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  1. #1
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    Default non-continuous hand rail

    I do very few new construction inspections which is the only reason I'm second guessing myself. This is a new condo. The builder is nationally known. Philadelphia is under 2006 IRC.

    Continuous means continuous, yes?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: non-continuous hand rail

    If the builder had run that handrail on the left side of the stair (going up) there would be no problem, but again it seems the "bean counters" are in charge. It's a reportable occupant safety defect..................... good catch.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  3. #3

    Default Re: non-continuous hand rail

    As Jerry said,

    With a design like that, they typically run a handrail along the other wall (non- guard side). Thay way, the handrail will be continuous, and comply with the building code.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: non-continuous hand rail

    Not only is the handrail required to be continuous, but the "logical" place for the handrail is on the right side descending (because there are more right handed people than left handed people), and had they done that the handrail would have been continuous as is required.

    However, as WC Jerry said, the bean counters said 'Wait, we already have a handrail on top of the guard, so why not just start it there and go up?' ... no one within earshot responded "Because the code does not allow discontinuous handrails, that is why.'

    From the 2006 IRC. (underlining and bold are mine)
    - R311.5.6.2 Continuity. Handrails for stairways shall be continuous for the full length of the flight, from a point directly above the top riser of the flight to a point directly above the lowest riser of the flight. Handrail ends shall be returned or shall terminate in newel posts or safety terminals. Handrails adjacent to a wall shall have a space of not less than 11/2 inch (38 mm) between the wall and the handrails.
    - - Exceptions:
    - - - 1. Handrails shall be permitted to be interrupted by a newel post at the turn.
    - - - 2. The use of a volute, turnout, starting easing or starting newel shall be allowed over the lowest tread.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: non-continuous hand rail

    Suppose they put a full length continuous hand rail on the left. They could remove the upper one in the photo, on the right, but the lower one has to stay, at least as a guard, because the stairs are open higher than 30 inches.
    So then you'd have a partial, i.e., not-full-length, hand rail on the right. It seems like the real solution is to somehow make the existing one continuous since that lower part has to stay.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: non-continuous hand rail

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Suppose they put a full length continuous hand rail on the left. They could remove the upper one in the photo, on the right, but the lower one has to stay, at least as a guard, because the stairs are open higher than 30 inches.
    So then you'd have a partial, i.e., not-full-length, hand rail on the right. It seems like the real solution is to somehow make the existing one continuous since that lower part has to stay.
    John, the "handrail" on the right would not be a handrail; it would be a guardrail. Just because there's a rail on top pf the balusters does not make it a handrail.

    The other question is whether or not this is within a dwelling unit or if it is a common stairway in a multi-family. It looks from the photo like it's within a dwelling, but if not, it very likely would fall under the IBC and a handrail would be required on both sides.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: non-continuous hand rail

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Suppose they put a full length continuous hand rail on the left. They could remove the upper one in the photo, on the right, but the lower one has to stay, at least as a guard, because the stairs are open higher than 30 inches.
    That would be the correct fix.

    So then you'd have a partial, i.e., not-full-length, hand rail on the right.
    Not really as the top of the guard *MAY* be used as a handrail but is not required to be, thus there would really only be *one handrail* with your above correction, and that handrail would be the new one on the right descending.

    You have got the correct and proper fix right there.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: non-continuous hand rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Frederickson View Post
    but if not, it very likely would fall under the IBC and a handrail would be required on both sides.

    If not within a dwelling unit the entire stair would be wrong, not just the handrail.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: non-continuous hand rail

    It is not a shared stairway. Two story condo.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Philadelphia PA
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    Default Thanks fer yer support.

    I appreciate the help, guys.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

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