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  1. #1
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    Default Exterior steps handrails

    Do you need a handrail along both sides of an exterior staircase greater than 44 inches in width for residential property. Or is that just for commercial property.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    From the 2012 IRC: (underlining is mine)
    - R311.7.8 Handrails.
    - - Handrails shall be provided on at least one side of each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Edwards View Post
    Do you need a handrail along both sides of an exterior staircase greater than 44 inches in width for residential property. Or is that just for commercial property.
    Only commercial. Residential property is exempted from that rule.

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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Gunnar

    all commercial stairways that serve 50 or more occupants must be 44 inches wide at minimum--but i believe any stairway with three or more threads and 44 inches wide require handrails on both sides--because two people can walk those stairs together and they both need handrail--correct me if i am wrong

    cvf

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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    Gunnar

    all commercial stairways that serve 50 or more occupants must be 44 inches wide at minimum--but i believe any stairway with three or more threads and 44 inches wide require handrails on both sides--because two people can walk those stairs together and they both need handrail--correct me if i am wrong

    cvf
    Not Gunnar, but ...

    NO building constructed under the residential code requires 2 handrails - regardless of the width of the stair.

    I said it as "constructed under the residential code" because "that other" code also has residential occupancies, some of which are exempt from the handrail on each side and some of which are not exempt from the handrail on each side requirement.

    "Commercial" is a term used for "that other" code, but it also includes residential occupancies.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    jerry

    is there an answer there?? lost on your reply

    cvf


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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    all commercial stairways that serve 50 or more occupants must be 44 inches wide at minimum--but i believe any stairway with three or more threads and 44 inches wide require handrails on both sides--because two people can walk those stairs together and they both need handrail--correct me if i am wrong
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    NO building constructed under the residential code requires 2 handrails - regardless of the width of the stair.
    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    jerry

    is there an answer there?? lost on your reply

    cvf
    Charlie,

    I simplified my answer to your question in the above (left out the explanatory information).

    Is that better?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Thanks guys. So residential only one handrail regardless of width, and Charlie the image you posted is in the Horizon software that I use so there is my confusion.


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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Edwards View Post
    Thanks guys. So residential only one handrail regardless of width, and Charlie the image you posted is in the Horizon software that I use so there is my confusion.
    That drawing is missing a guard on one side of the stairs.

    For residential, a guard rail is required on each open side of the stair, a handrail is only required on one side.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    I stand corrected. In my defense, I was in a hurry and answered quickly, figuring that would suffice. That'll teach me to take short cuts!

    In addition to JP's post, I will add two things.

    1) Local jurisdictions might require two handrails on residences, even if the model code is the IRC. For example, the California Residential Code has required a 42" high guard (rail) instead of the IRC's 36" for a few years now. Apparently, Californians are the only folks in the U.S. that can fall off of a deck with a 36" high guard. Best to check with the AHJ to be certain.

    2) As inspectors, we can suggest an additional handrail. Nothing wrong with that. It would exceed code, but it would also arguably be safer.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    I suggest you forget about these codes. Some of these codes are minimal and should be under review.

    We have an aging population and some of us with low vision so therefore, you should always recommend installing a graspable handrail on both sides of the stairs regardless of how many steps there are and definitely if its 44" wide.


    Suzanne


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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanne Clark View Post
    I suggest you forget about these codes. Some of these codes are minimal and should be under review.

    We have an aging population and some of us with low vision so therefore, you should always recommend installing a graspable handrail on both sides of the stairs regardless of how many steps there are and definitely if its 44" wide.


    Suzanne

    ALL codes are minimums and ALL codes are always under review.

    "Recommending" something which is "safer" and above code is good practice, but "recommendations" cannot be enforced by the buyer onto the seller, whereas in many (most?) cases minimum code can by used to the benefit of the buyer.

    But ... if you are going to "recommend" something above minimum code, why would you stop at, say, 44" wide? 80" wide with handrails every 36" is even safer ... and an elevator would be even safer ... and ... (I am sure you see where the "safer" aspect is going) ... and you certainly DO NOT want to make a recommendation which states that 44" is SAFE ... "safeR" maybe, but I would never go with "safe" as that puts all liability squarely in your own pocket (hope you have deep pockets if you say "safe").

