Crazy Cool Bifold Door Sidesteps Zoning Restriction for Unique Motorhome Garage

Herb Korthuis of Lynden, Washington, wanted to have a large garage on his new home but he ran into a glitch with a local zoning ordinance. He was restricted to an 8 foot tall door, too short to fit his 12-1/2 foot tall Country Coach motorhome. Any larger garage door wouldn’t conform to what the city wanted for the neighborhood.

Turning back the clock, a year or so earlier, Korthuis, knowing there were certain restrictions, talked to the developer before he bought a home lot on which to build. He asked him if he would meet the

Schweiss bifold door

Korthuis had a contractor attach a conventional garage door front with windows to the bottom half of the Schweiss doorframe and finished off the top with siding that exactly matched his new home.

requirement if he made a door that didn’t look like a door. The developer said yes, but wanted to see what it would look like.

A vegetable farmer himself, Korthuis was visiting relatives in Iowa and took a trip to the Iowa State Fair where he visited the Schweiss Doors display and demonstration booth.

“After seeing the Schweiss Doors I said ‘That’s exactly what I want for my motorhome garage door!’” He picked up some literature and took it home with him. He also visited a local airport where a friend owned a big Schweiss airpark hangar door to see a bifold liftstrap door first hand and get a general idea of how the Schweiss door operated. The gears started turning in his head and he was sure he could come up with a door that wouldn’t look like a door.

Schweiss bifold

Two patented Schweiss liftstraps and a heavy-duty bottom-drive motor easily lift the 16 foot RV Schweiss bifold garage door.

He was convinced at that point that he was going forward with his idea for a motorhome garage door and made an appointment with Lynden, Washington, architect Mark Ouellette of Ouellette Residential Design, who had used Schweiss doors on several airplane hangars and agricultural buildings. The two discussed several options to conform to the zoning restrictions.

Ouellette and Korthuis eventually came up with a sketch of what they wanted and Korthuis approached the building inspector to get his opinion. The building inspector looked at the sketch and agreed that the door blended into the rest of the architecture of the home and conformed to the look of the neighborhood.

Ouellette’s first idea was to use a downward ramp that went halfway into the ground using a conventional garage door. Then recalling what he had seen in Schweiss Doors literature he and Korthuis devised an alternative to make the top-half portion of the garage door exactly match the siding of the Korthuis home.

Schweiss bifold door

Hiding behind the deceptively-conventional door is the owner’s 12-1/2 foot tall motorhome.

At one point Korthuis and Ouellette debated whether to use a Schweiss one-piece hydraulic door, but eventually decided to go with a Schweiss bifold liftstrap door 12 feet wide with a 14 foot tall clear opening, making the total height of the door 16 feet. Korthuis decided to fasten a regular garage door without the tracks to the lower portion of the Schweiss Door frame. Masonite siding would go above that. With the added weight of the exterior cladding he asked Schweiss Doors to supply a heavy-duty bottom-drive motor. It needed only two liftstraps to raise the additional weight. Autolatches, a remote opener and insulation put the finishing touches on the door.   

The contractor, John Schuten and his brother who worked in a metal shop, fastened a metal garage door with windows to the Schweiss door frame. After some fine-tuning they finished the job. So what appears from the outside to be a 8 foot tall door is really a 16 foot door.

“I’ve always liked the Schweiss doors, but the Korthuis door is crazy cool,” said Ouellette, noting that the vertical seam on the horizontal siding has a very tight tolerance. “John Schuten did a bang-up job cutting it on a bevel so the seam is virtually invisible. It locks up like a vault. Even when you stand right next to it you can barely see it. The finished product is better than I ever imagined.”  

“You have to really look to see the seam,” added Korthuis. “The siding fits at a 22-1/2 degree angle and fits in there perfect.”

Korthuis said that everyone who sees his garage door is amazed. Some of his acquaintances have indicated they are going to do the same when they build their homes. “The doors live up to my expectations,” he said. “If I had to do it over, I would do it exactly the same, it turned out really well. It all goes to show you, if there’s a will, there’s a way.” RB

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