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  1. #1
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    Default walkway blocked by window

    On this deck they placed the stairway landing such that there is interference in the walking path when the kitchen casement window is open. I'm writing it up and I have no problem producing a comment using common sense.

    My question is, is there a code reference that speaks to this poor design? IRC maybe?

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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    One thing that comes to mind when I look at that:

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    I'd just point it out as a potential safety hazard and move on.... There's really nothing more to be gained.


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I'd just point it out as a potential safety hazard and move on.... There's really nothing more to be gained.
    Thats basically what I did.


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Yup I'm with Matt. It doesn't affect the value of the property and they'll still buy the house, but it should be pointed out as a safety note just in case someone puts their head through it and then tries to put it on you.


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    My question is, is there a code reference that speaks to this poor design? IRC maybe?
    That's what I was referring to... if it's dumb, it's dumb... no need for the rulebook to tell me so. It doesn't change my opinion one way or another. Home Inspections aren't code compliance inspections.


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I'd just point it out as a potential safety hazard and move on.... There's really nothing more to be gained.
    I would not simply point it out and then "move on", and, by the way, there is a lot "more to be gained" by explaining it to your client - their safety and your pocket book protection.

    Things THAT STUPID need to be brought to the forefront with a large hammer, if the builder does something THAT STUPID ... just think what else they may have done?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Hi, ALL &

    Works OK for 'little people', doesn't it, as it is ?!

    What's the big concern - just change that window-opening or leave it shut. Solved !

    Obviously 'just kiddin', but couldn't resist...

    CHEERS !

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I would not simply point it out and then "move on", and, by the way, there is a lot "more to be gained" by explaining it to your client - their safety and your pocket book protection.

    Things THAT STUPID need to be brought to the forefront with a large hammer, if the builder does something THAT STUPID ... just think what else they may have done?
    No matter how many rules and codes you invent you're still not imune to lawsuits. Some would argue you become a lighting rod.


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    The deck was built after the house by a different contractor. I told my client that even if they asked to have the stairs put there, the deck contractor should have recognized the situation with the window and helped them come up with a better idea.

    In the report I pointed out the safety hazard and made some suggestions to eliminate it. One was to move the stairs and the other was to swap out the window for one that doesn't swing out when opened. Then, I moved on.


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    One thing that comes to mind when I look at that:
    Michael,

    Where did that illustration come from. looks like a good book to have.

    Thanks


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    Michael,

    Where did that illustration come from. looks like a good book to have.

    Thanks
    See attached.

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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Thanks


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    No matter how many rules and codes you invent you're still not imune to lawsuits. Some would argue you become a lighting rod.
    No one is "inventing" any codes, and "applying" "known" codes does not invite lawsuits, it in fact can serve to discourage lawsuits.

    NO ONE, referencing codes or not, is immune to lawsuits as any one can sue anyone for any reason.

    The real lightning rods are those who avoid providing back up documentation for their statements. That back up documentation is the down conductor grounding conductor from the air terminal of the lightning rod system - without that down conductor, the air terminal is left sticking up there al by itself.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    John Dirks,

    Besides the obstructing path of the kitchen window, what other egress paths are obstructed? Bedroom windows, secondary doors, with which ones path of travel are dependent on ones landing on the deck and to the stair and landing (which then leads to the stairs) is obstructed by the open casement?

    It appears the casement is significantly lower than six feet over the deck, and when open blocks any path to the first step/landing-encroaches so that there is no available unobstructed path (depth 36" on platform of deck from nose and 36" wide - beginning of "stairway" and six feet 8" of height), is that the case? (Have a pic straight on at the window with stair in view at the right?)

    What is the width of that first stair before the landing & change of direction? What are the clear dimmensions at the deck level landing (depth and path of travel without obstruction)? What are the dimmensions of that next lower landing (change of direction)? (looks a bit short on the dimmensions i.e. path of travel), hard to know the visual scale height vs. distance in the picture.

    Life Safety Code? unammended IRC: stairs, headroom/height, width, clearance-landings; Secondary Egress; Fire Code?

    The exterior stairway is a continous one, made up of a platform, stair, landing, and flight of stairs.


    R311.5.1 Width.
    Stairways shall not be less than 36 inches in clear width at all points above the permitted handrail height and below the required headroom height.

