Results 1 to 29 of 29

Thread: SHIPS LADDER

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    574

    Default SHIPS LADDER

    This is a picture of a ships ladder to a "widows walk" on the roof of a Multi-million dollar home. It was built less than 10 years ago and was fully permitted.

    I often see this type of stair for "widows walks" or for "sleeping lofts" in summer cottages and wonder if and where the code allows for these type stairs. (I'm assuming that the code allows, since I see soo... many of these permitted and approved by AHJ).

    I also feel that I should add language to my report as a "CYA" comment, but I don't think I should write it up as a safety issue, since sooo many of these structures have been approved and exist in my area.

    Any thoughts or suggestions for me?

    Similar Threads:
    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    Member Benefits1

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    If its been approved and its not a safety concern, why even bother mentioning it?


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    1,828

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    I would write up the safety issue no matter what. That leaves you out of the equation when one of their drunk friends or kids falls down them.
    They do not comply with any stair safety guidelines in the book and the owner should be made aware of that.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
    Posts
    1,363

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    The most I would say, if anything, is to use with caution. Is that the proper term for that ladder? It sounds good to me.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    574

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Thanks for your fast responses. As I read the comments. I keep thinking that I need to add some sort "CYA" to protect myself, but I guess it is a ladder and NOT stairs.

    Is there a difference? and when can a ladder be used instead of stairs. What are its' requirements.


  6. #6
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
    Richard Stanley Guest

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Ditto Wayne. Tell 'em about it.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    I would write up the safety issue no matter what. That leaves you out of the equation when one of their drunk friends or kids falls down them.
    They do not comply with any stair safety guidelines in the book and the owner should be made aware of that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Stanley View Post
    Ditto Wayne. Tell 'em about it.
    Correct, write it up as a non-conforming stair (that *is* what that is) and the code requires *all* stairs to conform to the requirements for stairs and there are no code allowed exceptions for 'ladders'.

    Then list the things wrong with it: tread depth, riser height, headroom, handrails, guards, etc.

    Wayne put it well: "That leaves you out of the equation when ... "

    You get to fill in the blank for anything and everything which might happen.

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    574

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Hold-on a minute folks. I'm not convinced that we need code conforming stairs.

    If these were stairs then they must comply with stair requirements BUT, I'm thinking that stairs are not required to access these spaces. They are not used as a means for building egress. (Can anyone show me WHERE stairs are required for a "widows walk" platform?)

    These are not stairs and stairs are not required to access those areas.
    Look at other instances where code conforming stairs are not required.

    1. You can use have a bulkhead stair that doesn't comply with staircase code requirements.
    2. You can also have a window well for basement bedrooms that uses a ladder within the well, which also doesn't conform to stairway requirements.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Hold-on a minute folks. I'm not convinced that we need code conforming stairs.

    If these were stairs then they must comply with stair requirements BUT, I'm thinking that stairs are not required to access these spaces.
    You are correct to that one point: "stairs" *are not required* to access those spaces.

    However ... once the stairs are installed, the "stairs" *ARE NOT REQUIRED* to comply with stairs.

    Could you have used a proper pull-down ladder to access THE ROOF? Sure.

    But you called THE ROOF a "Widow's Walk", which would be a "deck" on the roof, which means "STAIRS" are required, code conforming stairs, with handrails, with guards, and the Widow's Walk would also require code conforming guards.

    The difference is that a ROOF is not anticipated to have people walking up to it or around on it, a real Widow's Walk is, and you then need to give them proper access and egress - egress in two directions, one of which can be 'off the roof', i.e., 'be rescued by' rescue personnel from a ladder truck. What if they are up on the roof and there is a fire below? Their second egress (meaning the "stair" is the first egress) is 'off the roof'.

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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Why do you think its called a Widows Walk?


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
    Posts
    1,363

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Based upon some of the comments here, I will assume that some of you will write up safety concerns for attic pulldown stairs or steps into a crawl space.

    Seriously, what percentage of your reports is dedicated solely to protecting yourselves?
    What percentage has information that the client actually finds useful?
    At what point does the report begin to serve the inspector more than the client?

