A garage apartment is as safe to live in as any other apartment as long as it gets built to code. Fire and building codes exist for good reason. Garage apartments often get added to an already existing garage that was not originally designed as a living space. Some special considerations exist for garage apartments that you can easily check out before renting. A few simple questions will determine if the garage currently houses cars or other hazards. Ask when the garage remodel took place, as well as the name and title of the building inspector who looked at it.
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According to the Bloomington, Ill. Fire Department, everyone needs two exits from an apartment. One should be the regular inside stairwell and the other should lead directly to the street, for instance by an outside fire escape through a window or a door. As with any apartment, you should find working smoke detectors in the apartment.
An important question to ask the landlord regards whether or not the garage will house cars. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a car should never run inside a garage for any reason, even if you open the garage door. Determine if the cars will pull in and out without any delay that causes the car to run inside. Regardless of the garage use, the apartment should be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector.
Exposed Wiring or Pipes
Since a garage apartment sometimes is a second-thought project, make sure there are no exposed wiring or pipes. According to OSHA, exposed wiring junctions, outlets without switch plates and improperly installed electrical panels cause fire and electric-shock hazards. Inspect the apartment for obvious wiring hazards and also look inside closets and storage areas.
Storage of Hazardous Materials
Ask what chemicals might get stored in the garage, since the garage often becomes the receptacle for items that should not stay in a house. Since the garage now houses a living space, items like paint rags and flammable liquids belong in a shed. Ask if you will have access to the garage so that you may periodically inspect for dangers.