Most large recreational vehicles exceed 12 feet in height, so a garage for a large RV needs to be tall and wide. Schweiss Doors has handled many requests for bifold doors to fit these needs, sometimes designing a door that appears to be half its height to get around local zoning restrictions.
In North Oaks, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul, Jay and Kathy Hare were dealing with zoning restrictions that prevented them from constructing a garage for their RV. With the assistance of Schweiss Doors, they were able to work around the restrictions. The solution: a 12-foot by 16-foot bifold autolatch liftstrap door with a remote opener and photo eye sensors. The door offers a 14-foot opening and, just as importantly, the outward appearance of a door 8 feet tall.
Schweiss Doors features many stories on its “Must See Photo” bifold door website. While conducting online research for solutions to their zoning restriction issues, the Hares discovered a unique bifold RV door in Lynden, Wash., designed to address uniformity code zoning restrictions. They decided to travel to Washington for a closer look.
“We were actually out in Seattle visiting friends and went out and saw Herb Korthius,” says Jay Hare. “He was quite open to giving us a tour of the garage and a demonstration. Armed with additional photos and a video, we went back to our builder and with very similar restrictions as Herb had, we were able to get it approved by an architectural review committee … a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a million!”
RVing is a big part of the Hares’ life. They’ve visited the 48 states in their 2006 Mountain Aire RV.
“We used an uninsulated garage door to clad the bottom (outdoor) half of the door and LP Smart Siding on the upper half with insulation in the middle of it and then used a plywood backing to sandwich it in on the inside and then painted it white,” Hare says. “Schweiss Doors has so many different applications on its website. We essentially copied Herb Korthius, with his permission and input. Having that story and picture and the owner willing to share his story with us really helped us come up with what we needed to do with our house. The website offers a real service for people looking for unique ideas for openings.”
Hare says RV owners are faced with the options of placing their expensive coaches in storage or leaving them outside, because of zoning restrictions. Prior to building his home and garage, Hare says he stored his RV in a garage two hours away. It’s much more convenient to have it at home, available for staging and servicing.
“I like the strength and durability of the door and what looks like a car garage door that opens and folds in half to make room for the RV,” Hare says. “We have all the conveniences of a regular door. The remote feature lets us pull up, hit the button, back in, just like parking a car. Without the Schweiss door, we wouldn’t have been able to build it. To tell you the truth, we kind of built the house around the rest of the garage. The door is high quality and should hold up for many years.”
Hare offered up several tips for homeowners undergoing a similar project, including considering the location of the RV mirrors where they enter the garage. The automatic latches reduce the width of the door at their location, but can be installed at a height to accommodate the mirrors. He suggests working closely with the builder to get the sightings and roof lines to work together and how to “beef up” the building to handle the weight of the door.
Bud Dropps, owner and president of Accent Homes Inc. of Ham Lake, Minn., said building a garage for this bifold door required some planning. “Our main challenge was when Jay first came to me saying he wanted to put an RV garage in the association-maintained exclusive area of North Oaks,” Dropps says. “I said there’s very little chance we’ll ever get that passed through the architectural committee. I was able to talk to another builder in Washington State that had done about the same thing.”
Dropps said the very large opening caught the attention of other residents during the construction process, but once the Schweiss door was installed and the false garage door was applied to the exterior along with the siding, it now looks like a regular garage door.
“Once I had pictures and video of how it actually worked, then it passed the architectural committee,” Dropps says. “It’s all about the façade out there, it has to look right. It was fun, it was challenging. I’ve been building houses and RV garages for 40 years and have never done anything that remotely resembled that. All in all, it turned out great. They love it and I think the door is awesome.”
Dropps says it also was helpful to obtain drawings from Schweiss Doors. He consulted an engineer who recommended using steel to ensure the building’s structural design would be capable of handling all the imposed loads that the door exerts on the door header, endwall and building.