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 I designed and built my own hangar home, I placed an actual motor home door in the front of the hangar. It is 12 feet high..  At that time I considered that it was sufficiently appropriate for any motor home that I would realistically obtain. I still do. However, that was 10 years ago and since then I have learned that many motor homes are being built  with heights that exceed 12 feet. However even the large ones do not necessarily exceed 12’. I have a son with a 36 foot motor home and we measured it the other day and found it would easily fit, even with the AC, through the door. His has a “basement” (storage under the floor) and other luxury factors yet fits with no issues. However, the length is tight. A typical 2000 sqft hangar (50’x40’ is a typical footprint) leaves only about 38’8” inside dimension to fit the unit. Workable…..but tight, by many standards. When one thinks of it, if a Residential Aircraft Hangar is being comtemplate (2000 sqft limit) then any motor home that will reasonably fit will be unlikely to exceed 12 feet in height.  Frankly I believe that my 12 foot height is quite appropriate. However, the limitations on motor homes heights, by law at of the time of this writing, is 13 feet and 6 inches. Realistically, as in airplanes as noted above, extremely large motor homes such as the Provost style coaches (sizes 40’ or longer) can exceed 13’. However even the largest of these, at the time of this writing, rarely reach 13’. And the same argument would apply, if one is looking at a Residential Aircraft Hangar limited to 2000 ft.² then likely 40 feet will be too bit and a unit much larger than 32 to 34 feet in length will be impractical. So a good rule of thumb, in my opinion,, is that for residential hangers a 13 foot height  is more than sufficient  for anything that one might reasonably be storing. As with airplanes, the larger hangers may require beg for greater heights of ceiling and doors however I think that 14 feet  would be a comfortable height for hangers all the way up to 4000 ft.². Above that, owners may be considering much larger airplanes and the airplane, note 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. This, however, is dependent upon the type of hangar door chosen and these factors must be considered during design.


So in my opinion, if one is looking to build in Residential Aircraft Hangar of typical size of 50 feet wide by 40 feet deep, and excellent 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 material used) and to make the door 13 feet high.  This will accommodate most any aircraft that can reasonably be fit within the space and same for the motor homes. There are, of course, always exceptions but this should serve as a good rule of thumb. As always, you can contact me any time with questions.
People who live close or within an airport community certainly lead the most unique lifestyle. Hangar home design should only be handled by expert designers in the industry so that all the regulations are adhered to. Requirements such as space, insulation, and most important of all, practicality must be taken into consideration. Due to restrictions that are encountered in these types of constructions, it is imperative to hire a professional designer who can offer the best advice in the development of your dream home. Before proceeding with your hangar home construction, a number of architectural factors must be taken into account. The structural rules of these homes are different to traditional properties that are set by the airport regulations. There is also the clearance requirement to ensure that homes fit on lots and airplanes fit in the hangar. Just like any other residential development, there will always be restrictions such as the size of the hangars, the property's size, and whether the architectural factors blend in with the house. As lot sizes vary from small to large, and each will pose unique sets of issues to be solved. This is when you need the guidance of your designer. The codes and stipulations that are applied within the community may place a limit on the overall size of hangars. Generally, up to 2000 square feet are classed as residential; however, the rules and costs will affect the overall height and width of the property you want to build. Once you have decided whether your hangar home will be practical for your living needs, you may proceed with the design. If you are a pilot of aircraft, this type of property can prove most desirable. The house will need to include a solid construction with even soundproofed windows and walls in order to stop ongoing noise and vibration. Also, there are fire issues that you need to address. Hangars are not just used for plane storage, but they also serve a number of other purposes. Some pilots prefer to convert the space, or some of it, into a studio. In these instances, insulation is essential as it prevents disturbances that would make your living environment rather unpleasant. To suit your lifestyle, you should decide the style and size of rooms so that you can create a comfortable living situation. You may choose between bi-fold or hydraulic hangar doors. These entrances should be easy to operate,and this can be challenging as their sizes increase. It is best to seek the advice of your designer to ensure the result complements your interests. Materials for the hangar and home can range from concrete block, to framed to metal frame. Metal framed hangars are common in some parts of the U.S. such as Texas. Good deals can be gotten on these types of buildings though making them look like a home and blend into the overall architecture can be quite chore. For this reason, working with an experienced hangar home designer will be your best assurance of getting a design that serves as a home for the airplane and a pleasant looking home that you are proud to own.

Timberhouse Aero Estates

by Engineer Designer on February 26, 2014

In Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University, is nestled the flying community called Timberhouse Aero Estates. This small and peaceful community, consisting of 23 estate size lots, is perfect for any who love aviation, horses and outdoor activities. The property is less than an hour away from the Indianapolis Speedway and less than two hours away from Chicago. timberhouseaero (4) Lot sizes vary between 2 and 11 acres each. And even though this community is near the conveniences of medium and large cities, it still is a country setting for folks who want to horseback ride or even participate cross-country skiing. The community consists of 125 total acres carved out of the surrounding 400 acre farm called Timberhouse. It is relatively new with most of the 23 lots available for sale as of early 2014. timberhouseaero (3) The runway is a 3000 foot long grass runway. Personally, I love grass runways especially if they are maintained well. This particular runway appears to have been well designed with drain tiles having been run the full length of the runway which carry moisture away from the runway surface. If you want to fly in there to check it out, the Unicom frequency is 122.75. The runway is lit. timberhouseaero (2) The covenants are relatively simple with strategic rules to maintain the aesthetically pleasing nature of the community. Home sizes must be at least 2000 ft.² and hangar sizes must be at least 1600 ft.². If you are building there, it is not required that you build the hangar but you must place the home on the property in such a way that a hangar can be eventually built either by yourself or a future owner. timberhouseaero (1) This appears to be a charming community located in the Midwest near enough to key educational and business areas to suit either those still active in the work world or those desiring to retire to a country setting. Click here for more information.