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Eric

    Thats a very good question. I see more and more inspectors commenting on safety issues. The problem all be it noble to call out safety is that you are pretty much opening yourself up to call out every single safety related item to scrutiny by the courts. In my opinion if you start calling out safety issues you had better be damn sure you catch them all in order to cover your arse.

    Sometimes I think common sense is in such sort supply and some are so cautious they try and cover all manner of issues in order to sleep better, but the fact remains do you really need to caution someone as to use of a ladder that has been approved by the AHJ and which looks precarious to begin with?


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Based upon some of the comments here, I will assume that some of you will write up safety concerns for attic pulldown stairs or steps into a crawl space.

    Eric,

    I would equate a "roof access" ladder equivalent to your attic pulldown ladder, ... wait, ... in fact I already did do that.

    I would NOT equate a "Widow's Walk" access ladder equivalent to your attic pulldown ladder ... wait ... in fact I already did NOT do that too.

    You really need to compare apples to apples and not apple to oranges. Only then will your arguments hold water ... or does that make us comparing watermelons?

    The main differences are one IS INTENDED to be accessed by the occupants regularly as a deck and IS PROVIDED a PERMANENT access while the other is NOT intended to be accessed regularly as a deck and is NOT provided with a permanent access.

    BIG DIFFERENCE between those two.

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

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    1,828

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Based upon some of the comments here, I will assume that some of you will write up safety concerns for attic pulldown stairs or steps into a crawl space.

    Erik, yes, for the most part, even though I agree with your statement or underlying meaning.
    If I see something that could be a hazard I note it in the report. Only I look at it as protecting my client. In that way I protect myself.
    They don't look at a house the way we do and sometimes we forget that.
    I am sure a client would appreciate a comment about stair safety in a case like this rather than no comment at all.
    As well as in this case,
    I recommend that a secondary means of escape off the widows walk be installed to allow escape off the platform in case of a fire.
    Then I would add a link like this fire escape ladders and home security and escape to safety


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    191

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    If I recall, older versions of IRC (or BOCA) allowed alternating tread stairways, but never ship's ladders. IBC says:

    1009.11 Stairway to roof.


    In buildings located four or more stories in height above grade plane, one stairway shall extend to the roof surface, unless the roof has a slope steeper than four units vertical in 12 units horizontal (33-percent slope). In buildings without an occupied roof, access to the roof from the top story shall be permitted to be by an alternating tread device.

    An alternating tread stairway is prohibited in the IBC from being used to access/egress an occupied roof. It is allowed for mezzanines that are no more than 250 s.f. in area.

    I agree that a widow's walk (AKA widow's watch), is no different than a deck and should have a code-complying stairway. They probably should have used a spiral stairway or they might have been able to convince the AHJ that an alternating stairway should be permitted, even though not specifically allowed in IRC. Keep in mind that the local AHJ might be using a different version of the code (or, in some jurisdictions, no code at all), and/or might have the authority to waive the code requirements or there might have been a variance issued. But, I agree, that it's not a bad idea to point out the dangers of this type of stairway (ladder).

    I disagree regarding the need for a second means of agress from the deck, provided that there is a code complying stairway. A second means of egress isn't required from an upper floor of a house, so why would you need one from a deck? You're already outside. True, it would be nice to have one (or an emergency ladder), but it's not a requirement, any more than it's a requirement in any room off of an upper second floor. Pointing it out as a recommendation isn't a bad idea, but do you also recommend it on all floors without 2nd means of egress?


    Last edited by Steve Frederickson; 09-06-2009 at 12:54 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Wayne wrote:

    I recommend that a secondary means of escape off the widows walk be installed to allow escape off the platform in case of a fire.
    No offence but are you serious? So now the issue of secondary means of escape is possibly going to become a deal blower?


  17. #17
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Last year I oversaw the construction of a large house in Arlington, TX for a retired American Airlines Pilot. He purchased these stairs from the company once they decommissioned one of their first 747s. The AHJ approved the installation, so I just deferred to his infinite wisdom, along with several comments about their not being even close to code-compliant.

    Sorry for the pre-install photo, I'm just not interested in climbing into the attic for the post-install stuff.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  18. #18
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    This might be better:

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Frederickson View Post
    A second means of egress isn't required from an upper floor of a house, so why would you need one from a deck?


