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  1. #1
    Robby DeNicola's Avatar
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    Default Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    I am currently building a two family home in which myself and my brother will be living. I had my architect design guards for my two sets of stairs with a newel post at the top and bottom of the stairs and an intermediate post midway between those two. Spanning the three posts will be a code compliant handrail and below that 8, 3/8" stainless steel tubes running horizontally between the three posts. My local inspector said he would not pass it because it created a "ladder" affect. I then politely pointed out to him that the "ladder" affect verbiage was taken out of the IRC in 2001. He then told me that i didn't know what I was talking about, so I had a state building code official give me a ruling that clearly stated that railings with "horizontal or ornamental members that create a ladder affect are in fact ALLOWABLE by the NJ building code". I presented this information to my local inspector and he continued to refuse to pass it, sighting a paragraph in the UBC that states that in areas of fire, sanitary, structural and personnel safety, that are not specifically covered in the codem is up to his discretion. I then proceeded to point out that handrails and guardrails ARE IN FACT SPECIFICALLY COVERED IN THE IRC, and therefore were not left up to his discretion. He then proceeded to tell me that if I didn't like it I could wait 2-3 months and take it to the county board of appeals. I have been building this house for over 2 years, being bogged down with permitting delays and such and just want to move into my home. My wife however, insists that we have these guards (we already spend 4500 on custom open riser steps (which are code compliant in everyway). So my question to you helpful individuals is this, what would be a VERY low cost solution that I can put in to get my CO only to have it ripped out and the guards which I want installed at a later date. I would normally fight this, as I have fought other points of contention in this project, but I am currently living with my mother-in-law and cannot see myself continuing to inconvenience her as I waste 2-3 months appealing his ruling. Any ideas? What about using pvc diagonal deck lattice to span the three posts?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Quote Originally Posted by Robby DeNicola View Post
    I am currently building a two family home in which myself and my brother will be living. I had my architect design guards for my two sets of stairs with a newel post at the top and bottom of the stairs and an intermediate post midway between those two. Spanning the three posts will be a code compliant handrail and below that 8, 3/8" stainless steel tubes running horizontally between the three posts. My local inspector said he would not pass it because it created a "ladder" affect. I then politely pointed out to him that the "ladder" affect verbiage was taken out of the IRC in 2001. He then told me that i didn't know what I was talking about, so I had a state building code official give me a ruling that clearly stated that railings with "horizontal or ornamental members that create a ladder affect are in fact ALLOWABLE by the NJ building code". I presented this information to my local inspector and he continued to refuse to pass it, sighting a paragraph in the UBC that states that in areas of fire, sanitary, structural and personnel safety, that are not specifically covered in the codem is up to his discretion. I then proceeded to point out that handrails and guardrails ARE IN FACT SPECIFICALLY COVERED IN THE IRC, and therefore were not left up to his discretion. He then proceeded to tell me that if I didn't like it I could wait 2-3 months and take it to the county board of appeals. I have been building this house for over 2 years, being bogged down with permitting delays and such and just want to move into my home. My wife however, insists that we have these guards (we already spend 4500 on custom open riser steps (which are code compliant in everyway). So my question to you helpful individuals is this, what would be a VERY low cost solution that I can put in to get my CO only to have it ripped out and the guards which I want installed at a later date. I would normally fight this, as I have fought other points of contention in this project, but I am currently living with my mother-in-law and cannot see myself continuing to inconvenience her as I waste 2-3 months appealing his ruling. Any ideas? What about using pvc diagonal deck lattice to span the three posts?
    PVC will flex that will give your AHJ heartburn as well. Why not build a wood handrail and guards out of 2X's, add a proper graspable handrail to it. It will take some design work but it will be about the lowest cost thing I can think of.

    Is the inspector also the CBO for the town, if not then you could go over his/her head to the CBO who is their boss. But, this could also only make it worse on you with other items in the home.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Scott,
    Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, this individual is the town Building officer as well. I will price up cheap lumber as you have suggested and see what it comes to. The only reason I suggested some kind of in fill is because I have about 45 lineal feet of handrail that needs to have guards. It can get expensive pretty quickly to only rip it out later. If I can find some kind of cheap in fill I can use the actual posts and handrials I want and just remove the infill and slide in my stainless steel bars. Thanks!


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    What about using 2 x 2 pine furring strips as balusters. I can get 8 foot lengths for about $1.70. My only question is do you have any way of attaching them to my treads that would make them easily removable wihtout damaging my steps? Unfortunately my steps are already stained and finished. I'd hate to nail them, then have to rip the nails out, fill the holes, resand, and restain and polyurethane...I'm not sure the stain would match the rest of it. I suppose I could just use ONE finishing nail to hold it in place. What do you think?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Quote Originally Posted by Robby DeNicola View Post
    What about using 2 x 2 pine furring strips as balusters. I can get 8 foot lengths for about $1.70. My only question is do you have any way of attaching them to my treads that would make them easily removable wihtout damaging my steps? Unfortunately my steps are already stained and finished. I'd hate to nail them, then have to rip the nails out, fill the holes, resand, and restain and polyurethane...I'm not sure the stain would match the rest of it. I suppose I could just use ONE finishing nail to hold it in place. What do you think?
    If you go this way you could add a bottom rail (like you would normally see on a deck) so you would not have to put any fasteners in the treads.
    Plexiglass between the post would work, you could leave the railing as is, it would be less intrusive and look better?


