DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
We replaced our old basement stairs and hired a contractor on Thumbtack (unfortunately). The stairs seem fine and safe, but I'm finishing up the basement and wondering if an inspection is required for Pittsburgh.

I also didn't get a permit, because the structure already existed - so it wasn't a new addition. Don't know if that is the correct move.

Any guidance would be appreciated.
 

·
JUSTA MEMBER
Joined
·
15,726 Posts
You will need to check with your county office.

Here you can replace anything in your property, yourself, or hire it done, but still need a safety inspection afterward.

The contractor should have gotten the proper permits, and paid for them, and the inspection.

Probably not licensed though which has other built in broblems.

I hope that it was done correctly.


ED
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
611 Posts
I believe that Pittsburgh uses the Uniform Construction Code, so I don't believe any permit or inspections should be required for stair replacement. Not 100% sure on that though.

Either way, I don't believe any "stair police" are going to be coming around to your home any time soon. So how would anyone know the difference anyway. The other thing is if a permit and inspection are required for a project and you don't do so you have broken the law whether you report yourself or not, you are still guilty. You can be forced to tear out all work that was done without a permit or inspection and face fines, so reporting yourself for such issues probably isn't the smartest option.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the input @CrazyGuy. My concern is for when I go to sell my property, if this will become an issue then. If I have to have someone redo the work, I'd rather do it now while I'm working on finishing up my basement rather than tearing it down, redoing, fixing drywall, etc later down the road. I come from Connecticut who I know if very stringent on this type of stuff.
 

·
Member
Joined
·
4,080 Posts
Thanks for the input @CrazyGuy. My concern is for when I go to sell my property, if this will become an issue then. If I have to have someone redo the work, I'd rather do it now while I'm working on finishing up my basement rather than tearing it down, redoing, fixing drywall, etc later down the road. I come from Connecticut who I know if very stringent on this type of stuff.

Read this thread http://www.diychatroom.com/f50/basement-floorplan-help-needed-604930/index2/#post5284162

to pick up some insight on basement permits. The old geezer reads as if he is still living in the 1800's. The Bud guy, reads as if he is staying current on his building and permit knowledge.
 

·
Guapo
Joined
·
5,940 Posts
Dpdiy, I wouldn't call for an inspector just yet. Make sure that the railing is 2' 10" from the nose of the treads. Balusters should no more than 4" apart. Space between each step can't be more than 4" either if you didn't install risers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
@Guap0_ , so I did some measurements based on your last comment. Here is what I found (don't think it's looking pretty). Looking forward to you and others feedback.

- Ballisters are anywhere from 6 to 7 inches apart. They are also fastened to the skirtboard, not the actual treads themselves.

- Tread is 32.5" W x 10.5" L

- Handrail is just a piece of standard wood that is 2.5" W x 0.75" H. It also doesn't have any supporting beam underneath, except for the Ballisters.

- Riser heights vary from 6-7" H

- Nosing on the tread is 2.75"
 

·
Guapo
Joined
·
5,940 Posts
More balusters have to be added. It's okay that they are not attached to the treads. Risers are okay. I think that you misunderstood the tread measurement. From the nose of the tread, measure straight upwards/vertically to the railing. The height should be 2' 10".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
@Guap0_ , so from the nose of tread to the handrail is 2'6". If I go further in on the tread and measure next to actual banister, that height varied from 2'9" to 2'10".

Also is the handrail concerning to you? From what I've read quickly, if that is less than 2" x 4", they need to have supporting beams underneath them.
 

·
Guapo
Joined
·
5,940 Posts
The measurement is from the nose to the top of the rail/banister, what ever you want to call it. That part is easy to flx. Just nail a board on top of it. I did that on a railing around a pool. The code there was 3'.

You need to do 2 things. Add a baluster between each of the current balusters & add a board or anything on top of the existing rail/banister. It's a simple fix. It's up to you if you want to demand the original contractor to fix it or if you want to do it or if you want a 3rd party to do it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,342 Posts
The 6-7 in riser height is most likely a code violation. The difference between the smallest riser, and the largest riser can Not be more than 3/8 of an inch where I live.

I’d bring in a good contractor to inspect that stair and see what he finds wrong. You got enough problems that are easily found which makes me wonder if you may have structural problems underneath.

No sense trying to fix balusters or handrails if the whole stairway needs ripping out and redoing.
 

·
Guapo
Joined
·
5,940 Posts
I'm not saying that it doesn't exist but I haven't heard of that 3/8" difference rule. If he fixes the glaring violations, I think that he will be ok.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,342 Posts
It’s the IRC R311.5.3.1

R311.5.3.1 Riser height. The maximum riser height shall be 7 3/4 inches (196 mm). The riser shall be measured vertically between leading edges of the adjacent treads. The greatest riser height within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8 inch (9.5 mm).
 

·
Guapo
Joined
·
5,940 Posts
I believe you. I just never heard of it & I don't know if it exists here. I don't know if home inspectors who work for buyers would see the difference, w/o actually measuring it. They will certainly see 7" spaces between balusters, in a flash. It all depends on what chances the OP wants to take.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the back-and-forth everyone. This is helpful. One last question: can I get rid of the railing and balusters all together? There is a railing attached to other side of stairs, anchored to concrete wall.

I've attached the current setup and what I'm thinking would be best, given the fact I'd like to avoid tearing down the stairs and having to go through the process of hiring and installing a new set.

You think this is ok? Exposed area shown is about half the total rise of stairs.

Current:
stairs-current.jpg

Idea for alteration:
stairs-new.jpg
 

·
JUSTA MEMBER
Joined
·
15,726 Posts
If a tyke was visiting you, and fell from the very top step, to the floor underneath, the effect would be the same as if a grown up fell off a 4 story building.

So no way is it O K.

This is the reason the balusters need to be closer together, so a tyke cannot crawl between them.

Better to DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME , than to need to redo it.



ED
 

·
Guapo
Joined
·
5,940 Posts
Removing the railing completely is worse than leaving the balusters at 7". The idea of the 4" baluster space is so a child can't put his head between them. The fix that I gave you in post #10 is the way to solve the problem. It's a one day job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,342 Posts
I don't know if home inspectors who work for buyers would see the difference, w/o actually measuring it.
You don’t try to see the difference in riser height. You feel it in your feet. When it feels weird, then the buyers inspector starts measuring to prove it/obtain the greatest difference for his report.

If the small and large just over the 3/8 and spread out, the inspector might not catch it. But with the reported 1 inch difference, an inspector would notice it if he is used to using stairs.

When the difference between heights is too large it becomes a tripping or stumbling hazard. A face first fall is bad enough when you are going up. Stumbling forward and rolling downstairs can be fatal.

An actual permit inspector will be more stringent in his inspection of the stairs than a buyers home inspector.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top