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  1. #1
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    Default creative guard rail

    I did not inspect this property, however I couldn't resist taking a photo.
    It appears that the closer the height above grade gets to 30 inches, the closer the guard rail gets to being acceptable.
    I don't buy it, of course. If a guard rail isn't required, but you put one there anyway, it still has to meet code.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    It's a wheelchair ramp. It needs curb rails all the way down, or somebody needs to wear a helmet. I don't know, I'm just tossing out ideas.

    Should motorbikes have seatbelts? Of course not. Well, what if it's a trike? No. Well what if it's a trike with a canopy? What if it's an electric scooter with a roof and a door?

    A logging company I used to work with bought a quad so we could get into poor access places, washed-out roads and such. A big outfit I won't name bought the whole works. They have strict seatbelt rules. We were told we could not use the quad because it didn't have a seatbelt.
    It would be suicide to flip a quad while you were strapped to it, but there was no way you could convince middle management that we needed the quad more then they needed to enforce the rule. We walked and stayed safe and the quad stayed in the shed.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    .
    I don't buy it, of course.
    .
    So what are they Protecting the scrub brush from with those wire and picket wraps ?
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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  4. #4
    erika krieger's Avatar
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    this is from the 2006 IRC:
    R311.6 Ramps.
    R311.6.1 Maximum slope.
    Ramps shall have a maximum slope of one unit vertical in twelve units horizontal (8.3-percent slope). Exception: Where it is technically infeasible to comply because of site constraints, ramps may have a maximum slope of one unit vertical in eight horizontal (12.5 percent slope).

    R311.6.2 Landings required. A minimum 3-foot-by-3-foot (914 mm by 914 mm) landing shall be provided:
    1. At the top and bottom of ramps.
    2. Where doors open onto ramps.
    3. Where ramps change direction.

    R311.6.3 Handrails required. Handrails shall be provided on at least one side of all ramps exceeding a slope of one unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (8.33-percent slope).
    R311.6.3.1 Height. Handrail height, measured above the finished surface of the ramp slope, shall be not less than 34 inches (864 mm) and not more than 38 inches (965 mm).




  5. #5
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    So what are they protecting the scrub brush from with those wire and picket wraps ?
    .
    ?Javelinas del norte?

    Last edited by John Kogel; 04-16-2012 at 06:52 PM. Reason: deleted the rude part :>)
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    So what are they Protecting the scrub brush from with those wire and picket wraps ?
    .
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    ?Javelinas del norte?
    .

    More Likely.
    .

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  7. #7
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    If I put a rail where it is not required, what says it should meet code? I think there are no code requirements for a rail where it's not required.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood View Post
    If I put a rail where it is not required, what says it should meet code? I think there are no code requirements for a rail where it's not required.
    No so, even if not required, but is installed, must meet code.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    As a code official I agree with Darrel; when a handrail or guardrail is not required it does not need to meet code required dimensions.

    Thom Huggett, PE, SE, CBO

  10. #10
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Huggett View Post
    As a code official I agree with Darrel; when a handrail or guardrail is not required it does not need to meet code required dimensions.
    How about other requirements? Strength, for instance. A non-required guard rail is allowed to be flimsy? I don't think so.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    "How about other requirements? Strength, for instance. A non-required guard rail is allowed to be flimsy? I don't think so."

    Why not? If you break through it and fall, you won't fall the distance the code writers have decided is dangerous.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    You have stairs, so you don't need a ramp, but you put a ramp in anyhow. Since you already have stairs, your saying it's allowed for the ramp to:
    Not have rails, 4 in 12 slope, 30" wide, not have landings, and with the dryer exhaust blowing on the ramp.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  13. #13
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    The ramp is required if you are in a situation needing handicap access, therefore the code requirements apply. The presence of stairs is not relevant.

    Another example: I have two windows in a bedroom. Only one is required to meet the egress requirements. Also, I have an exterior door in the bedroom, so neither window is required to meet the egress requirements.

