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  1. #1
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    Default Question about stair rise and run

    I own an older home that was built in 1965 and has a 8" rise on the stairs and a 8" run on the threads. Is this code for that year? Did some looking on the web and the farthest back I found was 1976 (actually found it on here) but didn't find anything on 1965 or there abouts. Some of you fine folks mentioned in that thread of still have those old code books so it would be awesome if you wouldn't mind kicking the dust off them. Thanks a bunch.

    Jason

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Question about stair rise and run

    Hi Jason,

    I'm curious as to why you care whether or not it was built to "code" back then?


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Question about stair rise and run

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    Hi Jason,

    I'm curious as to why you care whether or not it was built to "code" back then?
    Well, gonna try to summarize this as much as possible. The basement is (well not at the moment but getting it back that way) also a living area in the home. It was built with a stone faced fireplace and bedrooms etc so it was intended to be that way from the get go. I had to completely gut the basement awhile back because we kept having water come into the basement and caused mold to form behind the walls. I found a few things that really explained why we had water issues in the first place (the original builders knocked holes in the cinder blocks to run the electrical) and other things. I repaired all the damage and we still had a water issue. So I had a professional service come in and water proof the entire basement as well as install egress windows into the bedrooms being we actually plan on using them 'we have a new addition to the family showing up here in the next few months'.

    I was working on getting furring strips on the walls and such for the drywall and trying to figure out how to get it attached around the stairs and look decent etc. During that time I noticed that one of the stringers is cracked the full length. I looked closer and saw that all 3 stringers are rotted out on the bottom behind the paint which covered it all up(probiably from cumulative water damage over the years). Not to mention there is no kickplate on the bottom which explains why the stairs seemed to have some bounce to them. Needless to say the stairs need to be repaired. I would just go ahead and update to the existing code like I did with the egress windows but that just can't be done unfortunately. Just don't have the headroom (about 6' 10" at the shortest going down and to get the additional head room means moving a steel I beam and the associated joists that runs the duration of the house so thats just not happening). I did some figuring and my stairs currently run about 45 degrees. By going with current standards it would make my stairs about 37 degrees at the most with a 7.75 riser and a 10" tread. Shorter riser would make the stair even less steep. I've done the math up and a 8 degree swing would knock the headroom down about 8-9 inches of headroom leaving about 6 foot or so. Just not a good idea.

    Stairs never seemed unusual to me being I grew up in an older home and had I think 45 degree stairs. So in short just trying to figure out if the original builders built it up to code at the time of construction basically for personal peace of mind. Because it isn't feasible to update to the newer spec obviously. Thanks for your help.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Question about stair rise and run

    Since you plan to use the basement as a living area, then all improvements you make will need to meet todays standard. Your local building department will likely allow you some leaway on existing nonconforming construction.

    You should definitly get all building permits as needed. If you skip the permits you could have a much larger problem later on, maybe sooner.

    You should know that since the house was built in 1965, any contractor you hire is required to be RRP certified.

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

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Question about stair rise and run

    Old BOCA and CABO, etc. allowed up to an 8-1/4" rise and a 9" minimum tread depth (3/4" "lip" or overhang thus 8-1/4" run) if I'm recalling correctly - thus an overall 8-1/4" rise and run but not the dimmensions of notching for how the stringers would have been cut.

    "Maryland" has many areas which have and do adopt codes locally. If I recall correctly headroom min. was (and may still be) 6'8".

    If your residence was originally built as part of a HUD/FHA or VA planned development differing standards may have been used which may have met or exceeded any, if present at the time, standards for building locally. Purely from vague memory, I believe a closed stair for HUD/VA planned development required a 10" min tread depth, which was often accomplished with a 1-1/4+ overhang and an ogee moulding support under the tread to the riser, and an open utility stair 9-1/4" minimum 5/4 stock, rounded (radius) nose tread with an overhang up to a 3/4 or 1" offset. Basement open-riser captured tread utility stair not uncommon 32-33" tread width in mid-60s.

    If I'm reading your OP correctly, before you became aware of water problems and the associated demolition to remediate those issues, and the addition of EEROs the basement was previously finished.

    Suspect this may have orginally been an open (riser) utility stairway which was later closed (risers) or altered improperly, thus either cutting off the tread lip, encroaching on the tread depth (riser rests on tread, thus shortening run/depth), or both.

    Since Maryland has many areas with local adoptions of both building (new) and property maintenance/rehabilitation codes with locally authored ammendments, suggest you check with your local authority having jurisdiction. More likely than not if REPAIRING the stair you will not have to meet new construction codes, presuming the original construction of the stair was as per prior permit, plan, etc, at the time the occupancy/habitability of the basement first changed or was established as habital, previously. Even the current unammended IRC codes have differing requirements for winding stairways, spiral stairs, and those that change direction.

    If your basement has a walk-out primary exit path, may not even be an issue to consider, old or new, since you now have EEROs installed, which presumed were done with local building permit and inspection. Again, check with your local building code authority.

    This question/topic belongs in the "questions from homeowners/buyers/DIY" area, you may find it has been relocated at some future date.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 02-20-2011 at 02:29 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Question about stair rise and run

    Hey Jason,

    Just so happens I'm building some staircases too, and also have head room concerns, one staircase involves is 41 degrees (with platform/turn), the other (to the attic) is 50 degrees (with 2 turns).

    Speak to an architect to be sure about having to comform to current codes (with the staircase). On any plan (if there are plans) it will be "existing," so probably will not be an issue. I would be more concerned that your sleeping room windows are right. Check your local code, you can also Google IRC R310 to get an idea.

    Good luck.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Question about stair rise and run

    Thanks for the information guys. The egress windows were put in about 2 years ago by the contractors that did the water proofing after the basement was gutted. Permits and such were pulled etc. We do have a secondary exit out the basement but it's a door with a Bilco on it which honestly has steeper steps than the ones I originally referenced.

    Mr Watson, now that you mention it that actually makes sense. I think my home along with 3-4 others were built as part of a development in the mid 60's. I have found items in and around the property that suggest it was part of a farm at one point (found an engine block, PTO shafts, the ducting for a silo etc all buried in a embankment next to my property) that was subdivided up and had homes built on it. Most of the homes next to me are within about 2-3 years in age from each other so definately makes sense. Thanks again.


  8. #8

    Default Re: Question about stair rise and run

    Jason,

    A couple of additional thoughts...
    Can you turn the stairs to allow for more room and change some joist to accommodate the "landing"?
    Second it is never a good idea to fur out a basement and one with existing water problems is even worse...Use full stud walls.

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

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