Building Codes and Inspections/Shower enclosure requirement


Is there a requirement to have glass enclosures with doors for showers?

I been told by a building inspector during the final inspection that I'm required to have "shower enclosures" in two of my bathrooms  in a new construction house.  I planned on having open showers and have tiled most of the bathrooms for that reason.  One shower is 66" x 40" and has three 84" tiled walls.  The other is 72" x 48" and has two 84" tiled walls and is open to the rest of the spacious bathroom.  I have reviewed the IRC and have found lots about the requirements for enclosures if they exist, but nothing that states they are required or not.  An architect and my 3rd party inspector say there is no requirement and they have seen other homes with doorless/open showers.  Who's right?  



Regardless of what anyone says, it's the Building Official of the municipality in which the building is located that has the answer you need.  If you feel you have an equivalent construction method that will provide a result at least as good as the code provides, then you should be able to appeal to the municipal Board of Appeals if the Building Official does not agree with what you are doing.

This being said, the purpose of the enclosure is to keep the water in the area designed for water. The shower area walls have cement board behind them instead of water resistant drywall, and the shower floor is constructed with a lined pan with the floor sloping towards the drain, which means there should be a curb to prevent water from leaving the tested pan area. This being said, there is no real limitation on the shower size so long as the pan and wall construction criteria are met. The entire room could be the enclosure so long as it was finished in compliance with the code requirements for a shower, but that's generally not the case, and not practical from a cost or aesthetics standpoint.

If you have a typically built shower, even though it is larger than usual, if I were inspecting it, I would require an enclosure. An enclosure can be as simple as a dollar store curtain on a spring rod that could be removed after the final inspection if you choose to suffer any consequences of water on areas not designed for splash exposure.  

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Keith Fuller


I'm an ICC Certified Master Code Professional fielding general building code questions. My experience has been heavy in fire related issues.


I've been employed since 1985 as an inspector and plan reviewer, and am a municipal Assistant Building Official and Deputy fire Marshal. I've had fire service experience since 1972, having served as a three time Fire Chief and Fire Marshal in years past. The increasing workload, mandatory certifications, and continuing education requirements in recent years have caused me to concentrate my efforts on code related issues. I hold national fire service certifications as well.

ICC Master Code Professional

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