I am in the process of buying a house and the home inspection brought up some interesting issues. The house is in the Atlanta area and was built in 1979 with a drive-under garage. The garage ceiling looked strange in that it was insulated but sheet rock was never put over the ductwork or plumbing. The inspector mentioned that the house doesn't have a proper fire barrier between the house and the garage. It was a building code that wasn't present at the time that the house/garage were built. We wanted to finish the ceiling to have that barrier but mostly know that it would probably be an issue in trying to sell the house later. We're trying to determine if the cost would be too high for this project since there are a lot of other small but expensive items that would need to be repaired. I first was trying to figure out two things which are if it is even possible to do and if so a range for the project. I took a couple of pictures during the inspection so you can get an idea of what the state of the garage is. The water shutoff is on the ceiling of the garage so we would at least need to have it redirected to be on the side wall so it is easier to reach. The inspector seemed to think that the only thing we could do is add sprinklers which would be fine but we only plan on being in the house for 4-5 years so the re-sale ability is important. I've attached the images and would love an opinion from those that may have tried to attempt similar projects or from those that have worked with sheetrock. It is something that I would definitely have a professional assist with if we do it but if the cost is too much we might just keep looking for a different house.
Thanks, Cindy garage ceiling garage ceiling side with water shutoff valve

2 Answers 2


It looks like about the only thing you can do is add a drop ceiling in this area. Code here would require the drywall to be 5/8ths between a garage area and a living area. Basically this means putting in a frame to support that drywall. It wouldn't have to be finished except on the joints, and if you have an area you need to leave access to, you can make that a removable panel (leaving access to the screws that hold that drywall panel up, or creating a hinged door for it.) On the bonus side, it would hide all the plumbing, AC, etc that is now exposed. On the down side, yes, it's expensive, about $400 per 4X8 foot area to do this properly, with the frame-in, unless you do it yourself... Part of the consideration for this is also fumes and not just fire, otherwise you could probably install a drop acoustic panel ceiling, which is much easier, and slightly less cost. Also, I'm surprised the inspection found that door to the stairway acceptable, it should be a 20-minute rated fire door, even if one is installed at the top of the stairway, with proper self-closing mechanism!


This would not impossible to sheetrock and probably your cheapest alternative. By the looks of it there is room between most of the vent work and framing. Since it is a garage you only need to fire tape it so you can cut the sheetrock up anyway you see fit and then fire tape around all of the duct penetrations. Two sheetrockers could knock it out in a day.

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