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JustJoe 01-27-2007 08:02 AM

code question
As I mentioned on an earlier post I was planning on helping a friend rebuild a basement apartment due to a fire. He was just told that he canít rebuild the basement apartment because he canít meet code for new construction.

The problem seems to be the stairway leading to the outside. He was told because he doesnít have the 6í 8Ē clearance between the thread and the ceiling that it doesnít qualify as a legal exit. It is also required to have a 3í landing at the bottom of the stairs which he canít meet.

There is no way to meet these requirements. Can they refuse to allow him to restore the basement just because of this one code issue if everything else will meet code. I understand the importance (safety) of this issue but can this be true

AtlanticWBConst. 01-27-2007 08:19 AM

Consider possibly rebuilding the stairs. The key is the layout of the stringers....This will require knowledge of stair tread and riser codes.
Try working out a way to change the riser and tread depths to gain head space. By altering these you can gain some amount of head space.
This actually is not as difficult as it may sound.

Landing Tip: When you lack enough space at the bottom of stairs for a 3' landing, just about all towns will allow this: Build out the last step as a landing. Then the occupant would just take one additional step down from the 'last step - landing' to the actual floor level.

JustJoe 01-27-2007 08:35 AM

I had a couple of contractor friends look at it and all tell me they canít make it meet code because the main support beam ends at the bottom stair. They calculated the riser height at 7 ĺ the thread at 10 ĺ. The height of the beam is only about 6í. No way to put landing half way down to change the direction of the stairs.

Can the building inspectors deny him the use of a basement apartment based only on this issue?


AtlanticWBConst. 01-27-2007 09:06 AM


Yes they can. In the code books, it falls under: Means of Egress.

It factors around an occupant's ability to vacate a living space under life threatening conditions. I.e - Smoke filled , burning house. Literal 'seconds' can effect whether a person survives or dies.

The codes are very specific and very strict in regards to this.

Everytime a tragedy occurs relative to a fire, the codes are re-scrutinized. Example of all of this; The station fire in Rhode Island.

Option that is costly: Create a new opening/access through the concrete.

Good luck on searching for other options with this...

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