Residential Aircraft Hangar Door and Ceiling Heights – Here are a few points to consider.

When deciding upon the specifications of a residential hangar home one of the decisions we face is how high to make the ceilings and main doors of the hangar. Besides factors of cost, there are a few specific issues that should be addressed as one endeavors to make that decision. These factors have to do with the Building Codes themselves as well as the size of the equipment that we intend to park within the confines of the hangar..

As most of us have discovered in our lives, we tend to fill every available nook and cranny of our existence with our “stuff”. George Carlin had a great bit regarding the subject which is hilarious to hear as it hits very close to the truth in most of our lives. A hangar is no exception. Of course we keep our airplane(s) in the hangar but usually that space becomes home to much, much more. One key possession that more and more folks are storing in their hangers is their motor home RV’s .

So a common question, when designing a hangar home, whether or not the owner owns a motor home or not (because he should consider future owners), is how large and how high do we build the hangar to accommodate not only our airplane(s) also our RV’s. Here are some factors to consider:

THE RULES (ie, the Codes)

When I speak of the rules I am talking about the Building Code. Speaking specifically of “residential aircraft hangars” there are height limitations which are voiced in the code which can become factors when determining the ceiling height of the structure. The building code does not address, directly, the height of the ceiling but it does address the overall building height as measured by the average height of its highest roof plane. This can certainly relate to ceiling heights. This factor becomes more complicated if one is looking to build a residential home above the hangar and this factor, occasionally, can affect the entire project.. As a side, future articles will address this interesting conundrum in the industry with specific recommendations as to how to handle. But for our purposes here, generally, ceiling height and the code limitations, as currently written, are such that most reasonable heights, within a one story structure, will comply with the Code.


Let’s face it, the main reason for a hangar home is to store our precious airplanes. Most general aviation aircraft have tail heights significantly less than 14 feet. Unless one is parking his or her Airbus or some type of airliner or large twin in the hangar, he or she can be quite certain that most airplanes will fit into hangers with clearances as low as 12 feet. Most Beechcraft airplanes will fit through a door opening with a 14 foot high clearance with the exceptions of all the King Air’s and Queen Air’s. Even the Beechcraft Baren and the twin Bonanzas will fit through a 12 foot high opening.. Most of the Cessna’s will fit with the exceptions of the Caravans and the Citations. Bottom line, if you are flying a jet or large twin of most any manufacturer then you will likely be wanting a hangar much larger than the 2000 ft.² limitation for residential hangar and you will want a door and ceiling height of appropriate heights. If you are operating in that range of aircraft you undoubtedly know the height of your aircraft and will give your designer appropriate instructions to accommodate the sizes. However, for most GA aircrafts, the 12 to 13 foot height is quite appropriate and will fit most anything that we see in the typical aviation communities.


Motor homes come in a wide range of heights. When deciding on the specifications of a residential hangar home, one of the decisions is how high to make the ceilings and main doors of the hangar. This includes consideration of the height of motor homes that may be stored in the hangar. When designing and building a hangar home, it’s essential to consider the size and height of the equipment that will be parked within the hangar.

When the I designed and built my own hangar home, 18 years ago, I placed an actual motor home door in the front of the hangar. The door is 12 feet high, which I considered sufficiently appropriate for any motor home that I’d realistically obtain. However, since then, many motor homes are being built with heights that exceed 12 feet, although even the large ones do not necessarily exceed 12 feet. For example, the my son has a 36-foot motor home, which easily fits through the 12-foot high door with no issues, despite having a “basement” and other luxury features. However, the length is tight, and a typical 2000 sqft hangar (50’x40’ is a typical footprint) leaves only about 38’8” inside dimension to fit the unit. This may be workable but tight by many standards.

The limitations on motor homes heights, by law at the time of this writing, is 13 feet and 6 inches. Extremely large motor homes such as the Provost style coaches (sizes 40’ or longer) can exceed 13 feet. However, even the largest of these, at the time of this writing, rarely reach 13 feet. If a Residential Aircraft Hangar is being contemplated (2000 sqft limit), then any motor home that would reasonably fit will be unlikely to exceed 12 feet in height. Frankly, I think that my  12-foot height is quite appropriate for a smaller hangar my size hangar.

About 2 years ago my wife and I did purchase a 28 foot Class C motorhome (a perfect size for us). We store it in the hangar, of course, and park a Smart Car behind and parallel to it. Plenty of room.

However, a good rule of thumb for residential hangars is that a 13-foot height is more than sufficient for anything that one might reasonably be storing. As with airplanes, the larger hangars may require greater heights of ceiling and doors. However 14 feet would be a comfortable height for hangars all the way up to 4000 ft.². Above that, owners may be considering much larger airplanes, and the airplane, not the motor home, will become the basis for the design of all height clearances.


Obviously, ceiling height and hangar door opening heights might be different. If the structural span over the hangar door is designed correctly, one can eliminate the need for a header extending down below the ceiling and can actually make the door height and ceiling heights very close together indeed. However, this is dependent upon the type of hangar door chosen, and these factors must be considered during the design process.


When building a Residential Aircraft Hangar of typical size of 50 feet wide by 40 feet deep, a good target for height is for the ceilings to be placed at 13’4” above the hangar floor (this is a perfect height for masonry walls and can be easily achieved regardless of the material used), and to make the door 13 feet high. Larger hangars should have ceiling and door heights of at least 14 feet. This will accommodate most any aircraft that can reasonably be fit within the space, as well as most motor homes. Of course, there are always exceptions, but this should serve as a good rule of thumb.

As always, you can contact me any time with questions.