    Words matter, that is how reports are created, so make sure not to hang oneself using words such as "safe".

    I just had a case where the opposing attorney tried to use "safer" as his beating stick - yet there was no seat belt for the witness chair, the bailiff was not armed, and the opposing attorney was wearing a belt but not suspenders ... anything can be made "safer" ... but the code only "requires" a stated minimum requirement, once that is met, any attempt to require something "safer" is met with a never ending list of things and ways they could be "safer".

    Is your car "safe" to drive?

    You sure?

    Will it exceed the speed limit? Will it turn sharp enough to roll over? Will it automatically avoid crashes? Will it put out a car fire by itself if a car fire starts? Will it ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Our residential reports are written for the buyer(s). We use the term "required" when the inspection item does not meet today's code, (still not enforceable) and we use the term "recommend" to promote quality and safety. We promote above and beyond.

    Suzanne


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanne Clark View Post
    Our residential reports are written for the buyer(s). We use the term "required" when the inspection item does not meet today's code, (still not enforceable) and we use the term "recommend" to promote quality and safety. We promote above and beyond.

    Suzanne
    If you are acting as the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) then using "required" would be correct.

    If you are acting as a home inspector, using "required" in your reports is the completely wrong term ...

    ... like me stating that you are "required" to stop using the term "required" in your reports.

    See how silly and unprofessional that sounds - *I* have no means to "require" you to do anything, just like you have no means to "require" anyone to do anything in relation to your reports.

    Using the term "required" in your reports degrades the perceived value of the rest of the information in your reports.

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

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Point taken John. Our reports are based on opinion (s) not enforceable.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    To all inspectors on this thread, my previous comments on installing handrails on both sides of stairs was not intended to be hurtful or to diminish someone else's opinion or comments. You are entitled to your opinions.

    My recommendations to our clients is to install handrails on both sides of stairs for occupant safety.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Sorry but I must comment on this. In the report required is completely different.
    Sorry, Kevin, but "required" means "required" and if something is written up as being "required" to be corrected ... then it is improperly written up.

    Now, a home inspector must "inspect" "required" items (as "required" by their SoP or licensing), but a home inspector cannot "require" anything to be corrected.

    [quote]You can tell a Client they are required as a regular practice to keep a stack vent higher on the north side above the anticipated snow level.

    Ahh ... now you are referring to 'something being required by something else', which is not the context in which is was being used. That is like saying that the code "requires" one handrail (or two, as the case may be if you AHJ requires two handrails), but that is not the same as it was presented in that their reports in which they "require" some things and "recommend" other things.

    Well if you don't listen you may fall into the trap of many and go to the minimum code for advice, causing injury or even death.
    Nope - one goes to the minimum code to find out what is "required" versus what is what someone "wants or wishes".

    It is all fine and dandy to "want and wish" for things to be better, but once you start "recommending" something, unless what you are "recommending" is the absolute best which can be attained (regardless of cost), then you have held that "recommendation" up as being suitable and safe ... and when the trap door is open with no guard rail around it, then one may fall into that open trap ... which, yes, could lead to "causing injury or even death" or even financial ruin.

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

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    I will always but heads with you on code. But that is what my Clients like.
    We're not butting heads on addressing code - if you think we are then you need to go back and re-read the last few posts as they have nothing to do with addressing code ... you simply don't understand what the discussion has been about.

    I have always (or almost always) encouraged home inspectors to get to know the codes in their area and address codes, either specifically as in quoting and citing codes or generally by referencing the minimum requirements of code.

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

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    I like the saying "The code is a floor to work up from rather than a ceiling to reach for" it is the minimum required.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    ".. as required by current standards, for safety."

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Exterior steps handrails

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    The minimum building code is the first small step to many steps of "required" safety standards of today.
    Or

    The building code is the most unsafe (least safe) one is legally allowed to construct something - and (blah, blah, blah) does not even meet those requirements. (And, if one chooses, state the requirements not met, in this case that would be riser heights, tread depths and variation.)

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