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  1. #1
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    Default Wide Steps requirement

    Inspected a home today that had 7' wide steps on the front of the home. One handrail on the right side and on the left it was butted to the garage wall. Because of the width should there be a handrail on both sides. I can't find anything stating so

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    In a dwelling unit, just one is required.

    This gets back to that "basic construction knowledge and common sense" issue.

    Granted, there are not many occupants in a resident, not like in a commercial building, but, if there is a 14 foot wide stair and only a handrail on one side, just does not do much good for the other side. And none is required in the center either.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Thanks Jerry,
    Checks in the mail...

    Common sense just doesn't seem to fit in construction.......

    What caught me was walking up them coming from my car. The driveway is on the left when you walk around you have a natural tendency to walk up the left side of the steps.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Doesn't look like a handrail. Looks like a guardrail. A handrail has to be a specific diameter. Not to exceed... umm... 2 1/4" (I think).

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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Doesn't look like a handrail. Looks like a guardrail. A handrail has to be a specific diameter. Not to exceed... umm... 2 1/4" (I think).

    The top of the guard is what used to be accepted as a handrail.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    The railing for the steps in question would not meet today's code standards if that is what you are holding it to.

    Only one is required, no matter how wide the residential steps.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    I don't know the American code, but the BC Bilding Code 2006 specified:
    3.4.6.4 Handrails
    1) A stairway shall have a handrail on at least one side, but if it is 1100mm or more wide, it shall have handrails on both sides.
    3) a) a circular cross-section with an outside diameter not less than 30mm and not more than 43mm.
    8) a) The clearance between a handrail and any surface behind it shall be not less than 50mm.

    10 A ramp shall have handrails on both sides.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Jeff and I have both stated that the top of that guard does not meet current code, however, it did at the time it was installed.

    Does that make it "right"? No, and that is not why I stated it used to be approved. I stated that because Gunnar stated "Doesn't look like a handrail. Looks like a guardrail. A handrail has to be a specific diameter. Not to exceed... umm... 2 1/4" (I think)." ... I was pointing out that *IT WAS* a handrail ... and was approved at one time way back when.

    Does that make make it a proper handrail now? Nope.

    Does that NOT MAKE IT A handrail? Nope, it is still a handrail, just one which no longer conforms to code.

    I was pointing out Gunnar that, indeed, it WAS a "handrail".

    It "was", and "still is" ... a "handrail".

    Stating that does not imply that it is a proper handrail at this time.

    If you build a house which met code 30 years ago, but which no longer meets code today ... it is still a "house" right? Same with the handrail.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    I'm sorry Jerry. What where you saying ?


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    If you are talking about the picture above it's a brand new home that just got it's CO. The majority of the "new" homes here have a 2x4 as a handrail for the steps.

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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    I'm sorry Jerry. What where you saying ?


    What I was saying is that just because something "was", but does now not met code, that does not mean it no longer "is".

    All not meeting code means is that is in "no longer compliant", but it still "is" whatever it was.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schulz View Post
    If you are talking about the picture above it's a brand new home that just got it's CO. The majority of the "new" homes here have a 2x4 as a handrail for the steps.
    New construction and they are still allowing those "handrails"?

    Then what you have there is a non-compliant handrail which does not meet the graspability requirements of the code.

    From the 2006 IRC. (underlining is mine)
    - R311.5.6.3 Handrail grip size. All required handrails shall be of one of the following types or provide equivalent graspability.
    - - 1. Type I. Handrails with a circular cross section shall have an outside diameter of at least 11/4 inches (32 mm) and not greater than 2 inches (51 mm). If the handrail is not circular it shall have a perimeter dimension of at least 4 inches (102 mm) and not greater than 61/4 inches (160 mm) with a maximum cross section of dimension of 21/4 inches(57 mm).
    - - 2. Type II. Handrails with a perimeter greater than 61/4 inches (160 mm) shall provide a graspable finger recess area on both sides of the profile. The finger recess shall begin within a distance of 3/4 inch (19 mm) measured vertically from the tallest portion of the profile and achieve a depth of at least 5/16 inch (8 mm) within 7/8 inch (22 mm) below the widest portion of the profile. This required depth shall continue for at least 3/8 inch (10 mm)to a level that is not less than 13/4 inches (45 mm) below the tallest portion of the profile. The minimum width of the handrail above the recess shall be 11/4 inches (32 mm) to a maximum of 23/4 inches (70 mm). Edges shall have a minimum radius of 0.01 inch (0.25 mm).