    R311.5.2 Headroom.
    The minimum headroom in all parts of the stairway shall not be less than 6 feet, 8 inches measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing or from the floor surface of the landing or platform.

    R311.5.4 Landings for Stairways.
    There shall be a floor or landing at the top and bottom of each stairway.
    Exception: A floor or landing is not required at the top of an interior flight of stairs, including stairs in an enclosed garage, provided a door does not swing over the stairs.

    A flight of stairs shall not have a vertical rise greater than 12 feet between floor levels or landings.

    The width of each landing shall not be less than the stairway served. Every landing shall have a minimum dimension of 36 inches measured in the direction of travel.



    Might be an illusion, but appears the ("graspable" portion?) handrail for the continuous length of stairs below the landing does not begin above the top riser of the flight, but that the newel projects from the first tread of the flight (next below the intermediate landing). It also appears to be more than 1-1/2" between the "graspable" handrail and the adjacent building wall. See R311.5.6.2, Continuity.

    Stairway. One or more flights of stairs, either exterior or interior, with the necessary landings and platforms connecting them, to form a continuous and uninterrupted passage from one level to another.

    Stair. A change in elevation, consisting of one or more risers.

    Stairway, exterior, A stairway that is open on at least one side, except for required structural colums, beams, handrails and guards. The adjoining open areas shall be either yards, courts or public ways. The other sides of the exterior stairway need not be open.

    See:
    Stairway Manufacturer's Association - SMA: Codes and Standards

    2006 Visual Interpretation of the International Residental Code "Stair Building Code", or 2009, as applicable.

    Swapping window type for a single or double hung perhaps solves a headroom encroachment/violation; however if opening to the stairway is less than 36" or that intermediate landing is not correct (min. 36"x36"*plus depending on widths of the stair/stairs) the stairway may still need to be corrected.

    HTH.


    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-16-2010 at 12:57 PM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Your right HG, the stairway opening looks shy of 36" wide.


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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    "R311.5.1 Width.
    Stairways shall not be less than 36 inches in clear width at all points above the permitted handrail height and below the required headroom height."


    The code does not require the stair treads themself to be 36" wide. You just need an area 36" in clear width "above" the permitted handrail height and "below" the required headroom height.

    How high is the handrail required to be? 34 to 38". So the steps aren't actually required to be 36" just the area between the top of handrail (34 to 38") and the required headroom height (6'8") So the area 34" (lowest portion possible for a legal handrail) to 6'8" (headroom) is all that is required to be 36" wide along with the landings. Treads....nope!


  18. #18
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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    "R311.5.1 Width.
    Stairways shall not be less than 36 inches in clear width at all points above the permitted handrail height and below the required headroom height."


    The code does not require the stair treads themself to be 36" wide. You just need an area 36" in clear width "above" the permitted handrail height and "below" the required headroom height.

    How high is the handrail required to be? 34 to 38". So the steps aren't actually required to be 36" just the area between the top of handrail (34 to 38") and the required headroom height (6'8") So the area 34" (lowest portion possible for a legal handrail) to 6'8" (headroom) is all that is required to be 36" wide along with the landings. Treads....nope!
    Wayne Carlisle,

    Your conclusion that a floor or landing in this stairway does not have to be a minimum dimmension of 36" is not in accordance with the code. The minimum dimmensions of a landing are indeed 36" in all directions of travel OR the width of the stairway whichever is greater.

    R311.5.4 Landings for Stairways.

    There shall be a floor or landing at the top and bottom of each stairway.

    Exception: A floor or landing is not required at the top of an interior flight of stairs, including stairs in an enclosed garage, provided a door does not swing over the stairs.

    A flight of stairs shall not have a vertical rise greater than 12 feet between floor levels or landings.

    The width of each landing shall not be less than the stairway served. Every landing shall have a minimum dimension of 36 inches measured in the direction of travel.
    We have already established the stairway is an exterior one.

    The floor or landing at the deck platform must be a minimum of 36" wide, the intermediate landing similar minimum width as already noted and confirmed "apparent deficiency" by the original poster in the contribution preceding your comment.

