# Thread: The "1/2" in a 1/2 story

1. ## The "1/2" in a 1/2 story

Hey gang. Actually back again with another post and it feels good to have time to skim through FH forums again. I'm hoping this question won't knock me down a peg or 2 in respect with my brothers but I honestly can't remember the answer and the coffee clutch at the station only became an argument.

When talking about a building and we use a 1/2 story, for example: 2 and a 1/2 story wood frame. What exactly does the 1/2 story represent? The attic? When dealing with a flat roof we do not use a 1/2 story in the dimensions right? Any and all insight and where a "textbook" answer can be found is appreciated.

2. I wouldn't count an "attic" as 1/2 in most cases...

I wonder what the textbook definition is...I guess something like, "living space directly under a pitched roof." If there's no dormers, it's an round-number. If there's dormers, assume it's living space and make it a x-1/2 story.

A Cape-style home is 1-1/2 stories.
A Colonial typically is 2 stories.

Generally when calculating usuable floor area for real estate ads and such, say you have a 20x30 footprint, the colonial is 20x30x2 = 1200 s.f. while the Cape would only be 20x30x1.5 = 900 s.f.

From a firefighting perspective, the 2 story pitched roof you'd expect a fairly sizeable attic above the living space you could have a fire running in. A 1-1/2 that's largely living area, plus a lot of little voids you have to open up!

3. I try and go with the window theory as well. If it has windows/dormers either on the end like the posted pic or dormers on the long side of the structure (i.e. the front) I consider it x and 1/2 and more importantly so does my department. I'm not sure if there is a textbook definition or not since it always seems to be a debate when it comes up.

We have a couple of 'opinions' in my department but we sat down and said "listen, from this point forward a x story is this and an x and 1/2 is this"

4. After framing houses on my days off for several years, the easiest way to remember is that a 2 story or even 3 three story house will have those walls visible from the outside, with the rafters sitting on those walls. The half story will have those walls built on the inside of the house... in what looks like the attic from the outside. From the outside it will look like a one story with a big attic, probably some dormers visible. Upstairs in the half story, you won't have a whole lot of attic above you, but you have to remember that the half story really is built where the attic was so you actually have attic behind the walls, and as you probably have seen, the fire will get behind them and run the whole lingth of the house and also get above you. In those voids behind the walls is where you will probably see most of the duct work run, and possibly heat/air units and maybe a water heater. Alot of people get upstairs and think "pull ceiling and check for fire in the attic" when it is running behind the walls....Open those walls up. We have at times, open just about the whole length of the wall.

5. Thanks gang. Good to know I'm not losing it, and that the answers out there vary. I was always under the assumption that the 1/2 was an attic....space. The pic that resq77 posted, if I were to report that on a size up would be a 2 story building, but of course that falls under familiararity with that layout of building where I live. Now my colonial would be a 2 and a 1/2 being it has 2 full floors and an attic space by my size up on arrival.

Thanks for the input so far gang.

6. Yup, window theory.

I was taught that if that level has windows and has a living area, would be considered a story.

I would call the house pictured here as a 3 story house. The top 2 floors on top of the garage. Each floor could have an occupant. Typically an attic would not have occupants so would not be considered a floor.

That's how we do it up in the northwoods, ya dare hey!!

7. Ok, now here's the question:

Is the garage in the basement or cellar?

http://www.firenuggets.com/dunn10.htm

Not quite sure which to classify this as...I'd say a 1-1/2 story with a graded cellar entrance...

8. For us a 1½ story is one that has the regular first story then on top is another story that only takes up half or so of the same floor space, such as the second story only being a bedroom or so.

9. For us, the 1/2 is an attic space, whether it is finished or not. The basement is not counted in that description, mainly because you can't tell if there is one or not. You can be pretty confident there is a void space of some kind on any pitched roof.

A house or commercial structure with a flat roof would not have the "1/2" since there is no attic space.

10. ## Damifino..........................

I've never met a Firefighter who could only tell a Half of a Story. I'll agree that if the walls, or more correctly, the interior partitions, are set back from the exterior load bearing walls, that defines the "Half" story. I'm not aware of any textbook that has a reference to this. Professor Brannigan would, in my opinion, be a good place to ask, along with Chief Don Loeb in upstate NY. These Gentlemen pretty much have created our definitions in Building Discussion.

Cape Cods. We got 'em, and they make really neat Fires. Period. The multiple void spaces allow Fire to roam at will, and you need to be Fast and aggressive in opening up and applying water, or you'll have a flat top one story real quick.

11. here's a pic of a 1½ story in the area where I currently reside.

12. Ryan, we would call that a 2 story frame, being there is exterior vertical walls framing the 2nd floor.
Mr. Woods is correct about the Cape Cods. Hundreds of them in St. Paul and they are all old. Add all the homeowner modifications, they can be a fairly busy fire. Getting to the seat and good truck ops are key to keep from chasing the fire through the voids behind the knee walls and that little space above your head, aka the "cape cod cockloft".

13. We would call that a 2 story structure where I am from also.

14. ## I would say thats a 2 story.........

we hashed this out over here ......... http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...ht=subdivision

15. Just seeing what I see in Ryan's pic...two story. Looks like an exterior, non-gable end wall to me

Kind of funny how what seems simple ain't, eh?

16. Guess that's what we get for having termialogy (sp) that is regional.

17. Here is an interesting one for everyone...

We've got a new Hotel in our area. The Mountain Inn, and from "street" level it looks like a two story (or a 1-1/2 story depending on how your department works).

This picture can also be found on the Malahat Mountain Inn website.

However, that is just what you can see from street level on the Alpha Side.

What you don't see is a below grade floor accessible from the Alpha and Delta Sides via stair cases, and one more floor under that one that is accessible from the Charlie Side.

In all it is four distinctive floors; two "above grade" and two "below grade."

....at least the interior is all dry walled (though the exterior is mostly cedar).

--------------

Don't even get me started on the Aerie Resort.... That thing has more floors and corridors and levels, with sub-levels, half landings and areas and rooms that can only be accessed from certain levels.... it is a nightmare!

This picture can also be found on the Aerie Resort Website

I can't even begin to image where to start pre-planning those two buildings!

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