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  1. #1
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    Default Violations of code

    Hi,
    I believe this stairway in a house is in violation of the building code when it was constructed in Laguna Beach, California in 2004. I am not exactly sure of the date of construction, it could have been later, but how are houses constructed in violation? How is that allowed? When should this putative violation have been discovered and corrected, or is it possibly excepted?

    I am an attorney and my client fell down this set of stairs. Any help would be appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    You will need better pictures than this to get any help here.
    You'll probably need a local expert witness as well, which shouldn't be hard to find in California.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Jon, Is it that the stairs need a railing ? Problem with the rise or run of the stairs ?

    How and why is a matter of the original permit process unless things were altered from the original permits and occupancy permit.

    You have too speak with the local permit office or find an expert to offer their opinion if you are going to court.

    Could the original inspection process permitted the stairs as they are now ? Yes, if they received the occupancy permit. Why, you have to talk to the original permit inspector. Do you have access to the original plans? There could have been a railing that was removed after receiving the occupancy permit.

    Reoriented the OP picture to prevent vertigo and neck strain or possibly mitigate the trauma when you fall out of your chair leaning sideways to view picture.

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    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 06-08-2017 at 02:06 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Jon, Is it that the stairs need a railing ? Problem with the rise or run of the stairs ?

    How and why is a matter of the original permit process unless things were altered from the original permits and occupancy permit.

    You have too speak with the local permit office or find an expert to offer their opinion if you are going to court.

    Could the original inspection process permitted the stairs as they are now ? Yes, if they received the occupancy permit. Why, you have to talk to the original permit inspector. Do you have access to the original plans? There could have been a railing that was removed after receiving the occupancy permit.
    maybe they were removed?
    We build things all the time that pass an inspection or all inspections and should never pass... happens. Most of these buys are really really good at one trade, but not so much at others or are lazy

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc M View Post
    maybe they were removed?
    Which, in and of itself, does not make it a 'non-violation' ... all that altering a code compliant installation does is ... make it non-code compliant.

    First and foremost, the removal of a code compliant item without a permit is a violation.

    Second, albeit that the code allows a legally standing (permitted, approved, etc) building to remain to the code it was built and not have to met new codes when new codes are adopted, that means 'it is allowed to remain as it was', not in some modified or altered form ... it may no longer be legally standing or legally occupiable.

    Just sayin' ... we need to not close our eyes to the conditions 'as they are'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    - get ahold of AHJ and find out which Code was in force in 2004
    - review that Code for stairs and see what was the standard in 2004
    - do a FOIA with the AHJ for the house
    - try to find documentation, i.e. past pictures, of the house, maybe past listing photos to establish if and when those stairs were in place
    - go from there
    It is unlikely the stairs are going to be your hammer. The lack of handrails along the stairs will likely be your most productive strategy. Beyond that you could get picky and try to figure out what that finish / coating is on the stairs, looks kind of slick, and whether it is designed or approved for use on stairs.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Koehle View Post
    Hi,
    I believe this stairway in a house is in violation of the building code when it was constructed in Laguna Beach, California in 2004. I am not exactly sure of the date of construction, it could have been later, but how are houses constructed in violation? How is that allowed? When should this putative violation have been discovered and corrected, or is it possibly excepted?

    I am an attorney and my client fell down this set of stairs. Any help would be appreciated.
    Hi Jon,

    I own a building inspection company in Laguna Beach. BUYERS PROFILE. I can help you and your client. I am code certified ICC #1012329.

    Best,
    Bruce R White
    buyersprofile.com

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Koehle View Post
    Hi,
    I believe this stairway in a house is in violation of the building code when it was constructed in Laguna Beach, California in 2004. I am not exactly sure of the date of construction, it could have been later, but how are houses constructed in violation? How is that allowed? When should this putative violation have been discovered and corrected, or is it possibly excepted?

    I am an attorney and my client fell down this set of stairs. Any help would be appreciated.
    Hi Jon,

    I own a building inspection company in Laguna Beach. BUYERS PROFILE. I can help you and your client. I am code certified ICC #1012329.

    Best,
    Bruce R White
    buyersprofile.com


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Koehle View Post
    Hi,
    I believe this stairway in a house is in violation of the building code when it was constructed in Laguna Beach, California in 2004...

    Why? What code does it violate? How?

    (Also, interesting cropping/angle on pictures: is that a countertop on the righthand side of the pictures?)


