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Landings versus steps for extending front porch


JAG70
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Hi. I have a ranch built in 1972 in NC that has a 10x6 porch projecting off the front. This porch landing is 38" above ground on one side and about 52" on the other. It has never had a rail, but I will need to do one now that I am about to complete a remodel on the interior. Challenges I have are that the landing is about 3" below the new main egress door. To address this I plan to lay sleepers and install a nice composite over the well-seated tile surface. I will also be replacing the old brick stairs and installing decorative railing and a handrail. As we are planning this work, my contractor has suggested we could soften (so to speak) the projecting porch appearance by creating step down landings off each side of the porch. Due to the furnace HVAC fresh air intake/exhaust (on the right of the porch in the pic) he's proposing the first landing be 23" down. So as not to interfere with the furnace vent he is not planning to install a step, saying the height differences between these landings can be up to 24" since the main stairs are the egress - he mentioned this is common on multi-tier decks. I am wondering if you experts agree? He's said if the inspector had a problem with it he would come back and add a couple 36" wide steps between each landing, but I'm unclear how we would do that with the HVAC vent there.  Wouldn't steps be required no matter what? I am attaching a "current" pic and a mockup of what I'm describing as I know my description is not that great. TYIA. 

House Front Windows Mockup 1.2.1.jpg

House Front Proposed porch with landings.jpg

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I don't see any issue with the porch being 3 inches lower than the threshold on the front door.

I also don't see how curb appeal is going to be improved by 'step down' landings on each side of the porch.

When I look at the top photo, the first thing that gets my attention is the lack of a cosmetic boundary at the first floor level, something that separates the house from that which supports the house. The solution shown in the lower photo doesn't do the job, but looks much more expensive to build than a simple cosmetic boundary.

Why not step the porch down to the driveway on the right (if that's what I'm seeing there)? That's in addition to the cosmetic boundary.

Edited by Marc
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Thank you for the quick response Marc. You are (of course) correct about the height to the thread hold. I was thinking about my basement where I was dinged for 311.3.1 “Landings or finished floors at the required egress door shall be not more than 11/2 inches (38 mm) lower than the top of the threshold. Exception: The landing or floor on the exterior side shall be not more than 73/4 inches (196 mm) below the top of the threshold provided that the door does not swing over the landing or floor.” My problem there was on the inside not the out. 
 

I would appreciate your thoughts on another question please. If we step the right down to the driveway and have multiple landings with steps down to each landing (couple of steps and a run of 36”+ then couple of steps, etc.) does  the landing break up the “run” of steps so that the delta of a maximin 3/8” difference between each step pertains precisely to those steps between two landings? Perhaps I worry to much and should leave it to the porch contractor. Thank you for your thoughts. 

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I’m sorry you feel that way Jim. I am not a flipper and I certainly don’t have an MBA. I am a single female who provides computer support for a software company. This is my home, a place where I am working very hard to find contractors who do quality work to fix it up for me and my Mother, who I care and provide for.  Yes I am not a licensed contractor; I didn’t claim to be one. It is a true statement that a contractor I met with made those statements to me. It is true I learned it is in my best interest to try understand the code, to the extent I can. FWIW, I started with a single contractor for my work and a year and a half and lawyer fees later he paid, but I still lost $$$. Most of all,however, I lost trust. Now each project I do my best to research the code and,  if the project is complex, call the city for a consult - per their advice, all the work is being done under one big permit. They have been good to me, but I realize I am probably too distrusting and didn’t want to call them about this one. Besides it seemed pretty straightforward.

 

I live in NC where people sit on front porches and wave to and visit with neighbors. My objective is to try to extend the porch to be able to have  a small space (on the right) for my Mom for that while, perhaps, creating landing type steps to make it easier for my mom to get in and out of my house (or eventually for me to get her in and out.) I felt like the left and right should be somewhat symmetrical.

 

I know I need landscaping. It was all lost when I excavated the outside and had dimple board and water proofing done. Yes, I bought a money pit it seems. I hope to fix up the landscaping nicely once I figure out the front deck/porch or whatever it should be called.

 

I do understand you will likely see this post as a waste of your time. Believe it or not Raleigh is a booming market and finding a contractor who knows what he is doing and is willing to work jobs that are not $50k or more are not so easy to find. They exist, I am sure, but not in nearly the number as those who either don’t know or don’t seem to care.

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If the front yard was excavated to install dimple board, then you really don't want to put a bunch of concrete on it. The new concrete will sink into the back-filled yard like a fat man sitting on a cheap couch. Don't do it. 

A 6x10 porch is plenty big enough for Mama to sit out there with a mint julep and get into the neighbors' bidness. Making it much larger and she'd have to sit out in the sun. 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Are we in Handrail and Guardrail territory with this porch ? If I count correctly, we have six risers on the Stairs and the Elevation change of at least the Right side (as we view it) appears greater than 30 inches.  <bb

Edited by rjbrown2
typo off to of
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Hi rjbrown2. For sure! I'm thinking of using horizontal black metal railing, but absolutely, railing will be needed. Even though most of the left side of the porch wouldn't require it, I'm planning to try to use the same amount/feet in each direction of the main porch just to keep things symmetric. 

Thank you for your help! 

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