Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Orange bar
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

Opinion: Two unit townhouses


Two unit townhouses


2000 IRC Sections: R321.1 R321.2 and MR 1300

Submitted By:

Uniformity Committee

Approved By:

Thomas R. Joachim, State Building Official

Issue Date:

December 2003


Does the IRC permit the construction of 2 unit townhouses and if so, how does one arrive at that interpretation?


There are no two-unit townhouses. The IRC permits dwellings with 2 dwelling units and townhouses with 3 or more units.

Committee comments:

The developer could use the IRC for the "two dwelling unit" structures, although the IRC would not consider those structures to be a "townhouse." The major difference is the fire separation requirements. Generally speaking, two dwelling units in the same building (on the same lot) require one-hour separation. Two dwelling units separated by a lot line require two one-hour rated walls at the lot line. A townhouse (three or more dwelling units) will be separated by two one-hour rated walls at the lot line (or imaginary lot line), or one two-hour wall. The two-hour wall provision listed in section R321.2, under the "Exception," does not apply to two-unit dwellings.

The scope of the IRC addresses "detached one and two family dwellings", which by definition, a "dwelling" can contain two "dwelling units." Such as a duplex (English language vs. code word). The scope of the IRC also addresses "townhouses," which is "a single family dwelling unit constructed in a group of three or more attached units in which each unit extends from foundation to roof and open space on at least two sides."

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