    Those 2x4s would need to be turned upright and have a finger grip recess in their sides, see the Type II handrail drawing.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Hi, All &

    That's right, Daniel - anything wider than 4 feet always requires railings @ both sides, now, since that width tends to cause folks going up AND down to use the stairs at the same time, so each needs their own, up here in B.C. (Canada)...


    CHEERS !


    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Leung View Post
    I don't know the American code, but the BC Bilding Code 2006 specified:
    3.4.6.4 Handrails
    1) A stairway shall have a handrail on at least one side, but if it is 1100mm or more wide, it shall have handrails on both sides.
    3) a) a circular cross-section with an outside diameter not less than 30mm and not more than 43mm.
    8) a) The clearance between a handrail and any surface behind it shall be not less than 50mm.

    10 A ramp shall have handrails on both sides.
    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn Duxbury View Post
    Hi, All &

    That's right, Daniel - anything wider than 4 feet always requires railings @ both sides, now, since that width tends to cause folks going up AND down to use the stairs at the same time, so each needs their own, up here in B.C. (Canada)...

    CHEERS !

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

    Question:

    Is that applicable to dwelling unit too? Or does it just apply to non-dwellings? Or do you not have a separate code which addresses dwelling slightly differently than non-dwellings?

    Down here "south of the border" we have the same requirement, except for within dwelling units and for dwellings (there is a difference for that wording).

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Question: Is that applicable to dwelling unit too? Or does it just apply to non-dwellings? Or do you not have a separate code which addresses dwelling slightly differently than non-dwellings?
    Hi Jerry, The answers are from the beginning of the BC Building Code 2006:
    1.1.1.1 Application of this Code
    1) This Code applies to any one or more of the following:
    a) the design and construction of a new building,
    b) the occupancy of any building,
    c) the change in occupancy of any building,
    d) an alteration of any building,
    e) an addition to any building,
    f) the demolition of any building,
    ...
    o) the alteration, rehabilitation and change of occupancy of heritage buildings.

    2) This Code does not apply to:
    ....
    e) accessory buildings less than 10 square meter in building area that do not create a hazard,
    f) temporary buildings such as construction site offices, seasonal storage buildings, special events facilities, emergency facilities, and such similar structures as authorized by the authority having jurisdiction,
    g) factory built housing and compoonents certified by a Standards Council of Canada accredited agency.......
    h) those areas that are specifically exempted from provincial building regulations or by federal statutes or regulations.

    3) This Code applies both to site-assembled and factory-built buildings.
    4) Farm buildings shall conform to the requirements in the National Farm Building Code of Canada 1995.
    5) The Alternate Compliance Methods for Heritage Buildings in Table A-1.1.1. in Appendix A may be substituted for requirements contained elsewhere in this Code.

    We have "PART 9 Housing and Small Building" in this Building Code. The Handrails requirement are listed at Clauses 9.8.7. It is no big confict with the Clause 3.4.6.4 that I posted here before:

    9.8.7.1 Required Handrails
    1) Except as permitted in Sentences (2) and (3), a handrail shall be provided
    a) on at least one side of stairs or ramps less than 1100mm in width,
    b) on 2 sides of curved stairs or curved ramps of any width, except curved stairs within dwelling units, and
    c) on 2 sides of stairs or ramps 1100mm in width or greater.

    2) Handrails are not required for

    a) interior stairs having not more than 2 risers and serving a single dwelling unit,
    b) exterior stairs having not more than 3 risers and serving a single dwelling unit,
    c) ramps with a slope of less than 1 in 12, or
    d) ramps rising not more than 400mm

    3) Only one handrail is required on exterior stairs having more than 3 risers provided such stairs serve not more than one dwelling unit.

    I think the grey area is on sentence 3, if that is a single family house, then one handrail is required (no matter wider than 1100mm or not??). Any comment?


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Daniel,

    My comment is that there is no gray area, it pretty much says what I expected (only in different words and format).

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Leung View Post
    9.8.7.1 Required Handrails
    1) Except as permitted in Sentences (2) and (3), a handrail shall be provided
    a) on at least one side of stairs or ramps less than 1100mm in width,
    b) on 2 sides of curved stairs or curved ramps of any width, except curved stairs within dwelling units, and
    c) on 2 sides of stairs or ramps 1100mm in width or greater.

    2) Handrails are not required for
    a) interior stairs having not more than 2 risers and serving a single dwelling unit,
    b) exterior stairs having not more than 3 risers and serving a single dwelling unit,
    c) ramps with a slope of less than 1 in 12, or
    d) ramps rising not more than 400mm

    3) Only one handrail is required on exterior stairs having more than 3 risers provided such stairs serve not more than one dwelling unit.