    Another example: I have two smoke alarms in the bedroom. Only one requires integral wiring.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Huggett View Post
    As a code official I agree with Darrel; when a handrail or guardrail is not required it does not need to meet code required dimensions.
    As another code official I disagree with Thom.

    If it is not required but it is installed anyway, then *it is still* a "guardrail" and guardrails have minimum requirements.

    *IF* the guardrail is there, required or not, and someone leans against it thinking that it IS a guardrail, then that guardrail had better be able to withstand all the loads a guardrail is required to withstand, and it needs to be at least as high as required for a guardrail lest someone fall over it and get hurt.

    If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ... it a duck.

    If it looks like a guardrail ... people are going to assume it is a guardrail ... so it needs to *BE* a guardrail.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood View Post
    The ramp is required if you are in a situation needing handicap access, therefore the code requirements apply. The presence of stairs is not relevant.

    Another example: I have two windows in a bedroom. Only one is required to meet the egress requirements. Also, I have an exterior door in the bedroom, so neither window is required to meet the egress requirements.

    Another example: I have two smoke alarms in the bedroom. Only one requires integral wiring.
    Darrel
    I try not to use comparisons because more often than not comparisons are not good at demonstrating the point. However since you set the precedence I will follow.
    Even when there are 2 smoke alarms, both should work as designed.
    A garbage disposal is not required to be installed, but when installed it must be installed correctly.
    When a ceiling fan is installed, it must work.
    A door is not required to have a deadbolt, but when it does it must work, and most times it should not be a double cylinder deadbolt.
    When there is a spray wand at the kitchen sink I expect it to work.
    A garage door is not required to have an electric opener, but if one is installed...
    I can go on, but is it necessarily?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    No need to go on because if there are two smoke alarms in the bedroom there is no requirement that both are wired to the house nor even that the second one has batteries. I agree that it "should" and in most cases I agree with "I expect". But there is no requirement in the codes.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Y'know, it's funny, but I had never seen anything like the rail in John's post. But yesterday, I saw something similar. This is a bit different because the ramp was constructed above steps, but nonetheless...

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood View Post
    No need to go on because if there are two smoke alarms in the bedroom there is no requirement that both are wired to the house nor even that the second one has batteries. I agree that it "should" and in most cases I agree with "I expect". But there is no requirement in the codes.
    Is that how you inspect for your customers?

    If something is installed, then it should be installed properly, if not it gets reported as a defect.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    SECTION R313
    SMOKE ALARMS
    R313.1 Smoke detection and notification. All smoke alarms
    shall be
    listed in accordance with UL 217 and installed in
    accordance with the provisions of this code
    and the household
    fire warning equipment provisions of NFPA 72.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  20. #20
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    In answer to the question about how I inspect for my customers: As an HI I document items as they should be and as I expect them to be. As a code enforcement inspector, I document items as the code requirements apply.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood View Post
    In answer to the question about how I inspect for my customers: As an HI I document items as they should be and as I expect them to be. As a code enforcement inspector, I document items as the code requirements apply.
    Good, that is what I thought.
    Then ALL smoke alarms shall (will) be installed in accordance with the provisions of the code, which includes batteries. If the 2nd smoke is a hardwired type it must be hardwired, not just hanging there useless.
    Which brings us back to the ramp in question.
    If there are rails on the ramp, they also need to (shall) be to code.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  22. #22
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    I concede the smoke alarm, not the ramp. You argue well.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Darrel
    Your gonna like this

    The IRC uses the terms “Guard” and “ Handrail”, it does not use the terms “Guardrail”, or “Rail”.
    In the OP’s photo, I see a guard, but I do not see a handrail.

    From what is visible in the photo, it seems that all points of the ramp are less than 30” above the grade.
    Being less that 30” above grade means that no guard is required.
    Handrails on a ramp are only required when the ramp exceeds a 1 in 12 slope.
    For this discussion lets presume that the ramp has a =<1 in 12 slope.
    Ramps =< 1 in 12 slope do not require handrails.
    Again no handrails are shown in the OP’s photo, only guards.
    So does it meet the requirements for a Guard?
    Yes it does.
    Code R312.1 requires a guard to be at least 36” high WHEN the ramp is MORE THAN 30” above grade.
    When the ramp is less than 30” above grade there is no mention of height requirement for guards.

