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lovebone 06-18-2011 12:15 PM

Replacing old basement stairway and meeting codes
I just bought an old home (1920) which of course has many items that do not meet today's code.

I'm planning on "finishing" some basement rooms, and would like to replace the old basement steps which are literally falling apart.

Of course, if I do so, there is no way the new staircase can meet code. Here are my problems:
1) Without moving a structural wall, the maximum width I can achieve is 33", not 36" (code).
2) Current stairs have a rise of 8" and a run of 8". I can get the stairs to be 8" rise and 10" run, but this will then make the clearance at the 5th step only 73", where a main floor joist runs under the remaining stairs up to the second story.

Question: should I...
a) Pull a permit (especially noting that I would be doing more work in basement) and try to convince an inspector that I'm improving the stairwell but that their are severe impediments to ever making code.
b) not pull a permit and hope its never an issue.
c) not replace the stairway (which in addition to not meeting code and falling apart, does not even have risers, only treads).

Is there an leniency when dealing with old homes?

1910NE 06-18-2011 04:40 PM

I also have an old home with many "details" that do not meet current code, including my basement stairs. I have some plans for the house which include changes to the stairs, but I have not gotten to that project yet...

A lot depends on your local municipality. What i have been told by our inspector is that with an old house where existing does not meet code, you can replace like with like. For example, I need to replace my porch railings (porch is about 32" above grade.) and the original railings were only about 24" high. Because of the existing column detailing, installing 36" high railings would make it look terrible. He tells me that as long as I am going to replace existing, in place railings, I can stay with the original height.

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