    This is what it says, leaving out all that is not applicable: (underlining in mine)
    - 9.8.7.1 Required Handrails
    - - 1) Except as permitted in Sentences (2) and (3), a handrail shall be provided (Jerry's note: This excepts out certain handrails.)
    - - - a) on at least one side of stairs or ramps less than 1100mm in width, (Jerry's note: This requires at least one handrail at all stairs and ramps less than 1100 mm in width.)
    - - - b) on 2 sides of curved stairs or curved ramps of any width, except curved stairs within dwelling units, and (Jerry's note: This excepts out dwelling units from having handrails on both sides of curved stairs. Only one handrail on curved stairs is required in dwelling units, regardless of width.)
    - - - c) on 2 sides of stairs or ramps 1100mm in width or greater. (Jerry's note: Except as noted above for dwelling unit curved stairs of any width only require one handrail.)
    - - 2) Handrails are not required for (Jerry's note: This entire section excepts out handrails as stated for 2 or fewer risers [interior stairs] and 3 or fewer risers [exterior stairs].)
    - - - a) interior stairs having not more than 2 risers and serving a single dwelling unit,
    - - - b) exterior stairs having not more than 3 risers and serving a single dwelling unit,
    - - - c) ramps with a slope of less than 1 in 12, or
    - - - d) ramps rising not more than 400mm
    - - 3) Only one handrail is required on exterior stairs having more than 3 risers provided such stairs serve not more than one dwelling unit. (Jerry's note: This only requires one handrail at exterior stairs for dwelling units, regardless of width, straight or curved - this is all inclusive for exterior stairs.)

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  17. #17
    Daniel Leung's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    - - 3) Only one handrail is required on exterior stairs having more than 3 risers provided such stairs serve not more than one dwelling unit. (Jerry's note: This only requires one handrail at exterior stairs for dwelling units, regardless of width, straight or curved - this is all inclusive for exterior stairs.)
    Jerry, yes the sentence 3 request just one handrail for serving one dwelling unit. If the house have a basement suite, then go back to sentences 1 & 2. Two handrails are needed for over 1100mm width.

    The definition of Dwelling Unit at Clause 1.4.1.1 " Dwelling unit means a suite operated as a housekeeping unit, used or intended to be used as a domicile by one or more persons and usually containing cooking, eating, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities." The grey area is not easy to classify "dwelling unit" or "dwelling units".

    In
    Vancouver, many houses have 1-2 basement suites legally or illegally. As an inspector, we don't know the intention of the owner/buyer to add a second kitchen or not.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Wide Steps requirement

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Leung View Post
    Jerry, yes the sentence 3 request just one handrail for serving one dwelling unit. If the house have a basement suite, then go back to sentences 1 & 2. Two handrails are needed for over 1100mm width.

    The definition of Dwelling Unit at Clause 1.4.1.1 " Dwelling unit means a suite operated as a housekeeping unit, used or intended to be used as a domicile by one or more persons and usually containing cooking, eating, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities." The grey area is not easy to classify "dwelling unit" or "dwelling units".

    In Vancouver, many houses have 1-2 basement suites legally or illegally. As an inspector, we don't know the intention of the owner/buyer to add a second kitchen or not.
    But it becomes an even greater (and lesser) complication than that with the definition you posted.

    *IF* there is no "basement suite" at the time of your inspection, it does not matter "what they might add in the future".

    *IF* there is a "basement suite", and by "basement suite" you mean a suite in the basement with an exterior entrance, then that stairs *STILL ONLY SERVES* the single dwelling unit and still only requires one handrail.

    That sentence 3 does not say 'provided the stairs do not serve a building with more than one dwelling unit', it says 'provided the stairs do not serve more than one dwelling unit'.

    Here is an example: Our daughter will be moving to a new apartment next month, much closer to us (5 minutes away instead of 15 minutes away ) and those apartments are two story with the second story being accessed by exterior stairs (just what sentence 3 covers). The center units share a common stairs between two units, the end units (hers is an end unit) has its own stair - an exterior stair which serves only one dwelling unit. That means that the center stairs (by your code) would require TWO handrails, but the end stairs would only require ONE handrail.

    Just like your basement suite which is (as I am visualizing them) served by another entrance, say a stairs going down, and the main house dwelling unit is served by the stairs going up, thus, the exterior stairs serves only ONE dwelling unit and thus requires only one handrail.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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