    I've never seen a house greater than 1 story in height which DID NOT HAVE a secondary means of escape, i.e., that does not mean a door or a second stairway, it simply means a second means of escape or rescue, which is what I pointed out and why I point out that ...

    You're already outside.

    ... and that is your second means of escape or rescue.

    Notice that you are saying a second means of "egress" and I am saying a second means of "escape or rescue" - a big difference between the two.

    You and I seem to be on the same page as the Widow's Watch or Widow's Walk and it being intended for use as a deck and is intended to be occupied, whereas others are trying to relate it to an attic which *IS NOT* intended to be used as ANY "occupied area", it is for storage only, *IF* even that (many attics have some portion suitable for storage, many attics have no portion suitable for storage).

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

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    1,828

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Ray, a recommendation for a secondary means of escape should not be a deal breaker, but mabey that's the difference in our perspective.
    I am trying to save a client and you are trying to save a deal!

    Things get too misconstrued on this site. too many codes that are not used in our report but are used in real life, and all that. besides all the stuff I can't even remember.
    I respect your opinion and agree. where does it end?


  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Thanks Wayne, very valid points, and yes where does it end?

    Cheers,


  22. #22
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    Ray, a recommendation for a secondary means of escape should not be a deal breaker, but mabey that's the difference in our perspective.
    I am trying to save a client and you are trying to save a deal!

    Things get too misconstrued on this site. too many codes that are not used in our report but are used in real life, and all that. besides all the stuff I can't even remember.
    I respect your opinion and agree. where does it end?

    A second floor of almost any home today has one stairway going up or down. The only other means of escape is a window.........

    You don't even need a window on a deck. Instead of jumping out the window and breaking your leg or neck you can just jump over the edge of the deck rail and do the same thing. Not seeing much difference here.

    Stair..Pull down stairs...mention the safety issue. No need to go into lengthly details at all.


  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    1,828

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Ted, Most local fire departments recommend installing safety escape ladders from second floor bedrooms, correct? So what I was trying to relate was that adding in the safety recommendation is a good idea in my opinion, especially since a platform on a roof is not a typical component of a home and since it is not, people may tend to overlook safety concerns that you and I would not.


  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,549

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    Ted, Most local fire departments recommend installing safety escape ladders from second floor bedrooms, correct? So what I was trying to relate was that adding in the safety recommendation is a good idea in my opinion, especially since a platform on a roof is not a typical component of a home and since it is not, people may tend to overlook safety concerns that you and I would not.
    I'd like to add here the difference between a widow's walk and a second story window. From the window, you can jump straight into a safety net in full view of the rescue people below. Jumping over the rail of a widow's walk, you land on the roof, probably a very steep roof, and nobody below can see you trying to escape till you come sliding over the edge. Nothing wrong with recommending a rope ladder, IMO.

    The steep stairs, I'd give a comment like "steep stairs, use with caution."


  25. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, FL
    Posts
    180

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Have seen several ships ladders in the last 15 years; they are much more substantial than the ordinary garage type pull down stairs. Code or no code would you also write up the ordinary type. Better and safer than using a step ladder with a scuttle access. Do agree with the comment "when do we CYA at the expense of the client" afterall just because a kitchen has a stove do you write it up because someone could get burned. Best to keep your comments general; if is broke or unsefe wright it up, don't try to fix things which out of the scope of an inspection. Inspected a really old house in SC several years back that had a ships ladder leading to 10 small rooms in the attic where the owner was housing illegal immigrants could hardly wait ot get out of there; the list of items to repair, replace or correct was pages. The ladder had a system of pullys and weights it was relly cool, I wanted to take it home!

    Tom McKay
    ASHI
    Melbourne, FL


  26. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    1,828

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    can we go to the galley now? i'm thirsty


  27. #27
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, FL
    Posts
    180

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Hay Wayne,

    Happy Labor Day!!!!


  28. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    1,828

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    Same to you Tom, Getting windy down there yet?


  29. #29
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, FL
    Posts
    180

    Default Re: SHIPS LADDER

    The wind blew and the BS flew I could't see for a momet or two but things got clear once we got close to shore! Was a great weekend; hope yours was just as good. Did take advantage of the ships ladder on my boat yesterday.

    Tom McKay
    ASHI
    Glad to be in Melbourne, FL


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •