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  1. #1
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    Default 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    I have been trying to locate code requirements for stair installations in 1976, without success. Does anyone know what the UBC required for stair installation. Tread height, width, handrails, guards, the whole nine yards. Hopefully someone can help out.

    Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    I have been trying to locate code requirements for stair installations in 1976,
    Mathew,

    My first question is: Why?

    To inspect by?

    Don't use those old standards, standards have changed ... because safety has advanced, 'safety' does not recognize 'well, it met code when it was constructed' - no, 'safety' only knows today, the here and now when it strikes.

    Or for educational information purposes?

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    JP,

    Because he wants to build a "retro" stairway. Get with the program.

    UBC used minimum 9" tread and maximum 8" riser for years. Not sure if that goes all the way back to '76. I believe they had max 9" spacing on railings and 30" high on handrails. Guardrails, I believe were 36.

    Unfortunately, I got rid of all of my old code books. You might try a large local library or possibly a local builders' association. My area has the "Builders Exchange" and they used to keep a lot of older codes.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Mathew
    This is from rote memory, but I believe accurate.
    1976 UBC: R-3 Stairs; max riser 8", min tread 9"; Handrail height vertically from tread nosing; 30" minimum, 34 maximum, 36" min. stair width; 3/8” max difference in riser & tread dimensions.

    Guardrail: 36 min. height, open space between intermediate rails (balusters) so that a sphere 12" could not pass through; Handrail codes basically the same dimensions max & min as today's code.

    Now like EC Jerry, I gotta ask why? Safety hazards to occupant’s never pre-date older codes, in fact they don't read or care about codes, as they only wait to happen.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Thanks for the info guys. The reason is the city is trying to say the stairs are not up to code. It is a codo my friend owns and they are trying to say the stairs need to be updated. These are stairs to loft area which they also say requires a means of egress. It is a new inspector and he is on the war path. I think the majority of this is bullshit. The place was built in 1976 and Park City Utah didn't have city insepctors until 1981. So I need the 76 standards to see if the stairs vary.

    Thanks
    Its snowing....


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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    What are the measurements for the current stairway? Can we see some pics? Maybe the AHJ is on the warpath about some other points, improper headroom, bad winders, something along that line? Even if the stairway meets the '76 standard the code is the minimum and the AHJ can make the standard more restrictive.
    Has there been a major renovation since the structure was built? If so it may have been required that it be brought up to more recent codes. There are a lot of factors that come into play here, and we don't know 'em all, kind of hard to give an informed opinion without knowing the full story.
    Alton


  7. #7
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    While I don't have much in the way of old UBC codes (I have a 1991 City of Los Angeles UBC code) I do have an old City of Seattle, Washington Building Code, 1946. It does not say what it is based on, but it appears to have been based on some sort of 'model code' as I am sure that no city by itself could have arrived at this 'by themselves'.

    In Section 640, down where it describes treads and risers"
    - Treads and risers shall be so proportioned that the sum of two (2) risers and a tread is not less than twenty-four (24) nor more than twenty-five (25) inches. No riser shall more than seven and three-fourths (3/4) inches and no tread width less than nine (9) inches. There shall be no variation in the width of treads or the heights of risers in any flight of stairs.

    There is that old standby "Treads and risers shall be so proportioned that the sum of two (2) risers and a tread is not less than twenty-four (24) nor more than twenty-five (25) inches. No riser shall more than seven and three-fourths (3/4) inches and no tread width less than nine (9) inches." which has been used for many years, and there it is in 1946.

