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Old 09-21-2008, 10:44 AM   #31
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Question about stairwell width


Can you give me some suggestions as to how to approach an inspector to ask him questions. I don't have any idea who the inspector might be, and even if I did I wouldn't want to bring attention to a area he might not have been concerned with.

What is the proper name for people who administer inspections for mortgage brokers?

Should I just call one up and ask what they look for as far as stairs go?

Thanks
jonblack

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Old 09-21-2008, 11:54 AM   #32
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Question about stairwell width


I don't really know. I'd suggest finding out who your mortgage company is going to use, and see if you can contact them. I'd be specific and ask your question directly. It is easier to change this now than it is to change it later.

If you can't contact the person who'll be doing the inspection, the call is a waste of time. You need to know what that guy is going to do, not someone else's opinion.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:00 PM   #33
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Question about stairwell width


Make perfect sense.

Thank you
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:01 PM   #34
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Question about stairwell width


Just a couple of thoughts/questions for good or bad -

1. Make the stairway look as light, bright, clean and safe as possible. This will sit well with a "money" inspector but also fools code inspectors. - Realtors do it all the time when staging for a sale.

2. I hope you have all the separation walls and floor fire rated.

3. You (or your kids) will eventually want to sell the place so make it as convenient and safe for yourself as possible and attractive for the next owner.

4. Building codes are just minimums on paper. An old inspector I worked for in the dark ages said "You are never wrong going by the code, but you may not be right".

Have you ever tried to move bulky furniture (sofas, dressers, refrigerators, etc) up and down a stairway like you propose? - If you have a crane and a big window this might not be a problem.

Dick

2.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:12 PM   #35
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Question about stairwell width


Jon,

You need to relax.. and not sweet this inspection.

I have had many inspections (by mortgage inspectors) related to release of escrow funds being held by the insured loss dept of mortgage companies.

Residential:

The inspectors don't really go by tiles other than Mr. or Ms.
They are typically independent contractors that work a geographic area for firms that specialize in offering mortgage company inspections.

80% of the inspections they do is a drive by to see if a house has been abandoned ( Payments 2 month behind and no contact from home owner).
If the HO skipped.. they arrange board-up etc..

If the purpose of the inspection is for you to receive another draw on your construction loan...the inspector will be looking to see if you have spent the money provided on the proper items ... and not at the dog track.

I use line items estimates. This makes percentage of completion very easy to determine. Your loan documents should detail your draw schedule.

Be your normal pleasant self.. Let the inspector do the talking...

The inspector will take a few pictures..and ask you to sign a form stating that they were there. They may discuss % of completion with you. The paperwork takes five to seven days to get back to the mortgage company.

PS when you call to set up the inspection time, ask if they need a copy of any of your construction paperwork.

Last edited by Big Bob; 09-21-2008 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 09-21-2008, 01:33 PM   #36
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Question about stairwell width


Dick

Thanks for your reply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by concretemasonry View Post

2. I hope you have all the separation walls and floor fire rated.
Please elaborate on this requirement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by concretemasonry View Post
Have you ever tried to move bulky furniture (sofas, dressers, refrigerators, etc) up and down a stairway like you propose? - If you have a crane and a big window this might not be a problem.
I don't have any stairs installed yet. I just have the stairwell. I have the stringers cut, and was reading up a little on the internet about stair building. It dawned on me that my finished wall width would not be 36", as I laid the framing out at 36" and I am using 1/2" sheetrock.

I'm taking this time to learn more and make an "educated gamble" on whether this will fly or if I should act on other options. I'm also taking this time to figure out what my other options are. IE: add another staircase in another location, etc.

What I am trying to avoid is doing a lot of extra work, and spending a ton of money "fixing" a situation only to have an inspector come in and not even look closely at the stairs. I'd be sick! I'd also be sick if I *didn't* do it and the guy whips out a tape measure and flunks me.

If you all have other opinions and experience I would love to hear it, good or bad.

Thanks again
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Old 09-21-2008, 01:35 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bob View Post

If the purpose of the inspection is for you to receive another draw on your construction loan...the inspector will be looking to see if you have spent the money provided on the proper items ... and not at the dog track.