    The floor or landing at the platform area (at the deck approach edge of the first/last riser) appear to be shy - in both floor width and headroom, as the OP confirmed what "appeared to be the case" in the photo. The window encroaches the "headroom" approach or departure from the first/last riser (that being to/from the deck level platform); the required headroom for the first riser or last riser as one descends from above or ascends from below, and therefore stairway. It also restricts or encroaches on the egress/exit path from the deck itself.

    The required handrail at the stairs below the intermediate landing is deficient (return to alcove wall of home and proximity to riser - 1-1/2" beyond) as previously noted.

    To review:

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    On this deck they placed the stairway landing such that there is interference in the walking path when the kitchen casement window is open. I'm writing it up and I have no problem producing a comment using common sense.
    My question is, is there a code reference that speaks to this poor design? IRC maybe?
    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Swapping window type for a single or double hung perhaps solves a headroom encroachment/violation; however if opening to the stairway is less than 36" or that intermediate landing is not correct (min. 36"x36"*plus depending on widths of the stair/stairs) the stairway may still need to be corrected.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    Your right HG, the stairway opening looks shy of 36" wide.
    Note that as photographed, the "opening" width of the stairway is wider than the intermediate landing platform.

    Therefore, your rebuttal/conclusion/point is ill-taken relative to the actual language IRC stair code sections, the OP, and responses thereto (to which my own contribution was one using not just one IRC citation, nor a singular deficiency!). The code speaks to risers, floors/landings, stair(s). Where is your "tread" language?

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-19-2010 at 09:17 AM. Reason: formatting.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Wayne Carlisle,

    Your conclusion that a floor or landing in this stairway does not have to be a minimum dimmension of 36" is not in accordance with the code. The minimum dimmensions of a landing are indeed 36" in all directions of travel OR the width of the stairway whichever is greater.
    I did not say that the landing could be less than 36" I said the treads themself are not required to be 36".

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    is required to be 36" wide along with the landings. Treads....nope!
    I am just pointing out that the code does not require the treads of the steps to be 36" wide.

    Let's look at stairways from the beginning. Take the picture out of it!

    Per the 2006 IRC
    R311.5 Stairways.
    R311.5.1Width.
    Stairways shall not be less than 36 inches
    (914 mm) in clear width at all points above the permitted
    handrail height and below the required headroom height.


    To me this says that the stairway is the area above the handrail and below the required headroom height. This is the area that is required to be 36" in clear width.

    So the area above the handrail and below the headroom height is required to be 36".
    The floors or landings are required to be 36".

    I'm just pointing out that there is not a specific code on the width of treads. If the treads are 35" wide but have a floor or landing of at least 36" and the area above the handrail and below the required headroom height is 36" wide, the stairway would be in compliance to the way the code is written. Do you agree or disagree?


  20. #20
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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    The SMA interpretation:

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  21. #21
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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    And in that same publication it shows where the landing is required to be a minimum of 36". Look at the diagram though. The treads are not 36"!

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    Default Re: walkway blocked by window

    Wayne Carlisle,

    You need to clarify your question.

    Are you asking pertaining to the photographed and subject exterior stairway, THIS stairway? THIS EXTERIOR STAIRWAY?

    Please specify and define what you mean by "tread".

    Do you see a handrail anywhere between the deck platform and the top of the first riser decending from the intermediate landing? I'm not seeing one, please point it out to me.

    I'm inclined to remind you that questions regarding exit paths, presence of primary/secondary egress doors to deck, EEROs were not answered. We do know that the guard rail post to siding opening on the deck is less than 36" and that the intermediate platform below is less wide than that opening in that direction of travel. We also know (J.D., Jr. said) that the photographed "deck" and "stairway" are not original to the home, we do not know if/what was replacing. At this point for all we know they were replacing the primary stairway and landing to the primary door for a raised ranch on the face of the house.

    I do not presume to assume the location of this deck relative to the elevation plan nor the floor-plan of the home. I further do not presume to assume the elevation of the deck, nor if the intermediate landing was a "design choice", mandated by the elevation of the deck (number of risers), or an obstruction below.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-22-2010 at 11:45 AM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Walkway blocked by window

    John Jr, ... In the end, your recommendation to the buyers to either move the stairs or swap out the window with one that doesn't swing out - was a good one.

    It amazes me how some people (builders) use very little common sense (use prior planning) when building something. It's just a matter of time before someone walks up the stairs and walks right into the window - possibly injuring their eye !!

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