We have a two story house that has a garage that has half of the 2nd story covering it and the other half doesn't. I want to build an "attic" opening to be able to access to run cables and other things.

So if you can imagine a garage with the back half of it that's holding the weight of the 2nd story and front half of the garage that's empty with at least a 4-5 foot gap from the ceiling to the garage roof to move around. This is where I want to place my access hole opening.

The issue is, I'm not sure if it's safe or to code etc.

This is what the stud/wood layout is now. There are two 2x10 inch boards that are attached to each other with 9 inch gaps between the double studs that run from the back toward the front. Since the 2x10 inch boards are running side by side, this equals another 3 inches.

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This is what I'm planning on doing. When I cut one of these double 2x10 beams, I will place adjacent pieces to hold the recently cut pieces on both sides. As you can see in the next image. With a 30 inch gap to be able to fit in and out of the hole.

enter image description here

I've never see a single video of anyone attempting to do this. And since these 2x10 beams are holding up part of the 2nd story, I wasn't sure if this was possible or a good idea. I honestly figured with so many double beams stretching across the garage, Cutting a single one couldn't possibly have any effect on the overall structure, but I wanted to ask about it anyway.

Birdeye View. I don't know how the beams are laid out on the left side of the garage. I'm assuming they run along a different path than the beams I've seen on the right side of the garage. I'm pretty positive the run on the path i've shown. But at the end of the day, it's irrelevant to the question.

enter image description here

  • I do not believe this is a good idea. Why don't you simply build a 9x30 frame and see if you can pull it down over your body to the floor? If you can then you can fit through a 9x30 hole. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 11:25
  • 2
    If those structural changes are allowed, you won’t be able to use any old attic door assembly as you have to maintain the fire rating of the garage ceiling as well. Not sure on specifics of the door construction since I’ve never done it myself and I only usually research what I plan to do as a DIYer. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 12:52
  • Are you sure the attic isn't built with trusses? That is a whole other ball game... If it is joist construction, you would have to add a piece of wood to span several joists on either side of the opening, before you cut. Typical header creation for old-work method of installing an access door in the ceiling. The DOUBLE beam gives me a bit of pause.
    – Evil Elf
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 14:47
  • @evilelf it's not, I laid out exactly how its designed in my diagram along the entire ceiling of the garage. Above the double beans is a huge gap, as I mentioned before. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 19:47

2 Answers 2


You would do far better to put your access horizontally from the second floor of the house into the space above the garage.

I honestly figured with so many double beams stretching across the garage, Cutting a single one couldn't possibly have any effect on the overall structure

If they were not needed for the design, they would not be there.

  • The way this house is designed, this is not possible. Even if it was possible, I wouldn't do it. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 19:40
  • But this gave me an idea of maybe installing a hole to this area from the side of the house, instead of through the ceiling. This was actually done to reach the kitchen crawl space above. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 19:56

Surprised that an attic scuttle was not installed in the garage ceiling at the time of construction. You can header the joists to install a scuttle but there's some question here if you have trusts or what. Have a journeyman carpenter experienced in structural work to do it properly. As mentioned previously, you have to support across several joists before cutting to keep things in alignment and supported. Do not just end nail or end screw. Use brackets or angle plates as well. This depends on what's going on structurally given the double 2x10's and how much load is being carried in your choice of scuttle location. You'd have to cut a hole and look at what's going on above. To maintain fire code, use a double layer of 5/8+ fire code type x drywall on the scuttle cover, and fire rated insulation on top of that so when it is dropped in place it restores the ceiling fire rating. You can also have a G.C. look at things and give you and estimate as well as advice to conform to local code and do things properly or have then do it. *Note: the double 2x10 with 9 inch spacing for ceiling joists//spans is a bit strange. How wide is the garage span?

  • I did cut a hole, many holes. This is how I know exactly what is going on above me. I know the exact layout of the crawl space above me. This is how I know there is a 5-6 foot gap above for me to crawl into to run cables. I'm also surprised they did not make this hole as well. The people who built the house probably never though about doing so. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 19:50
  • There are no trusses, just the layout you see in my picture. Above those double beams is an empty space on the front end of the garage. On the back end of the garage, the 2nd floor is being held. It is a weird design. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 19:51
  • How wide is the garage span? The entire garage is roughly 650 sq ft. The 2nd story only occupies I would say 50-60% of the surface area above the garage. I've updated my question and included a birdseye view from the top. Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 20:14

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