I use line items estimates. This makes percentage of completion very easy to determine. Your loan documents should detail your draw schedule.
It would be an inspection in order to close on a mortgage, not one for a draw.

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Old 09-21-2008, 02:01 PM   #38
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Question about stairwell width


This is a single family residence. There are no rated walls or floors in single family construction, and are no requirements for true fire ratings.

The house and all structural support elements (posts, walls, beams) must be separated by a 20 minute burn time equivalency, which basically means 1/2" sheetrock. If there is habitable space above the garage, the garage ceiling must have 5/8" rock. If the underside of any stairs are accessible for storage in an otherwise finished space, the underside of the stairs must be sheetrocked. Other than that, you have nothing to worry about.
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Old 09-21-2008, 02:31 PM   #39
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Question about stairwell width


Great, thanks for the fire rating clarification.

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Old 09-22-2008, 06:51 AM   #40
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Question about stairwell width


Jon,

I assume then that you are not calling for this inspection until you are complete? And the purpose of the inspection is to confirm completion?

What size, type, and location of door (or doors) are you planning at this stairwell? Are you planning a 2-8 in-swing at the top?

Do you have an egress plan for your upstairs living area?
I understand you are not overly concerned about code issues, but I would install in-line smoke and CO3 detectors downstairs in this carriage house.

If you have not set your stair stringers yet... It might not be that hard or costly to relocate the interior stairwell wall framing.

You and your contents may not be happy with a 2-8 door. With slab off the hinges you will have 31" between the door stops. Measure the refrigerator.
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Old 09-22-2008, 09:48 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bob View Post
Jon,

I assume then that you are not calling for this inspection until you are complete? And the purpose of the inspection is to confirm completion?
Yes, that is correct.

Quote:
What size, type, and location of door (or doors) are you planning at this stairwell? Are you planning a 2-8 in-swing at the top?
There are no doors at the top or the bottom. The stairwell begins in a foyer on the first floor and ends on a 42" landing on the second floor.


Quote:
Do you have an egress plan for your upstairs living area?
I have not yet began to develop one. I would guess there would be at least one window ladder in an accessible area upstairs.

Quote:
I understand you are not overly concerned about code issues, but I would install in-line smoke and CO3 detectors downstairs in this carriage house.
While I don't have a city inspector looking over my shoulder I do understand that code is in place because it is based standards that provide a safe environment. Therefore, I want to construct this dwelling as if I were trying to meet code.

I have a good friend who owns a fire and alarm business. I believe he has full credentials, as he has designed and installed the fire suppression systems for at least one of the local casinos, as well as many other businesses. If he can handle a casino, I'm thinking he will be able to handle this building as well. Yes, I agree this dwelling needs smoke and CO3 detectors and I plan to add fire extinguishers as well.

Quote:
If you have not set your stair stringers yet... It might not be that hard or costly to relocate the interior stairwell wall framing.
That's the problem. I would be both hard and costly to relocate the framing. One side of the stairs is a bedroom. If I relocated the wall that would only give me room for a 24" door. Compounding that problem, I would have to shorten the engineered truss over that bedroom, which I know is an engineering no-no.

The other wall is tied into a 40' long wall that divides the bedroom and bathroom from the open living/kitchen area. The minimum height of that wall is 13' and the max height is around 20'. If I were to move that wall, I would have to extend the engineered truss by adding sisters of truss to that wall.

So, either way it is a big task. I don't want to go through all the trouble, planning and expense only to have the guy glance and the stairwell and call it good. If I did all of that the guy better pull out a tape measure!

Really, I feel like if I did modify the stairwell to meet the 36" requirement I would only be rigging it. I'd rather not spend thousands and a week or two of work to rig something. Modifying the stairwell does not fit into the original plan. The wiggle room simply isn't there.

Quote:
You and your contents may not be happy with a 2-8 door. With slab off the hinges you will have 31" between the door stops. Measure the refrigerator.
The main fridge will be downstairs...never upstairs. This dwelling is of "open floor plan" style with 1,000 sq. ft. of kitchen and living downstairs, and a "loft," if you will, upstairs. The upstairs area is "open to below" with a 42" guardrail so you can look down on the kitchen/living area.

At this point I am still "all ears" so I would love to hear more of what you guys think.

Thank you
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