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Old 08-04-2009, 04:44 PM   #1
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


I'm currently in the process of having a home built in Indiana. It is a spec home and I went through the model prior to having it built to see what it was like.

While visiting the site recently I noticed that the stairs from upstairs stick out about 3" into the hallway at the bottom of the stairs. The stairs in the model did not stick out past the wall and the blueprints don't indicate that they would.

The guy in charge of my job site tells me that they switched vendors or something and they've got a different pitch and there's nothing he can do about it.

What rights do I have to get it fixed? Seems to me like it will be a lot of work since they let it get to this point, but they can rip out the stairs and rebuild them to be the correct pitch so that they do not stick out into the hallway and he's just trying to get out of the work.

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Old 08-04-2009, 04:52 PM   #2
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Who does your site super report to? I'd be climbing the chain of command ladder until you get a satisfactory response. If it's not in the plans, it's not in the plans.

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Old 08-04-2009, 05:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by PBizme View Post
I'm currently in the process of having a home built in Indiana. It is a spec home and I went through the model prior to having it built to see what it was like.

While visiting the site recently I noticed that the stairs from upstairs stick out about 3" into the hallway at the bottom of the stairs. The stairs in the model did not stick out past the wall and the blueprints don't indicate that they would.

The guy in charge of my job site tells me that they switched vendors or something and they've got a different pitch and there's nothing he can do about it.

What rights do I have to get it fixed? Seems to me like it will be a lot of work since they let it get to this point, but they can rip out the stairs and rebuild them to be the correct pitch so that they do not stick out into the hallway and he's just trying to get out of the work.
Well blueprints aren't worth the paper they are printed on; its the person or company that stamped them that gives them their validity. I dont know about your legal recourse but if the stairs are out of code your inspector should have caught it. I would check your contract, check with your inspector and maybe an attorney if you and the builder cant come to terms on a solution. Looking in the National Building Code Section I couldn't find anything that would be in violation but this book is very vague due to local codes and laws. Your builder is NOT going to want to eat the cost of replacing that stair. If it would be possible you may want to looking into changing the landing if coming into the room with the stair would be an option.

In any regard that was a huge oversite on the builder, inspector and total lack of professionalism of everyone involved. I would not let this go unchanged. Although I am not up on your local code I know this has to be at least a safety issue.

I will continue to try to dig something up for you and I apologize for not being a bigger help.

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Old 08-04-2009, 05:51 PM   #4
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


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Originally Posted by PBizme View Post
The guy in charge of my job site tells me that they switched vendors or something and they've got a different pitch and there's nothing he can do about it.
You might contact your State's Attorney. You might also ask him to swear out an affidavit saying just what he told you.
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:35 PM   #5
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


As a carpenter I can tell you that the stairs may be with in code while still not being what was seen in the model home you looked at. Sounds like the builder has a different framing sub on your house and he didn't build it exactly like the model home was. A good builder would get it changed for you. I've had a "call back" as we in the business call it for some similar things in the past. Many things can cause this to happen, slight changes in the plans from one home to the next, different framing crew doing the work, etc. I would have a talk with the builder, sooner than later, to get this changed so you are happy with your home.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:03 PM   #6
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


I'd go above the person you are dealing with ASAP. If a reasonable conversation can't resolve the issue, you are going to have to take it up a notch. Review your contract with the builder - there should be some sort of provision for withholding final payment until all non-conforming issues are corrected. Assuming the stairs were not built per the approved plans, notify the builder IN WRITING that you will be withholding final payment until this issue is corrected. Two things could happen here: 1 - they agree to fix the stairs or 2 - they try to fight it out with you and end up delaying your closing because you are withholding payment. Good luck.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:37 PM   #7
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I would assume that the blue prints were drawn and signed an engineer!
I would think that any variation from these signed drawings would have to be approved, the drawings changed and signed again by the engineer!
If revisions are not OK'd by the engineer, then he is off the hook as far as liability is concerned.
Engineers are paid big money to assure that the drawings are made according to contract specs.
If I were you I would make sure that this discrepancy is brought to the engineers attention.
The mortgage holder may also have an interest in this matter, and may withhold funding if the construction is out of specification
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:52 PM   #8
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Measure the hallway width at the stairs from the bottom tread's nosing to the drywall, it has to be 36", or wider. If not, it is in violation of egress for all residential safety codes: Landings
Landing at top & bottom of stairs . . . . . . . . . . . . .[312.1] {1003.3.3.5}
Landing min. 36in. deep x width of door or stair . . .[312.2] {1003.3.3.5}

Found at: http://www.codecheck.com/cc/pg07_08building.html Unless there is a 36" wide door directly across from the stairs or an opening same width. The hallway is required to be 36" wide, also per code--IRC 311.13 UBC 1004.3.3.2 That is without any stair or step part into hall space. Be safe, G
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:05 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by GBAR in WA View Post
Measure the hallway width at the stairs from the bottom tread's nosing to the drywall, it has to be 36", or wider. If not, it is in violation of egress for all residential safety codes: Landings
Landing at top & bottom of stairs . . . . . . . . . . . . .[312.1] {1003.3.3.5}
Landing min. 36in. deep x width of door or stair . . .[312.2] {1003.3.3.5}

Found at: http://www.codecheck.com/cc/pg07_08building.html Unless there is a 36" wide door directly across from the stairs or an opening same width. The hallway is required to be 36" wide, also per code--IRC 311.13 UBC 1004.3.3.2 That is without any stair or step part into hall space. Be safe, G
All very true. One thing to consider though is that the stairs must have 10" minimum run in order to be code-compliant. That's measured horizontally from nose to nose, not from riser to nose. If the stairs currently have 10" run the only option would be to move the entire assembly back.

