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  1. #1
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    Default When is a step required ?

    Ok, before I ask my question, I do (at least I think I do) know all the riser and depth requirements for a step.

    Question:

    Entrance into the garage has a difference of about 9" from the floor of the house to the floor of the garage, I really don't think I can code wise tell them a step is needed, all I can do is point out a potential tripping hazard.

    Anyone know of a maximum height before a step is required ?, I can only find OSHA requirements, and this is residential.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: When is a step required ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Reilly View Post
    Ok, before I ask my question, I do (at least I think I do) know all the riser and depth requirements for a step.
    First things first: there is no "step" in the code (well, sort of ... see below). There is "riser", "stair", "stairway" and "flight".

    From the IRC.
    - R202 (bold and underlining are mine, that is where "step" is, but only "stair" is defined)
    - - [RB] Flight. A continuous run of rectangular treads or winders or combination thereof from one landing to another.
    - - [RB] Riser (Stair). The vertical component of a step or stair.
    - - [RB] Stair. A change in elevation, consisting of one or more risers.
    - - [RB] Stairway. One or more flights of stairs, either interior or exterior, with the necessary landings and connecting platforms to form a continuous and uninterrupted passage from one level to another.

    Question:

    Entrance into the garage has a difference of about 9" from the floor of the house to the floor of the garage, ...
    That is a "stair" by definition "A change in elevation, consisting of one or more risers."

    I really don't think I can code wise tell them a step is needed, all I can do is point out a potential tripping hazard.
    That change in elevation is a stair. That vertical change in elevation is the "riser" by definition, and risers have a maximum riser height:

    Anyone know of a maximum height before a step is required ?, I can only find OSHA requirements, and this is residential.
    - R311.7.5.1 Risers.
    - - The riser height shall be not more than 7-3/4" inches (196 mm). (blah, blah, blah)
    - - - Exceptions:
    - - - - 1. (blah, blah, blah)
    - - - - 2. The riser height of spiral stairways shall be in accordance with Section R311.7.10.1.

    I recommend revamping the mental thinking to the terms of: stair; stairway; riser (riser is height of elevation change); tread (tread is the depth of where the foot lands on) ... and do away with the term "step".

    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: When is a step required ?

    Thanks Jerry,

    So my understanding is that a riser should not be more than 7 3/4" high (I knew that ), and my riser is 9", so I should suggest a stair be installed, or at least point it out as a potential tripping hazard.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: When is a step required ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Reilly View Post
    ... and my riser is 9", so I should suggest a stair be installed,
    Joe, what I was trying to point out what that a 'stair was already installed', and that the stair is not code compliant as the riser is greater than 7-3/4".

    or at least point it out as a potential tripping hazard.
    You can definitely point out that it is a trip and fall hazard, but that the stair (the stair is already there) needs to brought into compliance with maximum riser height in the code for minimum required level of safety, albeit it that does not make it "safe" (there is a big difference between being "safe" and meeting the "minimum required level of safety in the code"), which means two things need to happen:

    a) a landing at that door needs to be installed on each side of the door (I presume that there already is a landing/floor on the inside of the door); and

    b) that the too-high-riser needs to be addressed most likely by adding another riser (splitting the 9" riser into two 4-1/2' risers) while keeping the two risers within the maximum 3/8" difference between the two riser heights.

    The landing is what typically creates the big issues as the landing needs to be at least the same width as the door, and needs to be a minimum of 3 feet in front of the door. Then ... there would be a riser down to a tread, with another riser down to the landing/floor at the bottom of the stair.

    And those two treads will add about another 22" minimum to the 36" minimum landing, or 58" minimum out in front of the door (unless the landing is in front of the door and the stair - risers and treads - go down from one side of the landing to take less room away from the garage parking area). The configuration of the stair (straight or turned) will depend on the size and layout of the garage and the location of the door.

    If the garage is not on the kind of larger side, or the door is in the middle, or both, and other things too - the 'two car garage' may become a 'one car + golf cart garage'.

    Added with edit: does the door from the house to the garage swing into the house or into the garage?

    - R311.3.2 Floor elevations at other exterior doors.
    - - Doors other than the required egress door shall be provided with landings or floors not more than 7-3/4 inches (196 mm) below the top of the threshold.
    - - - Exception: A top landing is not required where a stairway of not more than two risers is located on the exterior side of the door, provided that the door does not swing over the stairway.


    - R311.7.6 Landings for stairways.
    - - There shall be a floor or landing at the top and bottom of each stairway. (blah, blah, blah)
    - - - Exception: A floor or landing is not required at the top of an interior flight of stairs, including in an enclosed garage, provided that a door does not swich over the stairs.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 01-05-2022 at 05:08 PM. Reason: added last part
    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: When is a step required ?

    I'm speculating about ways Joe's client might reduce the amount of forward real estate required by turning, even using a ramp. If I read the IRC correctly, this could mean a 36x36 ramp in front of the door, and then perhaps a ramp at 90 degrees(?) 108 inches long along the common wall, ending in another 36x36 landing. Or instead of stairs descending straight into the garage, the door opening onto a ramp and the itty-bitty stairs coming off at 90 degrees etc, for 36 inch taken out of the depth of the garage, albeit 72+44 inches along the wall.

    How about R311.3.2 Exception, if the door were hinged to swing in: two or fewer risers, no landing needed.

    I'm not sure that it would even need to be that deep, R311.3: 36 inches "in the direction of travel."
    Now I have seen plenty of attached garages whose vehicles nose near the common wall, so adding just 22 inches more kills a parking space.


    All this is based on the 2012 IRC and zero experience applying it.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: When is a step required ?

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    How about R311.3.2 Exception, if the door were hinged to swing in: two or fewer risers, no landing needed.
    Which is why I asked that question about which way the door swung. Most, but not all, swing inward toward the living area, however, I have seen some which have swung outward toward the garage.

    If the door swings inward, then two risers will be needed due to the 9" riser exceeding the code, and the two risers would need to be within 3/6" of each other (thus the two 4-1/2" risers I mentioned).

    The least space which would be lost would be 11" for the tread between the two risers ... 4-1/2" riser down from the top of the threshold above, an 11" tread (as there would not be a 1" nosing, and it there is a 1" nosing, the tread depth is measured from front of nosing to front of nosing, thus a 10" tread with a 1" nosing would still take up 11").

    And (by code) a landing is required at the bottom of the stair, with the landing being the width of the stair by minimum 3 feet in front of the stair, thereby losing a total of 47" (yeah, I know, who is going to be there to police anyone from parking in that "landing" area - no one ... but just because no one is going to write someone up for parking there does not mean that the landing area does not need to be there - that will be decided by the judge when someone goes down those stairs and trips/falls because there was no landing space for them to land on).

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 01-06-2022 at 03:39 PM. Reason: typo 4-1/4" riser should have been 4-1/2" risers just like the second one was
    Jerry Peck
    Construction Litigation Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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