1. ATTENTION returning members. If you are coming here from the old forum for the first time, you will need to reset you password. However, we had an email problem getting password reset links set out to a lot of the email addresses. That problem is temporarily rectified but IF you still have an issue, email me direct at info@thebuildingcodeforum.com and I will give you a temporary password.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Welcome to the new and improved Building Code Forum. We appreciate you being here and hope that you are getting the information that you need concerning all codes of the building trades. This is a free forum to the public due to the generosity of the Sawhorses, Corporate Supporters and Supporters who have upgraded their accounts. If you would like to have improved access to the forum please upgrade to Sawhorse by clicking here: Upgrades
    Dismiss Notice

Stair risers...

Discussion in 'Property Maintenance' started by mfichter80, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. mfichter80

    mfichter80 Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    4
    I did an apartment inspection where there is a front porch, and a single concrete step coming up from ground-level. The height from the top of that riser to the porch exceeds the 8 1/4 inches in the Residential Code. This is in response to a complaint because the tenant had an elderly guest at her house who fell on this step when she was leaving.

    I am checking to see how other PM inspectors cite this in terms of using the PM code, but referencing the residential code as well.

    Also the house was built in 1969. I have checked the 1971 BOCA 1 and 2 family dwelling codebook, and it states 8" as the max. height for a riser.

    It seems like we've had standard riser heights for a very long time. I am checking to see if anyone has any specific information on this as well.
     
  2. Keystone

    Keystone Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    67
    You can only cite one code, such as the PM. In your notes you can reference the BOCA code but I don't see it as being relevant with the adopted PM. IMO, If this where to end up going to court, the PM along with an injury is certainly looking in your favor.
     
  3. mfichter80

    mfichter80 Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    4
    The issue I have is that the only references to stairs that I can find in the PM code is that they need to be "in sound condition and good repair." So I don't see how I can enforce the riser height just with that.

    Also fyi I am using the Virginia Maintenance code, which has a few changes from the ICC. (Not sure if any of the changes apply to this or not)
     
  4. mfichter80

    mfichter80 Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    4

    OK... I found the section in chapter 1 where it states the building should meet the USBC when it was constructed. (And the Virginia Maintenance Code completely replaces the ICC's Chapter 1) I believe this is the code section I would cite, because the condition of the stairs is not the issue.
     
  5. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,371
    Likes Received:
    314
    Maintenance codes usually assume that buildings are code compliant when they were built, so they don't have most of the requirements that the code has for construction. Construction issues should have been addressed during construction. Maintenance codes only have the required measures for maintenance based on your communities "minimum standard".
     
  6. Paul Sweet

    Paul Sweet Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    953
    Likes Received:
    116
    Virginia didn't adopt the Uniform Statewide Building Code until 1973. Before that some localities adopted one of the national model codes, but didn't always update to the latest edition.

    The Virginia Fire Safety Regulations (Renamed Virginia Public Building Safety Regulations in 1981) applied to all public buildings, which included apartments. Risers in interior & exterior exit stairs were limited to 7 3/4".
     
  7. mfichter80

    mfichter80 Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    4
    In the office here we have a copy of the 1971 USBC 1 and 2 family dwelling code (a little red one with different regional seals on it). I'll have to find out if certain localities in Virginia used it, or what. We have a copy of it for some reason!

    The bottom-line is I am pretty sure riser codes haven't changed much for a very long time, and this is something that is dangerous and should be fixed, and so the goal is to find the most straight-forward way to get that done (which could involve some level of bluffing maybe?)

    Also there has been work done to the house, including the porch, and the timeline on this is not clear at this point. But the stair/porch situation has clearly been altered since the house was built.
     
  8. ICE

    ICE Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Messages:
    7,416
    Likes Received:
    574
    Who's getting excited over 1/4"?
     
    JCraver likes this.
  9. CityKin

    CityKin Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    24
    I think you are on thin ice. How can you cite a non-compliant riser, when quite possibly the stair met code and was inspected and approved when it was built?

    Now if there is evidence that the stair was modified or that it has subsided with the ground, resulting in different riser heights, then you might have a Property Maintenance code issue.
     
  10. mfichter80

    mfichter80 Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    4
    You guys don't understand, the riser is 12 inches.

    Whether the code used for this house in 1969 said 7 3/4, 8, 8 1/4 inches, whatever, it did not say 12 inches.
     
  11. CityKin

    CityKin Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    24
    OK, agreed. It would have helped if you said that earlier.
     
  12. tbz

    tbz Silver Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Messages:
    479
    Likes Received:
    12
    I guess my first question is, you note it as an apartment, how is the unit defined for it's use group?

    If this is a 1&2 family home or town home with it's own entrance, not sure what you can do.

    However, if this is truly a R-2 apartment, would you not some sort of state level ADA maint, requirement?

    I would look at C/O use group first off, then go from there, you could have a situation were no code was in place when built, thus riser is open for interp.

    however, 12" is way to high did the ground settle or did they install new walkways within the last 20 years?

    Just some food for thought - Happy New Year everyone - Tom
     
  13. Francis Vineyard

    Francis Vineyard Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Messages:
    3,061
    Likes Received:
    406
    Since the structure is pre-USBC it's required to use the maintenance code; not the code under which it was constructed (Ref. 103.2)
    In accordance with Section 702.1 the IFC requires 7-in. risers.
    To my knowledge the USBC amendments do not apply where the code references the I-codes. And that can be troublesome in court if there's a confict between the 2 codes. Until Virginia makes changes to that affect hopefully the 2 codes will mirror each other for the time being.
     
  14. Francis Vineyard

    Francis Vineyard Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Messages:
    3,061
    Likes Received:
    406
    They could remove step or stairs if not a required means of egress.
    Then they could utilize the treads for other purposes such as for planters or storage shelves.
     
  15. Paul Sweet

    Paul Sweet Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    953
    Likes Received:
    116
    The 1971 BOCA, along with 1972 & 1973 amendments, and the 1970 (I think) 1 & 2 Family Dwelling Code were adopted as part of the 1973 VaUSBC.

    From the 2012 VA Maintenance Code:
    105.3 Unsafe conditions not related to maintenance.
    When the code official finds a condition that constitutes a serious and dangerous hazard to life or health in a structure constructed prior to the initial edition of the USBC and when that condition is of a cause other than improper maintenance or failure to comply with state or local building codes that were in effect when the structure was constructed, then the code official shall be permitted to order those minimum changes to the design or construction of the structure to remedy the condition.

    I think you can use this to require a step to be added.
     
  16. fatboy

    fatboy Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    5,428
    Likes Received:
    386
    I think there is the solution.............^^^^^^
     
  17. mfichter80

    mfichter80 Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    4
    Sorry, I took another trip out there with a tape measure and measured it. (I was

    Ah, thank you... I knew there had to be another line of reasoning in that book somewhere.
     
  18. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,409
    Likes Received:
    202
    With 12" you have enough height to add a step and remove the hazard, no?
     
  19. Jason Knight

    Jason Knight Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2017
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, 12" is way better.
     

Share This Page