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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Mathew
    How many condo units on this property?
    How many other condos, if any, have the same stair configuration?
    Is the condo management or HOA involved in this problem with the inspector?
    Can you describe the stair layout and exactly what the inspector objects to?
    Photos are always helpful.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    matthew,
    from the 1976 ubc section 3305, private stairways minimum 30" wide if less than 10 occupants, 8" max rise 9" min run. handrail 30" to 34" above nosing. section 1716 guardrail 9"max openings and 36" high.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Quote Originally Posted by brian schmitt View Post
    from the 1976 ubc section 3305, private stairways minimum 30" wide if less than 10 occupants,
    Not sure about the UBC, but in the South Florida Building Code (which also had that same "private stairway" allowance for 30" minimum instead of the 36" minimum, that was *not* for "dwelling units". "Dwelling unit" stairs had to comply with the stairs for "dwelling units" and the applicable R Occupancy type.

    "Private stairs" were for, as an example, you have an office building or business building in which there was a "private stair" to an office. That "private stair" to that office was only allowed to be 30" minimum width if the calculated Occupant Load for that office was less than 10 Occupants.

    It does not take a very large office suite to make 10 or more occupants.

    Table 1004.1, IBC, for Business areas (Business Group B Occupancy) calculates the occupant load as 100 sf per occupant, i.e., a 900 sf office area would be listed as having an Occupant Load of 9 occupants, unless the design occupant load was greater, in which case the higher occupant load governs.

    The "private stair" is not intended to be used as, and not suitable for use as, 'a required means of egress', just a "private" way in and out of one space, as in the example above.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    JP,

    Private Stairway...

    Would that include the horrible, steep basement steps with the inadequate headroom and 2x4 guard/hand rail that I find in older homes?

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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Private Stairway...

    Would that include the horrible, steep basement steps with the inadequate headroom and 2x4 guard/hand rail that I find in older homes?
    Nope, not applicable to dwelling units.

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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Brian forced me to locate my 1976 UBC Code and he is correct in his post. Thanks Brian in that I now have every UBC code from 1927 to 1997 at my fingertips.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Brian forced me to locate my 1976 UBC Code

    West Coast Jerry,

    What does the 1976 UBC state as requirements for stairways in "dwelling units" or in "residential" (depending on which is used)?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Two year old post, I hope you guys are still around.

    I need to know if the 1976 code required 3/8" maximum variance between treads on a staircase (dimensional uniformity). My girlfriend fell and was injured on a stairway with rises and runs that vary randomly by over an inch. The building was constructed in 1978, so the 1976 codes should apply. I'm pretty sure dimensional uniformity in stairs has been around since the Roman era. But before I file a complaint with the city I want to be sure.

    At the very least I want to make this guy fix his stairs before anyone else is hurt. Any info on the 3/8" requirement would be appreciated.

    Phil


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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Martin View Post
    But before I file a complaint with the city I want to be sure.
    First, why would you file a compliant with the city?

    Who owns the building? You? Then file with your homeowners insurance.

    Second, go to the city (or call them) and find out what code was in effect at the time of construction, you do not want to base anything like this on a code *you think* may have been in effect at the time.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Martin View Post
    Two year old post, I hope you guys are still around.

    I need to know if the 1976 code required 3/8" maximum variance between treads on a staircase (dimensional uniformity). My girlfriend fell and was injured on a stairway with rises and runs that vary randomly by over an inch. The building was constructed in 1978, so the 1976 codes should apply. I'm pretty sure dimensional uniformity in stairs has been around since the Roman era. But before I file a complaint with the city I want to be sure.

    At the very least I want to make this guy fix his stairs before anyone else is hurt. Any info on the 3/8" requirement would be appreciated.

    Phil
    phil,
    it was a 1/4" variation maximum back then! get a lawyer and sue,sue ,sue. you just won the lottery


  18. #18
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Thanks guys. The building is owned by my landlord. It's actually his fault the stairs are not uniform because he did a "remodel" on the stairway without a permit. But I can't prove that now. I actually tried to file a complaint with the city but was told I needed to know the codes from 1976. I think they wanted me to be more confident that a violation had actually occurred before they would even investigate.

    My girlfriend did sue my landlord for the cost of her medical bills and won. My landlord immediately raised my rent, and only my rent. So I'm now suing him for Retaliatory Rent Increase. Court is tomorrow, wish me luck. Neither my girlfriend or I have ever had to sue anyone before we met this guy.