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by richard champlin View Post
    Why? What code does it violate? How?
    There is an obvious one which all should be able to see and pick out - here is a hint: how many risers are there in that stair?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Jerry, Richard was pointing out the wording by Jon, " I believe this stairway in a house is in violation of the building code when it was constructed...", meaning that Jon knows something about code. Richard was questioning what Jon felt was code deficient. I think Richard wanted to see what Jon really knows as a starting point of explanation.

    Have to love the use of "putative violation" . Don't see that here very often, a first I think.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Have to love the use of "putative violation" . Don't see that here very often, a first I think.
    Garry,

    Agreed, but keep in mind that Jon is an attorney and rather that specifically stating that 'this violation', he said (in lawyer speak) 'this generally considered violation' (but I am sure you already knew that).

    I just considered it 'careful wording' on Jon's part so as not to be called out as 'what violation?'

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

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Jerry, Richard was pointing out the wording by Jon, " I believe this stairway in a house is in violation of the building code when it was constructed...", meaning that Jon knows something about code. Richard was questioning what Jon felt was code deficient. I think Richard wanted to see what Jon really knows as a starting point of explanation.

    Have to love the use of "putative violation" . Don't see that here very often, a first I think.
    Yes, I was.

    Also, I *don't* know the current or previous code in Laguna Beach...but I have seen some local codes that use (used) "treads" instead of "risers".

    Here's a quick example: "[A handrail shall:] Not be required for stairways having three (3) or fewer treads serving individual dwelling units."

    http://www.dalycity.org/Page189.aspx


    And I have also seen specific installations (taking various ambiguities as a whole) where the overall impact of the installation was migating.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by richard champlin View Post
    Yes, I was.

    Also, I *don't* know the current or previous code in Laguna Beach...but I have seen some local codes that use (used) "treads" instead of "risers".
    ..........................
    We have 24 counties in Maryland and each has their own code requirements. Then there are a few towns that have their own in addition to the county that their in. Code like real estate value is all about location, location, location.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Koehle View Post
    ..........When should this putative violation have been discovered and corrected, or is it possibly excepted? ................
    This is somewhat of an interesting question.
    If the house passed all permit inspections and received the occupancy permit and the owners didn't know right from wrong, discovery has no length of time. It would be the first time someone said it is wrong.

    Who has liability for what does not meet code.
    Are the original owners liable ???
    Subsequent owners that were not informed that there was a code issue, are they liable ???
    Is the builder liable ??
    The person that sign off on the permit liable ??
    The person that review the plans that were submitted for a building permit liable ???
    The Professional at a party that knew it was wrong yet did not say anything to the owners, is he liable ???

    Correction : Need to proof read better before submitting postings. Liable instead of Libel.

    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 06-26-2017 at 03:13 AM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    This is somewhat of an interesting question.
    If the house passed all permit inspections and received the occupancy permit and the owners didn't know right from wrong, discovery has no length of time. It would be the first time someone said it is wrong.

    Who has liability for what does not meet code.
    Are the original owners libel???
    Subsequent owners that were not informed that there was a code issue, are they libel???
    Is the builder libel???
    The person that sign off on the permit libel???
    The person that review the plans that were submitted for a building permit libel???
    The Professional at a party that knew it was wrong yet did not say anything to the owners, is he libel???
    liable...


  16. #16

    Default Re: Non compliance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Koehle View Post
    Hi,
    I believe this stairway in a house is in violation of the building code when it was constructed in Laguna Beach, California in 2004. I am not exactly sure of the date of construction, it could have been later, but how are houses constructed in violation? How is that allowed? When should this putative violation have been discovered and corrected, or is it possibly excepted?

    I am an attorney and my client fell down this set of stairs. Any help would be appreciated.
    Jon,
    Residential construction code using the UBC has been in effect for many years on the West Coast with little variance in dimensional requirements. Even with the later founding from BOCA combined Eastern Codes developed by the International Code Council, most IRC adopted code construction rules for stairwells still apply as found in the UBC. Either way, local codes adopted by an AHJ are unlikely to vary in basic detail. (I.e. hand rails required for stairs having 6 risers, riser heights to be within 1/4" of each other, etc.)
    Instances of life's additional human variables fall under civil laws or codes not established in UBC or IRC rules for a litigator environment. The jurisdiction sets the local dictated codes for ascertaining the combined compatible compliance. JMO

    - - - Updated - - -

    Last edited by Ben Jacks; 06-08-2017 at 03:26 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Who has liability for what does not meet code.
    .
    Subsequent owners that were not informed that there was a code issue, are they libel???
    Is the builder libel???
    .
    .
    .
    Yes to the above persons:
    - The *current* owners (and their insurance company if there is one) are the responsible party.
    - The contractor (the "builder" is a "contractor") ... if it falls within the time limits in statute of that state.
    - (not stated) The architect/engineer/designer ... if it falls within the time limits in statute of the state.

