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Diminishing Steps


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I did an builder's warranty inspection at a one-year-old home in an upscale retirement community today. I think the builder or architect wanted to make a unique design statement at the front entrance. Maybe it's unique because most builders would see the safety hazard here and not attempt it.

The jurisdiction is subject to the 2006 IRC. The top two treads are more than 30 inches above the grade and therefore require guards (R312.1). Because the run of five risers is interrupted with a landing, a handrail is not required. But what is odd here is the continually reducing width of each tread. R311.5.4 specifies that the width of a landing shall not be less that the width of the stairway served. Code or not, I am commenting that is my opinion that the stairway is unsafe.

I know I'm not required to suggest a remedy, but do you think curved or angled handrails and guards on both sides that stay within the width of each tread is a reasonable solution?

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Blair Pruitt

Seattle Home Inspector

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Originally posted by Billy_Bob

Some people (like myself) have size 13 men's feet. I know a guy who has size 16!

Anyway what does that 2nd step-tread to the porch measure? (Looks pretty shallow.)

Looks to me I would need to step on it sideways!

My 22 year old son wears a size 15 and now my 12 year old son is wearing a size 11!

They both have a very good understanding! [:D]

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First, thanks to Brian for thinking of me when it concerns kicking butt.

Second, even more troubling than the diminishing steps that make me think I'm in 8th grade art learning perspectives (my perspective is I'd rather be in English or science thank-you) is the way the brick on the columns doesn't touch the concrete on the landing.

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Originally posted by Chad Fabry

First, thanks to Brian for thinking of me when it concerns kicking butt.

Second, even more troubling than the diminishing steps that make me think I'm in 8th grade art learning perspectives (my perspective is I'd rather be in English or science thank-you) is the way the brick on the columns doesn't touch the concrete on the landing.

Yep, Richard is right; it's most probably veneer applied to a wood frame and there's a 6 by 6 PT post in the center of that "column." If you don't leave a way for the water that's going to get in there to get out, the danged PT posts will rot out in just a few years; I know, it happened to a friend of mine.

I'm constantly writing up cast stone wrap on fake columns for lack of any drainage means. I know that it looks stupid to leave the stone off the concrete stoops, but after seeing what will happen when they're closed up with no drainage I can't afford to let it pass.

It kind of sucks, but there it is. When builders start cussing about it, I point out that they probably could have avoided the whole mess if they'd only used a real masonry pier.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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You can't see it on the photo but there is another set of steps with three risers on the right side of the porch. A 71-year-old woman lives alone in the house. I told her to only use the short set of steps until the dangereous steps are fixed.

It's a 55+ community. And yes, we are a spry bunch.

The photo below is from the same house. I couldn't fit them all in, but there were 28 roof vents clustered at top of three sides of the hip roof. The attic space was about 2,000 s.f. The other photo shows the spacing of the crawl space vents, which continued along the perimeter. There were ventilation fans with humidistats in six of the crawl space vents. I'm guessing the builder had a mold claim in the past and thus, the overkill.

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Blair

Seattle Home Inspection

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Good grief. I think your builder is totally off his rocker.

Blair my man, for the sake of the dial-up and low-grade DSL guys, as well as the better interests of bandwidth and storage for TIJ, please reduce your photos before posting them. Those files are huge. 75 - 100KB is plenty if you do it right.

Brian G.

Venting Appears to Be Adequate [;)]

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Hi,

Sorry Brian, my bad; I usually fix those for guys when I see them but I didn't even bother to check this one. It's fixed now.

Chad, I agree, except that most builders around here vent the frieze blocking uder the eaves and install chutes. There's probably three mesh-covered 1-1/2" holes in every block between rafters above the top plate.

Still, it's way too much overkill. Someone needs to sit down with that guy and teach him a little building science and then show him what will work here and what won't work here.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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