Renovation & Design

Life's a breach

Access door to garage a game-changer

With the electrical out of the way, the rough opening was created and the existing framing was reinforced with a laminated two-by-eight header.

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

View of the front foyer once the facelift was completed, showcasing the newly introduced garage access door adjacent the double front doors.

Sometimes certain home design configurations make absolutely zero sense to me. Imagine an attached garage with no access to the garage from inside the house? For years, even decades, my clients were forced to exit their home through the front door to enter the garage via the overhead door. It was time for a remedy.

During the fall of 2019, well after the kitchen remodel had concluded, a couple of further interior updates were underway, including the upstairs powder room facelift and an upgrade to a pantry. During a brief unrelated chat, my clients inquired whether a convex mirror could be mounted along the front of the house. It always made them feel uncomfortable when leaving the house, not being able to see in front of the garage before opening the overhead door, so a mirror would provide some semblance of security. I told them I’d inquire on their behalf. A short while later a very simple question popped into my mind while glancing down at the foyer entrance from the upper level. Why was there no access to their attached garage?

Apparently, there had never been a door to the garage from inside the house.

This made absolutely no sense to me.

For years it had been assumed that because there was a bank of four light switches on the wall between the garage and the foyer (in the only viable location for a garage access door), the introduction of a garage door would be impossible due to the electrical wires that no doubt littered the interior wall cavity. It was definitely time to investigate and surely there would be a way to make a doorway possible.

The sheathing inside the garage was first removed systematically in small sections, in order to map out the existing wires to the four-way electrical box. Once the wall cavity was fully exposed, the intended breach became all that more feasible, all electrical feeds to the box came from one side, the opposing side in relation to the front door. Thus, repositioning the four switches was as simple as shifting the box and the feeds over roughly 32-inches, and mounting it to that respective stud. A four-way electrical box-sized rectangular hole was cut into the drywall on the foyer side. The box was relocated, and the wires were then remapped to the respective switches. Tackling the alarm keypad was even easier — it is a wireless system. The keypad was set above the new location for the four switches, allowing the breach for the introduction of a new door to begin.

The rough opening was created by using the first viable stub, nearest the front side of the house. A new stud was positioned to allow the 34-inch gap required for a 32-inch pre-hung exterior door. A laminated 2x8 header was secured within the wall cavity above the main breach to provide support for the new door frame. These steps were completed from the garage side, to ensure the finished wall in the foyer remained intact. Once the rough opening was completed, the 32-inch door jamb was set into position, levelled with shims, and subsequently secured to the framework. The doorknob and deadbolt were installed, and the door’s motion was tested. Insulation was then placed between the jamb and frame along the entire perimeter of the door. A few weeks later, the entire foyer received an esthetic facelift. The interior was re-painted, the large window above the front entrance received new two-inch PVC blinds, and new casings and baseboards were installed throughout. The entire area is rejuvenated, and the new door appears as though it has always been there.

Access to the attached garage from inside the house was finally a reality after more than two decades. This minor renovation may not be the prettiest or most complicated of all upgrades throughout the house, but it just might be in retrospect, the most impactful.


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