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Thread: Hand Rails

  1. #1
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Hand Rails

    Any thoughts on this. Does this staircase require a hand rail. It's the main access to the front door.

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  2. #2
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Hand Rails

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    Any thoughts on this. Does this staircase require a hand rail. It's the main access to the front door.
    MS: Yes.


  3. #3
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
    chris mcintyre Guest

    Default Re: Hand Rails

    If it is considered a staircase there are a lot a lot of issues, hand rail, tread depth, riser height difference, and so on.

    If it is considered part of the landscaping, it would be a good idea, but not required.

    I know most will disagree. So my question would be, where does the "house" (and the code) end.


  4. #4
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
    mathew stouffer Guest

    Default Re: Hand Rails

    The city considered it a primary staircase, needing all the fixins


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Hand Rails

    Does the code apply to decks, walkways, and other things built on the site or only to "the house"?

    For the answer we need to follow through to what the code is applicable to: (bold and underlining are mine)

    - R101.2 Scope. The provisions of the International Residential Code for One- and Two-family Dwellings shall apply to the construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, location, removal and demolition of detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories above-grade in height with a separate means of egress and their accessory structures.

    - STRUCTURE. That which is built or constructed.

    - ACCESSORY STRUCTURE. A structure not greater than 3,000 square feet (279 m2) in floor area, and not over two stories in height, the use of which is customarily accessory to and incidental to that of the dwelling(s) and which is located on the same lot.

    That is why the code applies to a detached garage. No one questions that application, do they?

    That is also why the code applies to any and all "structures", including "accessory" "structures" on the lot, which include any "structure" built or placed on the same lot.

    Was that "stairway" naturally occurring, or, was that stairway "built or constructed"? That stairway was "built or constructed" and therefore must meet the code.


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

  6. #6
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
    chris mcintyre Guest

    Default Re: Hand Rails

    The reason I asked the question is that after seeing Mathew's pic, I thought specifically about sloped lots that are tiered with retaining walls and steps, usually in the center of the wall, with no rails.

    So if I interpret the code sections that you posted correctly, these retaining walls (that are over 30" high) and steps (that are more than 3 rises) are required to have rails?

    I see a lot of these, and can not recall ever seeing one with rails.


  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Hand Rails

    Chris,

    That used to be in the old Standard Codes but was dropped when the model code agencies joined together as the ICC and combined their codes into the International Codes.

    Now, the retaining wall issue is more or less addressed locally as they interpret it, most giving consideration that 'moving earth around' is not a "structure" and therefore the code does not apply to that ... but .. the retaining wall itself is a "structure" and the codes do apply to it ... but ... the ground next to the retaining wall is not necessarily a 'walking surface' and therefore the context of the code does not apply to that height difference ... but ... (the wishy-washy hedging could go on all night) ... I liked the old way when it was addressed.

    Seawalls were also addressed, as were docks, with the application of railings being water 3 feet or more in depth at all times not requiring railings, whereas water depths of less than 3 feet at any time did require a railing if there was a drop over 30", which meant that tides affected where railings were required at seawalls and docks ... suffice it to say that it was not clear cut then either, so that was also dropped.

    Not just in the old Standard Codes but in the old South Florida Building Codes too - docks and seawalls were 'walking surfaces' and some dropped off to dangerous rocks, where 3 feet of water would offer protection from the fall (but allowing one to drown - you got to select your own poison ).

    'Can' railing requirements be applied to any and all "structures" on the same lot? Yes.

    'Are' railing requirements applied to any and all "structures" on the same lot? No.

    Who decides? The AHJ, based on feed back and pressure from their public and their bosses, who get feed back and pressure from their public ... where the 'public' includes 'contractors'.

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Hand Rails

    Forget the code arguments unless you are the local AHJ.
    Common sense says put a handrail there.
    Look at that rough surface and the ice in the area.

    Only a fool would not suggest adding handrails for safety.


  9. #9
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
    chris mcintyre Guest

    Default Re: Hand Rails

    Jerry,

    Very clearly explained, I wasn't on board to start with, but it makes sense. So I will agree, especially with this part:

    'Can' railing requirements be applied to any and all "structures" on the same lot? Yes.

    'Are' railing requirements applied to any and all "structures" on the same lot? No.
    Thanks


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Hand Rails

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    Any thoughts on this. Does this staircase require a hand rail. It's the main access to the front door.
    I advise people to install handrails for stairs like that, I mention Gramma and Grampa coming to visit. They always agree it would be a good idea??? Yeah, good one for the back burner.

    I called for handrails for the stairs in these pics, but the realtor blurted out that they were not needed by code. New home, the buyers may have gotten rails installed by the builder if they'd pursued it. Oh well.

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  11. #11
    Mark Tran's Avatar
    Mark Tran Guest

    Default Re: Hand Rails

    I would have to agree with some of the people who suggest putting a handrail there regardless if the code requires it or not.
    However that's not the only issue with this picture, there are 4 risers all uneven heights and the surface of the first riser is no where near leveled, and how about tread depth isn't max at 355mm/14". The list goes on, this stair is dangerous in my books. Just my 2cents


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