    Now if there is a handrail (required or not), the handrail must meet code requirements.
    What are the handrail requirements?
    R311.6.3.1 Handrail height is 34-38”
    R311.6.3.2 Shape and size
    R311.6.3.3 Only applies where the handrail is REQUIRED
    Does not apply when the handrail IS NOT required, even if installed.

    In conclusion
    The Guard in the OP’s photo does comply with code requirements, as a GUARD, not as a handrail.
    It would not meet the height, shape or size requirements for a handrail.
    But since there is not a handrail and a handrail is not required, it does comply with code.

    The statement above does not conflict with my previous statements
    My previous statements were in response to “rails” and “guardrails”, which I (and others) took as meaning handrails. If handrails were installed, the handrail must meet certain requirements.

    R311.6.3 Handrails required. Handrails shall be provided
    on at least one side of all ramps exceeding a slope of one unit
    vertical in 12 units horizontal (8.33-percent slope).
    R311.6.3.1 Height. Handrail height, measured above
    the finished surface of the ramp slope, shall be not less
    than 34 inches (864 mm) and not more than 38 inches
    (965 mm).
    R311.6.3.2 Handrail grip size. Handrails on ramps
    shall comply with Section R311.5.6.3.
    R311.6.3.3 Continuity. Handrails where required on
    ramps shall be continuous for the full length of the ramp.
    Handrail ends shall be returned or shall terminate in
    newel posts or safety terminals. Handrails adjacent to a
    wall shall have a space of not less than 1.5 inches (38
    mm) between the wall and the handrails.
    SECTION R312
    GUARDS
    R312.1 Guards. Porches, balconies, ramps or raised floor surfaces
    located more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor or
    grade below shall have guards not less than 36 inches (914 mm)
    in height. Open sides of stairs with a total rise of more than 30
    inches (762 mm) above the floor or grade below shall have
    guards not less than 34 inches (864 mm) in height measured
    vertically from the nosing of the treads.
    Porches and decks which are enclosed with insect screening
    shall be equipped with guards where the walking surface is
    located more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor or grade
    below.
    R312.2 Guard opening limitations. Required guards on open
    sides of stairways, raised floor areas, balconies and porches
    shall have intermediate rails or ornamental closures which do
    not allow passage of a sphere 4 inches (102mm) or more in
    diameter.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood View Post
    I concede the smoke alarm, not the ramp. You argue well.
    I don't consider it arguing as much as debate or discussion.
    But Thanks

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    RC,

    I agree, with what you said immediately above, (oops, you posted again, make that both immediately preceeding posts).

    It appears that the ramp continues to rise two-three planks (10-17.5" beyond the corner of the house where it transitions to the landing, that the topography beyond (around corner out and past the landing) may slope downhill a bit within 36" horontally from that landing around the corner) and that the landing is guarded at the appropriate minimum height for guarding there.

    Correct that handrails required at the landing or the ramp if slope is less than or equal to 1 in 12, ramp doesn't appear to exceed 8.33.

    Guard from the landing is returned to curb guard and deck where no guard is required by code, and there is no gap horizontally from this guard between the guard and the ramp surface. Appears ideally designed as a transition to a partial curb guard to transition point where no longer needed by the user; which would be ideal for party on wheeled mobility assitance device, self-powered, mechanically powered or powered by another (pushing or pulling), and also wouldn't interferre with transport rescue removal activities by paramedics, etc. (suggested by ADA when safety for the specific user).

    Looks like its ideally planned especially for the tidal or coastal area subject to ever-changing topography, especially how returning avoids surface collections of wind-borne sand, snow, and wind-borne debris from accumulating on the guard return to ramp surface and avoids depositing of either upon the critical area for safety, namely the navigatible sloped surface of the ramp itself.

    Appears very well planed and thoughtout especially for the location and use for and by one with mobility assistance needs.

