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Old 09-20-2008, 12:40 AM   #16
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Question about stairwell width


Sorry to hear about your surgery, but it seems you are "up and at 'em." At least you are up late and at 'em on the internet anyways!

Thank you for the great link you provided.

The information regarding the clear width above the handrails gives me some new material to think about.

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Old 09-20-2008, 12:42 AM   #17
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Question about stairwell width


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Sorry to spook you.
Great news! Admittedly I came here to get spooked. I just want to do this as right as possible, all things taken into consideration.

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Old 09-20-2008, 12:48 AM   #18
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Question about stairwell width


I wanted to make it known that I am not trying to be cheap, lazy, or disregard the stair code. I just want to avoid spending a ton of time, money, and headache if the inspector would have let me slide with the 35" wide stair well.

Keep in mind we talking about whomever would be inspecting the dwelling for a mortgage. I'm conveniently assuming (I know, I know) that person's requirements would not be as demanding as a city building inspector.

What's your take on the difference between whatever kind of inspector a mortgage company sends out and an inspector who works for a municipality?

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Old 09-20-2008, 01:32 AM   #19
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What's your take on the difference between whatever kind of inspector a mortgage company sends out and an inspector who works for a municipality?
I don't think you're off-base in your thoughts that a mortgage company inspector won't be as code-based as a City guy like myself. It is pretty much a shot in the dark though...You never know. My thinking is that those guys are inspecting the home for issues that would cause it to lose value since they're holding the note, whereas we're concentrating on life safety (value retention is a side effect of our work). They're working to avoid fires, structural failures, or floods that would cause a drastic hit on the value. Admittedly, I only have a lot of experience with pre-purchase inspectors that people and real estate folks hire, not inspectors working specifically for the lender. In my experience, the majority of pre-purchase inspectors have a loose understanding of code, and are looking for things like cracking, radon, and incorrect wiring and plumbing. Trust me, they tend to follow us around and look over our shoulder when we're on site at the same time. I have encountered a number of very consciencious and knowledgeable pre-purchase inspectors however.

Even inspectors that work for municipalities vary greatly in knowledge and strictness. Some can barely tell you what color the codebook is, some can cite numerical code sections without looking them up.

Honestly though, your guess is as good as mine. I'd of course advocate making that stair 36" wide. It is easier now than it is later!

I certainly don't get the impression you're trying to cheat or circumvent the code requirement. Mistakes happen, and this sounds like one. You just might have to take your lumps like a man when the inspection happens.

Last edited by Termite; 09-20-2008 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:37 AM   #20
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Sorry to hear about your surgery, but it seems you are "up and at 'em." At least you are up late and at 'em on the internet anyways!
Yeah, I slept off my anesthesia hangover for about 4 hours this afternoon, so now I'm not tired. Thank goodness for DVR TV and the internet.

Plus, they're making me wear what are essentially pantyhose to prevent swelling and clots...So, between the pain and my hot sexy legwear I'm pretty happy staying home all weekend. The wife is getting a real kick out of the pantyhose...It certainly isn't a good look for me.
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:38 AM   #21
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Honestly though, your guess is as good as mine. I'd of course advocate making that stair 36" wide. It is easier now than it is later!
Oh man...I'm having wild visions of using a router to hog out the area directly above the hand rail up to the 6'8" mark. This would making a unique architectural feature, and buy me 1" at the same time. Of course I don't think that is the right thing to do, but it did pop into my mind!

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Old 09-20-2008, 01:40 AM   #22
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Question about stairwell width


Just don't overnotch bearing studs. Max 25% of the depth.

It would look silly anyway.
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:55 AM   #23
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Question about stairwell width


I even thought of removing the 1/2" sheetrock and replacing it with 1/4" sheetrock. That would buy me 1/2". Still not doing it right, though.

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Old 09-20-2008, 01:56 AM   #24
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It would look silly anyway.
Aw...I know. I couldn't help it. The thought just popped into my mind.

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Old 09-20-2008, 02:04 AM   #25
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Of course there is always the spiral staircase option. I think I have room for that in the living area. It would partially cover a window, though. Not sure if that would matter or not. I don't have any idea how much a simple metal spiral staircase would cost, though.

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Old 09-20-2008, 02:12 AM   #26
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Spiral...

Grab your ankles.

Honestly, you'll have a less functional staircase if you went with spiral than you would with a 35" wide conventional one. Fact is that a spiral stair can be the only one serving the floor and is totally legal. That's the logic I use in not getting too excited when someones' stair is an inch narrow.
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:09 AM   #27
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Question about stairwell width


Hey guys, just wandered back in...

My info is pulled from the OR Res. Spec. Code which I was told was worded based on the IRC. I don't have an actual copy of the IRC to double-check. My apologies if my information is not applicable to your situation.

Sec. R311.5.1 Width Stairways shall not be less than 36" in clear width at all points above the permitted handrail height and below the required headroom height. etc. etc.
Exceptions:
1. Width of spiral staircases etc. etc.
2. Where a floor is served by more than one stairway, stairways other than the first stairway may have a clear width of not less than 30".

Again, if someone does have an actual copy of the '06 IRC and can double check that that wording is NOT in it, I apologize for muddying up the waters...

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Old 09-20-2008, 12:58 PM   #28
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It is best to build everything as safe as possible.

Know that your "mortgage inspector" cares about one thing.

Is the banks money safe. If you default..will they ..can they get their money back? Have they paid ahead on their construction loan? Has the loan money been spent on the property?

In the immortal words of DEEP throat... Follow the Money...
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:49 PM   #29
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I inquired about a potential exception for secondary stairs in the '06 IRC on a building codes forum online. I'm getting a lot of responses that indicate that those guys are unaware of anything that would allow non-compliant secondary stairs to be installed in a residence.
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Old 09-21-2008, 09:57 AM   #30
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Monday I am going to call another GC I know and see if he has a copy of 2006 IRC. I remember him telling me he had some inspection problems when he built stairs inside the shop of his HVAC business. So, now that he has his stair situation taken care of, he may be well versed in local regs.

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