    No ... to the others.

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

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Thank you all for your input and responses. Updates:

    I got a very laconic response from the Laguna Beach "Building Official" saying that "any stairway with four or more risers would require at least one handrail."

    The house was built in 2002.

    I also discovered that Laguna adopted the 1997 Uniform Housing Code which is very vague with very few regulations. They currently have adopted the California Residential Code which has the four risers or more requirement in section R311.7.8. I'm not sure how the two relate to each other.

    UHC: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/conten...ingcode_hp.pdf

    CRC (bad HTML version but ctrl-f searchable): https://archive.org/stream/gov.ca.bs....02.5_djvu.txt

    The stairway is next to a kitchen counter top. The stairs are six inches tall each. I don't see in the code any exceptions that would apply. It is a very large house that has been used as a rental property in the past but also as a primary residence. I don't know about the lacquer used or regulations on that.

    I've left a few messages trying to go through the process to get a copy of the building permit.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Koehle View Post
    Thank you all for your input and responses. Updates:
    I got a very laconic response from the Laguna Beach "Building Official" saying that "any stairway with four or more risers would require at least one handrail."
    The house was built in 2002.
    I also discovered that Laguna adopted the 1997 Uniform Housing Code which is very vague with very few regulations. They currently have adopted the California Residential Code which has the four risers or more requirement in section R311.7.8. I'm not sure how the two relate to each other.
    UHC: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/conten...ingcode_hp.pdf
    CRC (bad HTML version but ctrl-f searchable): https://archive.org/stream/gov.ca.bs....02.5_djvu.txt
    The stairway is next to a kitchen counter top. The stairs are six inches tall each. I don't see in the code any exceptions that would apply. It is a very large house that has been used as a rental property in the past but also as a primary residence. I don't know about the lacquer used or regulations on that.
    I've left a few messages trying to go through the process to get a copy of the building permit.
    Hi Jon,

    To the best of my knowledge, California adopts the building codes statewide, not by city or county. However, cities and counties do, on occasion, add to the codes. The real problem is determining which code was enforced when the permit for the house was pulled. I believe the building code that was enforced in CA after November 2002 was the 2001 California Building Code which was based on the 1997 Uniform Building Code. If the permit was issued prior to November 2001, then the code was probably the 1998 CBC - based on the 1994 UBC. I think the best information regarding which code was being enforced would be through the California Building Standards Commission that regulates Title 24.

    Unfortunately, my 1997 and 1994 UBCs are in storage right now, so I cannot look up the code reference. Also, at that time, California did not have a separate residential code and the UBC used exceptions for residential construction. I believe the wording of the exception somewhere in chapter 10 (paraphrasing) was that a handrail was not required in residential construction when there were less than four risers.

    If that is the case, a handrail would have been required when the house was constructed in 2002.

    Kind of convoluted, I know. I hope I got it right.

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    The statute of limitations allows ten years for defective construction. At this point the only person that the owner can sue is the owner.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by richard champlin View Post
    liable...
    For getting involved, I'd say Garry is liable, but that would be 'libel'.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    For getting involved, I'd say Garry is liable, but that would be 'libel'.
    I accept the castigation for lack of proof reading and hold all harmless for any libel,,,

    Not a defense for usage, but I am archaic at time and my phraseology was incorrect.

    "1a : a written statement in which a plaintiff in certain courts sets forth the cause of action or the relief sought " https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/libel


  23. #23

    Default Re: Violations of code

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    You will need better pictures than this to get any help here.
    You'll probably need a local expert witness as well, which shouldn't be hard to find in California.
    I agree that these pictures are not very clear

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    You will need better pictures than this to get any help here.
    You'll probably need a local expert witness as well, which shouldn't be hard to find in California.
    I agree that these pictures are not very clear


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Violations of code

    Maybe this image is better .

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