    I'm guessing those that questioned the material around the pines & trees either missed the sand or are unfamilar with managing the effects of wind upon same (avoiding what is present from being blown away, yet avoiding snagging additional collections), also prevents the critters from gnawing at the base/cutting same down. Presume tidal area.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 04-18-2012 at 08:24 AM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    I indicated that A handrail is REQUIRED ONLY WHEN slope >1 in 12
    Reference my quote of R311.6.3

    But using "Handrail" instead of "Handrails" in my text would have been better

    Thank you Mr Watson

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    "As a code official I agree with Darrel; when a handrail or guardrail is not required it does not need to meet code required dimensions." (Post 195915)

    I stand by my statement as I was only addressing the dimensions of the handrail or guard. The code is clear that the dimension provisions only apply where the guard/handrail is required due to height of surface above the ground, number of risers, or slope of the ramp.

    As to strength, unless the guard is required I'm not sure that a code official, enforcing only the minimum requirements of the building code, has the authority to enforce the requirements of Table R301.5, but that is up to the local enforcement agency.

    If I were an HI I would certainly call a flimsy or otherwise non-code compliant guard/handrail whether it was required by the code or not.

    (A little help please.....how do you insert previous posts into a reply?)

    Thom Huggett, PE, SE, CBO

  28. #28
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Huggett View Post
    ...(A little help please.....how do you insert previous posts into a reply?)
    In side of the box for each post are three buttons on the lower right
    REPORT QUOTE and QUOTE+

    for this example I pressed QUOTE
    That takes you to a new post with the text from THAT post quoted.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Huggett View Post
    As a code official I agree with Darrel; when a handrail or guardrail is not required it does not need to meet code required dimensions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Huggett View Post
    "As a code official I agree with Darrel; when a handrail or guardrail is not required it does not need to meet code required dimensions." (Post 195915)

    I stand by my statement as I was only addressing the dimensions of the handrail or guard. The code is clear that the dimension provisions only apply where the guard/handrail is required due to height of surface above the ground, number of risers, or slope of the ramp.

    As to strength, unless the guard is required I'm not sure that a code official, enforcing only the minimum requirements of the building code, has the authority to enforce the requirements of Table R301.5, but that is up to the local enforcement agency.

    If I were an HI I would certainly call a flimsy or otherwise non-code compliant guard/handrail whether it was required by the code or not.

    (A little help please.....how do you insert previous posts into a reply?)
    In this example I used QUOTE +

    Inside of each post I pressed the QUOTE+ button
    But it does not go to new post
    I select another post to quote and press QUOTE+ in that box
    I do this for every post I want to quote
    When I have selected all the post I want to quote I go to the bottom of the thread and select POST REPLY
    Every post I selected will be in it's own quote box.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    In this example I used QUOTE +

    Inside of each post I pressed the QUOTE+ button
    But it does not go to new post
    I select another post to quote and press QUOTE+ in that box
    I do this for every post I want to quote
    When I have selected all the post I want to quote I go to the bottom of the thread and select POST REPLY
    Every post I selected will be in it's own quote box.

    Thanks for the help Rick...I was looking for the "QUOTE" button after I clicked on "POST REPLY".

    Thom Huggett, PE, SE, CBO

  31. #31
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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Handrails on a ramp are only required when the ramp exceeds a 1 in 12 slope.
    For this discussion lets presume that the ramp has a =<1 in 12 slope.
    Ramps =< 1 in 12 slope do not require handrails.
    .
    R311.6.3 Handrails required. Handrails shall be provided
    on at least one side of all ramps exceeding a slope of one unit
    vertical in 12 units horizontal (8.33-percent slope).
    Keep in mind that you will rarely find a ramp which exceeds 1 in 12 as ramps are not allowed to exceed 1 in 12 ... except ...

    From the 2006:
    - R311.6.1 Maximum slope. Ramps shall have a maximum slope of one unit vertical in twelve units horizontal (8.3-percent slope).
    - - Exception: Where it is technically infeasible to comply because of site constraints, ramps may have a maximum slope of one unit vertical in eight horizontal (12.5 percent slope).

