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  1. #1
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Do these steps need a handrail?

    This is a set of outside steps at a townhouse. They have 5 risers and each step is 24" deep and 36" wide. The code says steps with 4 or more risers need a handrail. Does that apply here? I thought maybe the steps being so deep would be an exception but I can not find anything that says that.

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  2. #2
    Bruce King's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do these steps need a handrail?

    I would say yes unless those are big enough to be considered "landings"

    It looks like the builders way to omit handrails and maybe the AHJ allowed it.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
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    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do these steps need a handrail?

    But don't landings require a continuous handrail too? And I agree about the AHJ letting it slide. There is a couple of hundred done the same way in this complex.


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    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do these steps need a handrail?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    But don't landings require a continuous handrail too? And I agree about the AHJ letting it slide. There is a couple of hundred done the same way in this complex.

    It is a stepped walkway. I would not see any reason what so ever to add a railing unless you have an elderly couple that likes or needs something to hols on to for their walk to the mail box.

    As far as landing there is a height of 30 inches that would require a railing. These stepped walkway pads are not high enough off the ground for a railing and it is not a continuous step. Step up and take a step and then step up again,

    I am sure someone will come out with the code trying to pull it into some sort of have to, but I just do not see it.

    Ted Menelly, Castle Home Inspection Services
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    Fort Worth, Keller, Southlake, Plano, Flower Mound, DFW, TX

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    Bruce King's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do these steps need a handrail?

    I can't find anything about a maximum limit for stair tread depth.

    Irregular stair designs are unsafe for many people regardless of what code says. I might report a safety upgrade recommendation at the most there.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

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    Default Re: Do these steps need a handrail?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    This is a set of outside steps at a townhouse. They have 5 risers and each step is 24" deep and 36" wide. The code says steps with 4 or more risers need a handrail. Does that apply here? I thought maybe the steps being so deep would be an exception but I can not find anything that says that.

    Generally, Yes. (unamended IRC), and you also require guards. That appears to be the primary exit door for the residence and it is a STAIRWAY, as pictured it also is an EGRESS/EXIT.

    Inside the pictured door is the first landing.

    You have two intermediate landings. The first intermediate "landing" from outside the exit is the covered porch. This "riser" from threshold is not compliant (equal in rise/height with the other risers in the stairway) and/or if not meant to be a riser, the threshold is, or rather appears to be TOO HIGH.

    This first exterior "landing", the covered porch, which due to the necessary risers from same to get to GRADE, and the STEEP grade slope that has been filled on the sides and front, requires guards. The next four risers (three steps 24" deep, 36" wide) take you to what appears to be the lowest intermediate landing pictured (36" deep minimum x 36" wide). If that lowest landing or step (if it is NOT 36" deep but is more than 24" deep then it too would not be in compliance). See one more riser after this apparent intermediate landing to I presume grade and the final landing. Although the lowest "intermediate landing" appears "level" if the slope of that lowest landing exceeds permissible pitch within 36" out/deep in the direction of travel, it too would need to be corrected.

    A continuous and returned handrail is required for each flight of stairS within the stairway. Intermediate landing areas do not necessarily require a handrail but may require a guard. As the majority of this (uncovered) is an exterior stairway, but appears to be less than 30" in total elevation, but it is hard to say without a scale or measurements given, I don't think the lowestl intermediate landing will requre a guard - and likely the handrail can be terminated above to a newel there or on the step above. (presuming that is the final riser seen at the lowest in the photo and lands "landing" at unsloped for 36" deep (path of travel) and wide.




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    Default Re: Do these steps need a handrail?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce King View Post
    I can't find anything about a maximum limit for stair tread depth.
    Using 2006 IRC (& 2006 IBC definitions), since IIRC (if I recall correctly) 2009 NC Res Code is based on 2006 IRC with corrections and NC ammendments.

    R311.5.3.2 Tread depth. The minimum tread depth shall be 10 inches (254 mm). The tread depth shall be measured horizontally between the vertical planes of the foremost projection of adjacent treads and at a right angle to the tread's leading edge. The greatest tread depth within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8 inch (9.5 mm).

    Once you "hit" 36" in actual depth and in all directions of travel and clear width - you've "hit" a landing, platform, etc. in a straight stairway, and thus the end or beginning "landing" point of a "flight of stairs"

    R201.3 Terms Defined in other codes. Where terms are not defined in this code such terms shall have meanings ascribed to them as in other code publications of the International Code Counci

    IBC
    Section 1002 Definitions

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

    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.

    STAIRWAY, EXTERIOR. A stairway that is open on at least one side, except for required structural columns, 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.

    STAIRWAY, INTERIOR. A stairway not meeting the definition of an exterior stairway.



  8. #8
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    Default Re: Do these steps need a handrail?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    But don't landings require a continuous handrail too? And I agree about the AHJ letting it slide. There is a couple of hundred done the same way in this complex.
    IIRC 2009 North Carolina Res Code is based on 2006 IRC, with clarifications and NC ammendments.

    Intermediate landings or platforms within an EXTERIOR STAIRWAY do not necessarily requiire a handrail but they may require a guard.

    Unammended (2006 IRC) Code uses "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 the individual tread or platform's individual elevation above adjacent (side) grade in requiring guards at R312.1 Guards. Continuity of handrails is addressed at
    R311.5.6.2 Continuity, and 2% max slope (steep) of treads and landings is addressed at R311.5.5 Stairway walking surface.

    HTH.


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