Best options for replacing doors?
May 13, 2022 7:29 PM   Subscribe

I've been ordered by the Toronto fire services department to replace the interior doors to my part of the house and to the basement apartment of my house with doors that have minimum fire protection of 20 minutes and self-closing devices by June 30th, 2022. (I'm told given the supply chain issues I can get time extensions if I can prove that the two doors are ordered and will take time to come.) I have a below the poverty line income and some basic handyperson level skills. How can I do this as cost-efficiently as possible?

The fire prevention officer who did the inspection mentioned, as cost-saving options, that I could possibly find some secondhand wooden doors or get "skins" to put on the existing doors, by which she seemed to mean metal overlays of some kind.

I am having a professional contractor come take a look at the doors and discuss options/give me a quote, but I'd like to try to get other opinions on this than just his.
posted by orange swan to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
If you can use secondhand doors, I would try a store like this Habitat Restore. It looks like they can even help with delivery and installation.
posted by pinochiette at 7:52 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]

Go visit you neighborhood fire station. Explain that you want the apartment to be safe, but need some assistance making choices. firefighters generally wwnt to help.
posted by theora55 at 8:14 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]

Caveat: if the operations guys aren’t inspectors, they may or may not have the familiarity of the needed rated doors. HOWEVER, one or two of those guys could definitely probably help you install it, if there are no liability issues. Trying to find a contractor who would do pro bono work or in exchange for a testimonial/feel good social media story might be worth it.

I am a fire code official in North Carolina and not Ontario, but I’m still trying to determine how a code official has jurisdiction over a residential structure if it’s not commercial multi-family; Canada may be very different in that regard (unless I’m misunderstanding your abode). Another person(s) you could contact are city building inspectors - in the building trade, there are provisions for one and two family residential structures. Outside of apartment entry/exit doors that egress to a common hallway or walkway, I’m unaware of self-closing, rated doors in a traditional residential structure, so I wish I could help you more on that front.

Also, if possible, maybe contact the code official who is working with you and explain you fully intend to cooperate, but are there some examples she can provide you with so that you better understand the project? When I used to do inspections, when people would ask questions I did everything I could to help them understand what they needed to do and why stopping short of recommending a business, but provided common search terms they could use in Google.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 4:15 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you have a two-unit building and the fire service is asking you to replace the doors that separate the apartments. The fire prevention officer will have a fire code reference that specifies exactly which kind of doors comply. If you get the fire code section from the officer, you can google it and find the manufacturers of doors that comply with that specific section of your fire code. Then you can compare the costs and looks of the doors. If new is not affordable, you may be able to source them used, perhaps from someone who was making a two-unit building back into a single family home. You would find them at a used building supply place like Habitat Restore, as mentioned above.

There may be a program in your area that assists with the costs of fire safety upgrades like these doors and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. I'm not in Canada, so I really don't know, but there are such programs throughout the US. If not, you will need to ask if installing the doors yourself will comply with the fire service requirements. It is not that hard to install doors. The self-closing mechanism is a little tricky, though, so it would be better to have an experienced installer do it.
posted by KayQuestions at 7:59 PM on May 14

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