    I think I'm confident enough now to file a complaint with the city. If I can just get them to look into it, they'll tell me if I'm wrong.

    Thanks!

    Phil


  19. #19
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Martin View Post
    Thanks guys. The building is owned by my landlord. It's actually his fault the stairs are not uniform because he did a "remodel" on the stairway without a permit. But I can't prove that now. I actually tried to file a complaint with the city but was told I needed to know the codes from 1976. I think they wanted me to be more confident that a violation had actually occurred before they would even investigate.

    My girlfriend did sue my landlord for the cost of her medical bills and won. My landlord immediately raised my rent, and only my rent. So I'm now suing him for Retaliatory Rent Increase. Court is tomorrow, wish me luck. Neither my girlfriend or I have ever had to sue anyone before we met this guy.

    I think I'm confident enough now to file a complaint with the city. If I can just get them to look into it, they'll tell me if I'm wrong.

    Thanks!

    Phil
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    There are a couple of things Iím not sure about. In the 1976 code, whatís the difference between a Handrail in section 3305, and a Guardrail in section 1716?

    Also, 9 of the 15 treads on the landlordís staircase are not to code. You can see some of them clearly in the close-up. If the city determines that these stairs donít conform to 1976 code because treads and risers are not within tolerances, it would require most of the treads to be removed and repositioned. Would this be considered a major reconstruction, and require the entire stairway to be brought up to current codes i.e. open risers, baluster spacing, etc?

    Thanks again, you guys are awesome!

    Phil

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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    I'm not understanding where the 1976 Code comes into this. You stated the landlord rebuilt the stairs, which would bring about newer Code. Even in California I can't imagine those exterior stairs shown lasting 30+ years. I guess it's possible. Doesn't sound right. Get a lawyer.

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  22. #22
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    My landlord didn't bother to obtain a building permit, so that he wouldn't have to upgrade the entire staircase. He had 2 "carpenters" (well, they had their own hammers) replace the railing and a few of the treads. Everything else is still old code, and old construction.

    Phil


  23. #23
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    Default Re: 1976 UBC CODE REQUIREMENTS FOR STAIRS

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Martin View Post
    whatís the difference between a Handrail ..., and a Guardrail ...


    Regardless of which code you are looking at, the following would apply:
    - "guard" or "guardrail" is the guard rail one installs along the open side of a stair to keep one from falling off the edge of the stairs
    - "handrail" is the rail, a single rail, which runs down the side of the stair which you grab with your hand to keep from falling

    A "handrail" may be independent of a guardrail (such as mounted to a side wall of the stairway) or as the top rail of a guardrail on an open side of a stairway.

    Also, 9 of the 15 treads on the landlordís staircase are not to code. You can see some of them clearly in the close-up. If the city determines that these stairs donít conform to 1976 code because treads and risers are not within tolerances, it would require most of the treads to be removed and repositioned. Would this be considered a major reconstruction, and require the entire stairway to be brought up to current codes i.e. open risers, baluster spacing, etc?
    I'm not sure the city wants to, or will, get involved ... but they might. Usually the city would leave this to you and your landlord as a civil matter and you would retain your construction consultants and experts for yourself.

    Now, being as the stairs was unpermitted ... the city may decide to get involved, in which case their only real choice is to say: a) the stairs are compliant as built; b) the stairs are not compliant as built and are in need of being brought into compliance.

    The extent of the work to bring the stairway into compliance would be left up to the contractor executing the work as that contractor would be required to have the stairway inspected, and if the stairway was still non-compliant then the contractor would need to correct whatever was non-compliant.

    The AHJ either says it is compliant or it is non-compliant, in which case the AHJ steps back and lets the contractor do what the contractor will do and then comes back in for a re-inspection and says it is either compliant (signs off on the inspection) or non-compliant (writes a rejection/correction notice).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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