As for a change in vendors, pooey (unless your house was framed in a factory). Go to the model home and see if it shows the same thing. You're paying big bucks for a new home and you should get what you want, within the limits of the code.
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Old 08-12-2009, 03:56 PM   #10
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


You should talk to the main project manager for the development. The site super not wanting to correct the issue is not acceptable. Additionally, the different vendor and changing the slope is a bunch of horse manure. If it is a model house, than all the houses that are built should be identical unless there were any changes that you and builder specifically made and signed off on. If there was not an approved change, than it is lack of quality assurance on the builders end.

The idea that the new vendor used a different slope doesn't make total sense either. Assuming the steps are 10" deep, the difference would add a full 10" to the length of the stair case, and decrease the riser heights. The plans should show the riser height and how many risers were used. Sounds like it could be more of a wall not framed in the correct location, causing the steps to stick out further.
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Old 08-12-2009, 09:17 PM   #11
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


I would tend to look for the wall Green Giant mentioned. That, and also exactly where the top of the stairs begin in relationship to some feature (wall, corner, etc) upstairs. Sounds like someone placed your supporting beam on the wrong side of the line up at the top.

The easiest fix will likely be to either move the bottom wall over 3"...... or just extend the end of it 3" if there is no perpendicular wall there that requires moving. Of course, this will throw off the dimensions of at least two first floor rooms, areas, or halls, and possibly other walls that might align with that wall. Make danged sure it isn't a bearing wall, and that it CAN be moved.

And as GBAR said, be very cautious that they haven't already, or won't with a wall move, violate hallway and/or landing sizes.

And to answer your question........ YES!!!! Plans count!. I've seen entire houses that had to be moved because of an inch or two.

I second... and third... the remarks about your super being full of it. He just shoveled some crap your way that he thought you might swallow. Way to go, not going for it.

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One thing just hit me. Grab a tape, and start checking the overall dimensions across the entire house. There's a chance they may have gotten the basic house a little small. Probably not, but you would be smart to check now.
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Last edited by Willie T; 08-12-2009 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:37 AM   #12
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I totally agree with Willie on measuring the walls, and make sure they align properly and that windows align where they should. I don't know about other towns, but in NJ building inspectors look for technical errors(fire blocking, hangers, proper footings, ventilation, etc.) and not is everything was built to measurements specified in the drawings. The fine details are the responsibility of the builder and you as the owner. If they refuse to correct stair and other building issues, you should talk to your realtor about withdrawing your contract for the house.
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:51 AM   #13
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


First there are companies that manufacture pre-built stairs for installation on job sites. Some builders and framers do utilize these companies. Usually the staircase is not specified exactly on the plans (with regards to rise and run) and a generic to be in compliance with applicable codes is all that is stated.

The building inspector should catch any stair and landing violations, most are pretty particular about staircases. If the stair was built and engineered (stamped, it's all about who is willing to except liability) off site this will limit what the building inspector can do.

If the stairs and landing are in compliance with code (pitch is irrelevant as the stairs should be level it's the total rise that ultimately affects the "pitch" or run , unfortunately few inspectors check for level) the simple fix is to extend the wall out.

I would try going over the site superintendents head or try talking to the sales rep for the builder. If that doesn't work then I would bring your contract to a contract attorney and see what options you may have.
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:56 AM   #14
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


It would absolutely shock you how many framers begin a house without ever checking to see if they are working in a properly and accurately laid out slab. And another mistake many, if not MOST, framers make is to begin their wall layouts pulling measurements from whatever exterior wall is closest.... if they are in the front of the house, they pull off the front wall... if they are in the back, off the back wall... on one side or the other, the measurements get taken from that closest exterior wall.

What this does is concentrate any overall slab or basement perimeter mistakes somewhere toward the center of the house, often resulting in a dimension "crunch" in an interior hallway. Properly done, measurements should be pulled from only two walls... either the front or back, and either the right or left. Never front AND back, nor right AND left. Sometimes there are considerations such as plumbing wall locations that may alter this, but it's a good rule of thumb. Layout is a subjective art that often requires some common sense adjustments along the way... some rooms (with permission) can be changed in size a bit, some can't. Ya gotta know what you are doing to recognize the difference.

When I am running a job, every trade is given implicit instructions that they are to pull measurements from ONLY the rear wall and the left wall... starting from the ground-breaking, up. And I check on them constantly. It is important to have all subs working from the same page.

About the only time this changes is in a truss layout. They are often pulled from each opposing wall toward the center... but not always. Ya gotta stay awake.

If you are not adverse to spending 30 some bucks, HERE is a book I heartily recommend to anyone. There is also a second volume by the same author that is well worth the bucks.
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Last edited by Willie T; 08-13-2009 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 08-14-2009, 07:12 AM   #15
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How Strict Are Blueprints?


Maybe the model home has stairs that are out of compliance and the framer built these to code. Maybe.

I wonder how much 'out' we would find on homes if as-builts were compared to original prints?

At any rate, the game is the guys will continue working, and the more they do the more difficult(expensive) it will be to correct.

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