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Thread: Garage Stairs

  1. #1
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    Default Garage Stairs

    If there are stairs from the garage into the house, are all of the same code requirements in place, even if you can get into the house without using the steps. These were only 29" wide. Other than that, they were pretty close to compliant.

    There was no problem at the front steps into the house.

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    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    Curent width requirment for stairs is 36".


    R311.5 Stairways.
    R311.5.1Width.
    Stairways shall not be less than 36 inches
    (914 mm) in clear width at all points above the permitted
    handrail height and below the required headroom height.
    Handrails shall not project more than 4.5 inches (114 mm)
    on either side of the stairway and the minimum clear width
    of the stairway at and below the handrail height, including
    treads and landings, shall not be less than 31.5 inches (787
    mm) where a handrail is installed on one side and 27 inches

    (698 mm) where handrails are provided on both sides.


    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    I was aware of that. I was wondering if there is any exception for when there is an alternate staircase, such as when there are spiral stairs leading to an area that is also accessible via a traditional stairway.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    I was aware of that. I was wondering if there is any exception for when there is an alternate staircase, such as when there are spiral stairs leading to an area that is also accessible via a traditional stairway.
    I'm thinking that stairs is stairs and if you got 'em they supposed to be built right, irregardless if you also got some other ones what go to the same place.

    I mean, it's largely, if not entirely, about safety. Why would the authorities let you build any stairs in an unsafe manner?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    I think I was confusing some of the exceptions for the spiral with something else. There were two other problems with the garage stairs that I forgot about, so I just wrote up the whole thing. Let the weekend begin!

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    I'm thinking that stairs is stairs and if you got 'em they supposed to be built right,...

    We built a house that had an area we squeezed a set of steps in that lead to the attic (not an unfinished second floor just an attic) in lieu of a pull down attic stairs, the treads and risers we 9" each with a wall rail. AHJ made me take them out even after the homeowner made the case that the stairs were easier to climb, more stable and safer than a pull down stairs, AHJ said that we could use an extension ladder for access, but if the stairs were to be used they had to meet code.

    I guess it would have been easier to say I agree with John Arnold.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    are all of the same code requirements in place,

    I'll give the simple answer: "Yes. As per the building codes. Which do address different stairs differently, i.e., spiral stairs, winders, and the like, but if not listed with special requirements then the main requirements apply."

    Even winder treads are covered in, and must meet, the requirements of R311.5.3 Stair treads and risers.

    The only stairs which have other allowances are: (underlining and bold are mine)
    - R311.5.8 Special stairways. Spiral stairways and bulkhead enclosure stairways shall comply with all requirements of Section R311.5 except as specified below.
    - - R311.5.8.1 Spiral stairways. Spiral stairways are permitted, provided the minimum width shall be 26 inches (660 mm) with each tread having a 71/2-inches (190 mm) minimum tread depth at 12 inches from the narrower edge. All treads shall be identical, and the rise shall be no more than 91/2 inches (241 mm). A minimum headroom of 6 feet 6 inches (1982 mm) shall be provided.
    - - R311.5.8.2 Bulkhead enclosure stairways. Stairways serving bulkhead enclosures, not part of the required building egress, providing access from the outside grade level to the basement shall be exempt from the requirements of Sections R311.4.3 and R311.5 where the maximum height from the basement finished floor level to grade adjacent to the stairway does not exceed 8 feet (2438 mm), and the grade level opening to the stairway is covered by a bulkhead enclosure with hinged doors or other approved means.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    If there are stairs from the garage into the house, are all of the same code requirements in place...
    I'm sure you have even considered fire (door) codes in the scenario.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    My failing memory says that the old BOCA code (several editions ago) had the provision that all "required egress" stairs must comply with the tread/riser/width requirements. Therefore, if it wasn't a required egress stair, you could theortically build anything (ladders, etc.). That has changed. Now, if you build it, they will come...and possibly fall, so it must coply with the stair requirements.

    This brings up an old debate that I'm hesitant to start again. What about site or landscaping stairs? In my opinion, they're no different and must comply. If you build it, they will come...and possibly fall.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Knauff View Post
    I'm sure you have even considered fire (door) codes in the scenario.
    The door is not a fire door.

    Remember, that wall is only a "separation" wall, not at "fire" wall, thus the door does not have to be a "fire" door, it simply has to be one of the options listed for doors. Yes, *one* of the options is to use a 20 minute fire-resistance rated door, but that *is not a required* option - you could also use a 1 hour rated door, but again, not a required option ... you can use a simple 1-3/8 inch thick solid wood slab door - does not even need self-closing hinges.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The door is not a fire door.

    Remember, that wall is only a "separation" wall, not at "fire" wall, thus the door does not have to be a "fire" door, it simply has to be one of the options listed for doors. Yes, *one* of the options is to use a 20 minute fire-resistance rated door, but that *is not a required* option - you could also use a 1 hour rated door, but again, not a required option ... you can use a simple 1-3/8 inch thick solid wood slab door - does not even need self-closing hinges.
    Yes, but a hollow core door would not conform, so there ARE minimum requirements. Exceed them if you wish but meet the minimum.

    ...does not even need self-closing hinges.
    Sadly that is true. One thing that defies logic is why they removed the requirement for self closing devices. The devices not only help keep out fire and smoke but lethal CO from automobile exhaust as well. I still highly recommend them as a safety upgrade to clients for the CO reason, but that's food for another thread.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Garage Stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Knauff View Post
    Yes, but a hollow core door would not conform, so there ARE minimum requirements. Exceed them if you wish but meet the minimum.
    Not sure why you seem to be implying that I said there were no minimum requirements as I SPECIFICALLY stated some of the minimum requirements??

    I simply stated that A FIRE DOOR IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

    Sadly that is true. One thing that defies logic is why they removed the requirement for self closing devices.
    There is no requirement for self-closing doors BECAUSE the door is not required to be a fire door. Nothing sad about that. The door is just like any other door from the thermal envelope of the house to areas outside the thermal envelope ... should the front door have self-closing hinges? Should the sliding glass door have a self-closing mechanism?

    Remember, code is "MINIMUM", and "MINIMUM" does not require a self-closing door, nor does it require a fire door, nor does it require a fire-resistance rated assembly for the wall, nor does it require ... the list could be endless.

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

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