custom built house and I do not see anywhere choices being made there were directly cost related. Even the access itself it was using a standard cover - metal with hindges, you loosen a butterfly screw, the cover swings down and hang by it's hinges, and you get in. These seem like standard access plates that are 16x16. May be it was an after thought someone forgot to put them in and had to put in after the fact.
MC
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Huh. Never seen 16x16 metal access hatches used for a man-way inside, only for access to mechanicals right above the hole. (sprinkler valves, etc.)
If they frame in a hole before the rock goes up, it isn't a big deal, unless the roof uses trusses. With those, you are pretty much limited to the truss spacing, but can go longer in the other direction. If, like you said, this was an oopsie discovered when the punch list was run, maybe they did take the quick and dirty approach. Attic access is almost always a panel you push up, not a door that drops down, unless there is a staircase attached to the top of it.
aem sends...
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Following up my own post here- my favorite attic access method for single-story ranches is how my father used to do it on the houses he built- instead of having a tall basement stairwell that catches cobwebs, with a light too high up to change the bulb, he would put a closet backing up to the basement stairs, and frame in an actual stairway up to the attic hatch. All you had to do to get up there was take the stuff off the closet rod in front of it, and walk up till your head pushed the hatch cover out of the way. A clever use of what is usually dead space, and the people who he was designing the houses for pretty much all loved it.
aem sends...
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I did this for my mom, had contractor take out back wall of closet, and cut joists in attic, add nice stairwell, then insulated attic and put in plywood floor, it took 34 sheets of 4 by 8 plywood but was worth it storage space galore. added some lights too.
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I measured my chest front to back, and I think it is less than 11 inches. That means that one of the dimensions of my friends access hole is less than that. I don't know why they did this.
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wrote in message (snip)

Expensive to add after the fact, but not a big or expensive deal in the rough framing phase.
aem sends....
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my mom had just downsized from a large home to a small one, the basement was JAMMED till I added the attic access/ storage
a few neighbors saw it and did the same thing
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MiamiCuse wrote:

Have you been off the planet for a while? Haven't heard all the distress about obesity? Back in 1908, average life expectancy for men was 45 yrs, average height about 5'8'. In another 20 years, the access opening will be 60x60, with reinforced beams :o)
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wrote:

Do you remember the episode where Carrie Heffernan describes Doug as wearing his house as a belt?
She has to come up from the outside to feed him while he waits for his friend in the fire department to free him. Ray Romano (I forget his character's last name) is in that one too.
This is "King of Queens", btw, on a par with the I Love Lucy and Mary Tyler Moore shows.
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MiamiCuse wrote:

I had a '50s vintage house where I had to enlarge the attic opening to accommodate new HVAC equipment in the attic. After all was done the building inspector measured the opening and found it too small only because of the molding trim. I don't know if there was a minimum code requirement or whether he was just ensuring that the furnace could be removed without building modification.
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MiamiCuse wrote:

No. In older homes, HVAC and water heaters went into a closet size opening down below. Most attics were no longer used for storage unless designed for it and access to the storage attics was by a stairway. Attic access was provided for the off chance that an inspection was required.
Now you have HVAC attic units, water heaters in the attic, and all manner of devices which have to be accessed (junction boxes, cable wiring, telephone wiring, network wiring, etc.). The attic access is now controlled by code. Back then, it wasn't even required.
--
Robert Allison
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On Sun, 24 Jun 2007 03:43:58 -0400, "MiamiCuse"

I was told that the access to an attic, without equipment in it was based on looking in for fires. I think with time, firemen didn't want to take off their helmets to peek. Just a guess.
tom @ www.Consolidated-Loans.info
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MiamiCuse wrote:

Is there any doubt? Have you seen the behemoths walking the streets?
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With framing on 16" centers, you will not even have a 16" opening-- it will be approx. 14 1/2". At about 5'6 and 145 lb, guess who gets sent up into attics with those openings (a/c work). What I hate is when we have to remove a pulldown ladder to get equuipment into an attic. Personally I think putting a water heater in an attic is insane. We don't work on WHs, but I see more and more in attics. Larry
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