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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    I was going to mention the plexiglass as well. Possibly some small U-bolts to fasten it to the steel tubing, which can then be removed after the CO is issued.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Thanks for the suggestion guys but just one question. Isn't plexiglass crazy expensive?? Or would I just need a very thick sheet, not an actual load bearing piece but just kind of like a fill in.


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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Quote Originally Posted by Robby DeNicola View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion guys but just one question. Isn't plexiglass crazy expensive?? Or would I just need a very thick sheet, not an actual load bearing piece but just kind of like a fill in.
    How about some cheap stained plywood as a filler. I don't think there is anything in the codes that says that it has to be pretty/hansom, just complaint. ((think there may be a marriage joke in there somewhere )))


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    While your building inspector is incorrect in his statement, you need to understand that building codes are MINIMUM requirements.

    I do not understand your, and your wife's, insistence installing an unsafe guardrail. I have know people who insist on placing "style" over "safety", sounds like that is the stance you and your wife have taken.

    Contact your insurance company and ask them what it will cost for them to SPECIFICALLY insure those guard railings against any and all accidents. Sure, you can not contact your insurance company and wait for an accident, then try to argue that the guard rails "met code", but their search of information will most likely bring up the fact that you building inspector did all he could do to convince you NOT to install those railings, and your claim may well be denied.

    You say that your "open riser" stair is code compliant, okay, describe why your "open riser" stair is indeed compliant - there is a good possibility that it is not compliant in every aspect.

    You came here asking a group of people who make it their business to identify problems and potential safety hazards as you describe, and you want us to help you injure someone? Not me, not other than to tell you as I did above that your building inspector is incorrect and that the code is minimum and that you should be allowed to kill all the kids you want on your stairs.

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

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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    You architect should throw his weight their direction... He is the architect!


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Like Jerry suggests, thin the herd.

    We need more ladder climbers for the future. Those that can climb without falling. Or can survive the fall. This may be a new way to develop a better gene pool

    Sick your architect on them. They are a brutish lot and always love a good fight.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    - Get the architect involved, its his credibility on the line as well
    - Talk to your local alderman, councilman whatever you have where you are
    - Buy 1/4's plexiglass panels and install them. You can source out sheets at reasonable prices
    - Have your attorney send the Muni a demand letter

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Check out the local baby store and see if they have the plastic covers that go over spindles. Something like this: http://www.protectenfant.com/procart/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=83



    Also, check with the official to see if he will accept it while you go through the appeals process, or maybe that will be the end of it. You should also ask for a conditional use occupancy permit while you appeal, if you go that route, so you can move in with the temp barrier in place. You might not get it if he thinks itís a safety issue, but with the barrier, and the State ruling you have a good case to get it.

    You might want to call the County to see if it will really take 2-3 months, might be sooner.


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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Tempered glass, then you won't have a ladder effect, percieved or real, your grandkids will be safe and every body's happy. Don't forget down the road when you decide to sell - same story.

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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    I think we would all like to see some pics of this railing


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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Are you dealing with the inspector or the construction official?
    What town are you In?

    You can call John Terry at the DCA @ 609-984-7609 and ask for his advice.

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Chicken wire and zip ties

    Mark Fisher
    Allegany Inspection Service - Cumberland MD 21502 - 301-722-2224
    Home Inspections, Mold Testing, Thermal Imaging

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    ........lots of good ideas to fight this issue. But, you know, I've called out railings built as you describe as being unsafe for kids because of "climbability". Maybe you ought to listen to to the inspector/AHJ - he might just know a little more than you and is protecting you from your poor judgement


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kleisch View Post
    Check out the local baby store and see if they have the plastic covers that go over spindles.
    That stuff does not meet the strength requirements for guard in-fill panels.

    Let the guy kill his kids, his grand kids, and his neighbors kids, all for the sake of wanting to create a ladder for them to climb - heck, make it easier, place a see-saw balanced on the railing, first one on takes the 'balcony' seat, next one on gets to climb out onto the 'overlook' seat, now let the games begin ... sheesh!

    There must be a lot more fun and creative ways to get rid of those unwanted kids than worrying about stupid ladder guardrail ... especially after the inspector has tried to beat it into you thick skull that those ladder guardrails are dangerous.

    You just cannot fix STUPID, and here is PROOF of it.

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

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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards




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    Post Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    The real problem is location. New Jersey has a problem with interpretation of the law, in a general sense. Aside from that, if your architect designed the stairway to be code-compliant, then you may want to avoid wasting any more breath talking to the code inspector. It will be less expensive to have your attorney do that. One precisely timed question from your attorney to the code inspector will move things along quite nicely, I think: "what do you suppose your financial net worth is valued at today?"

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    Quote Originally Posted by CHRIS KRUSE View Post
    Well that's a bit over the top. Is that relevant to this thread somehow?

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    At first I thought that maybe I posted this picture on the wrong thread, but I didn't.

    I read the child safey concern expressd by the other memebers.. and I have changed my mind about having the architect fight the city inspector..
    A picture is worth a word or 2. ..yeah..a little over the top..but relevant.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Unreasonable inspector - temporary guards

    WTF? This is a photo from various web sites about Israeli war crimes, and you put it on the newsgroup about a guard rail for stairs.

    Gaza: Photographic Evidence of Extensive Israeli War Crimes | Global Research

    Take your crap somewhere else, we don't want it here.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

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