    From the 2012: (section number has changed, that is all)
    - R311.8.1 Maximum slope.
    - - Ramps shall have a maximum slope of 1 unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (8.3-percent slope).
    - - - Exception: Where it is technically infeasible to comply because of site constraints, ramps may have a maximum slope of one unit vertical in eight horizontal (12.5-percent slope).

    "technically infeasible" does not mean that it is difficult to do, or that one just does not want it where it will fit or one does not like the looks of it - it means that it is ... technically ... infeasible ... that you basically cannot do it.

    Then, and only then, is the slope allowed to exceed 1 in 12, and even then the ramp is limited to 1 in 8.

    The above is discussing "handrails" being required for ramps over 1 in 12 - "guards" are still required if (and this is the difference between the 2006 and 2012 IRC comes in)

    - 2006
    - - R312.1 Guards. Porches, balconies, ramps or raised floor surfaces located more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor or grade belowshall have guards not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in height. Open sides of stairs with a total rise of more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor or grade below shall have guards not less than 34 inches (864 mm) in height measured vertically from the nosing of the treads.
    - - - Porches and decks which are enclosed with insect screening shall be equipped with guards where the walking surface is located more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor or grade below.
    - - R312.2 Guard opening limitations. Required guards on open sides of stairways, raised floor areas, balconies and porches shall have intermediate rails or ornamental closures which do not allow passage of a sphere 4 inches (102mm) or more in diameter.
    - - - Exceptions:
    - - - - 1. The triangular openings formed by the riser, tread and bottom rail of a guard at the open side of a stairway are permitted to be of such a size that a sphere 6 inches (152 mm) cannot pass through.
    - - - - 2. Openings for required guards on the sides of stair treads shall not allow a sphere 4 3/8 inches (107 mm) to pass through.

    - 2012
    - - R312.1.1 Where required.
    - - - Guards shall be located along open-sided walking surfaces, including stairs, ramps and landings, that are located more than 30 inches (762 mm) measured vertically to the floor or grade below at any point within 36 inches (914 mm) horizontally to the edge of the open side. Insect screening shall not be considered as a guard.
    - - R312.1.2 Height.
    - - - Required guards at open-sided walking surfaces, including stairs, porches, balconies or landings, shall be not less than 36 inches (914 mm) high measured vertically above the adjacent walking surface, adjacent fixed seating or the line connecting the leading edges of the treads.
    - - - - Exceptions:
    - - - - - 1. Guards on the open sides of stairs shall have a height not less than 34 inches (864 mm) measured vertically from a line connecting the leading edges of the treads.
    - - - - - 2. Where the top of the guard also serves as a handrail on the open sides of stairs, the top of the guard shall not be less than 34 inches (864 mm) and not more than 38 inches (965 mm) measured vertically from a line connecting the leading edges of the treads.
    - - R312.1.3 Opening limitations.
    - - - Required guards shall not have openings from the walking surface to the required guard height which allow passage of a sphere 4 inches (102 mm) in diameter.
    - - - - Exceptions:
    - - - - - 1. The triangular openings at the open side of stair, formed by the riser, tread and bottom rail of a guard, shall not allow passage of a sphere 6 inches (153 mm) in diameter.
    - - - - - 2. Guards on the open side of stairs shall not have openings which allow passage of a sphere 43/8 inches (111 mm) in diameter.
    - - R312.1.4 Exterior woodplastic composite guards.
    - - - Wood plastic composite guards shall comply with the provisions of Section R317.4.

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

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    Default Re: creative guard rail

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ...
    - 2012
    - - R312.1.2 Height.
    - - - Required guards at open-sided walking surfaces, including stairs, porches, balconies or landings, shall be not less than 36 inches (914 mm) high measured vertically above the adjacent walking surface, adjacent fixed seating or the line connecting the leading edges of the treads.
    ...
    .
    I was at an inspector class a few months ago that discussed this.
    They recommended to NOT install permanent seating on decks.
    With permanent seating the guard has to go above the seating surface 36".
    While non permanent (movable) seating the guards are only required to be 36" above the floor. Big difference in the look. A lot of (most) people will not like a guard that is 50+" tall.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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