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Old 08-30-2010, 05:56 PM   #1
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


My contractor wants to build us some steps using standard cement blocks 8x8x16. This means that the step-to-step height is 8" and this is too big for my wife and I. I thought "old-people" steps should be 6-7" and I don't think any code allows 8" riser anyway. It seems difficult to do this with standard blocks. He wants 3 steps that are too tall; I want 4 shallower steps, that will cause him some difficulty. Are there non-standard block sizes or should we just cut them?

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Old 08-30-2010, 06:48 PM   #2
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


In most locales, yes. 7-3/4" is usually max. Tread usually is to be 10" or more.

But if he is not putting mortar between the blocks, he will be legal in most areas because blocks run about 7-5/8 high.

Here's a set I suggested for someone else on DIY. The blocks with the blue cavities showing are turned that way so his dog could hide under there and look out.
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Old 08-30-2010, 07:18 PM   #3
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


Well I can't really bother the building inspector any more since I have already harassed him twice about this project, but I guess that 7" is max here. Anyway, my wife would be happier with a shorter riser ~6.5" due to her two knee replacements etc. How would you NOT use mortar to hold the blocks together?
I saw a set of stairs built with "wall stones" at http://www.kleinberg.com/stepconstruction.htm but I'm not sure where to find these. I think they are used to make retaining walls and come in various sizes (heights) that are different than cinder blocks.
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Old 08-30-2010, 07:22 PM   #4
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


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Well I can't really bother the building inspector any more since I have already harassed him twice about this project, but I guess that 7" is max here. Anyway, my wife would be happier with a shorter riser ~6.5" due to her two knee replacements etc. How would you NOT use mortar to hold the blocks together?
I saw a set of stairs built with "wall stones" at http://www.kleinberg.com/stepconstruction.htm but I'm not sure where to find these. I think they are used to make retaining walls and come in various sizes (heights) that are different than cinder blocks.
Fill all the voids with concrete to lock everything together. Actually some structures are built with not only no mortar, but very few voids filled. They are honestly held together with a stucco-like coating on the outside....... and it is legal.
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Old 08-30-2010, 07:32 PM   #5
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


You are the one paying to have the steps built ?
In that case you should be paying to have them built the way you want
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Old 08-30-2010, 07:36 PM   #6
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


Yep, your codes do seem to call for them different than the contractor wants to build them.

As far as I can tell, Brighton follows this code:

1009.3 Stair treads and risers. Stair riser heights shall be 7 inches (178 mm) maximum and 4 inches (102 mm) minimum. Stair tread depths shall be 11 inches (279 mm) minimum. The riser height shall be measured vertically between the leading edges of adjacent treads. The greatest riser height within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 0.375 inch (9.5 mm). The tread depth shall be measured horizontally between the vertical planes of the foremost projection of adjacent treads and at 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 0.375 inch (9.5 mm). Winder treads shall have a minimum tread depth of 11 inches (279 mm) measured at a right angle to the tread's leading edge at a point 12 inches (305 mm) from the side where the treads are narrower and a minimum tread depth of 10 inches (254 mm). The greatest winder tread depth at the 12-inch (305 mm) walk line within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 0.375 inch (9.5 mm).
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Old 08-30-2010, 08:31 PM   #7
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


How did you find this? The building inspector told me that the code was not written down someplace I could see it! You are supposed to guess and then see if it is approved (?). Thanks.
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Old 08-30-2010, 09:10 PM   #8
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


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How did you find this? The building inspector told me that the code was not written down someplace I could see it! You are supposed to guess and then see if it is approved (?). Thanks.
Your hometown site states that they have adopted the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.

This came from that code. Here is a link to the code. You will have to dig more deeply to discover exactly the parts you want, but this is the index page. What you are looking for starts on the first page, the first choice at the top.......

Building Code of New York State /

Chapter 10 - Means of Egress /

Section 1009 - Stairways and Handrails /

Subdivision 1009.3 - Stair treads and risers.

(You may have to scroll down some on the last page to read the details.)


http://publicecodes.citation.com/st/ny/st/index.htm
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Old 08-31-2010, 05:38 AM   #9
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


This is very helpful. Thanks. Of course the construction guy is going to buy all the cement blocks before I can tell him it won't work.
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Old 08-31-2010, 05:47 AM   #10
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


He can return the blocks.

Lots of ways to build stairs without blocks.

You’re the customer, stand your ground.
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:14 AM   #11
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


I have already been a PITA by making him return a pile of lumber for a deck I didn't want. He is so enthusiastic that he wants to build stuff faster than we can decide what we want. Plus my wife is in Hawaii while this is going on and communication is not instant due to 6-hour time difference.
Code may be different in City of Rochester compared to just over the line in Brighton; this may be throwing him off.
Bad customer!
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:33 AM   #12
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


Well if you have to be a PITA to get what you want then so be it.

Giving the customer “what they want” is my primary job.

You can deal with him now or your wife later.

As long as what you want is code compliant and he wont do it for you he shouldn’t be there IMO.
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:41 AM   #13
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


You can be sure that the 7" maximum rise is correct----
The state determines the minimum requirements for any code---
Then the county or village can get stricter--but not less than the minimum that the state has set.
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:08 AM   #14
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


If you are permitting and being inspected - and you should be, since resale will be a problem if you don't - he HAS to build everything to code. He has no choice.
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Old 08-31-2010, 05:13 PM   #15
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Isn't 8" riser height too big?


I now believe it is impossible to build these stairs to code using cement blocks unless the blocks are custom made.
1) Base cement patio is tilted away from the house at about twice the pitch allowed for drainage on the stairs (1" per 48" is max). Tilt cannot be corrected by raising up the edge of the steps because top step is 4' long landing and others are normal 11" ; correcting tilt messes up rise uniformity.
2) Trying to get from the fixed patio height up to the door with equally spaced risers requires blocks of an odd size.

Maybe a concrete form is needed and forget the blocks.

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