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When stairs need not comply

Inspector Gift

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Oct 17, 2009
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390
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City of Sandy, Oregon
So I am guessing from your statement on driveways you don't allow them to be over 1 in 12 is that correct?

and you will require someone in the middle of a large parcel of land lets say 40 plus acers to have a pathway from the middle of that property were the home is to the street, comply with that requirement.

Heck most of the streets were I am located are dirt, not even paved and the roads exceed 1 in 8.

I would agree with the state questioning you, your local authority is over stepping the intent of the IRC and the minimum code. If your going to extend all the way to the public right of way, scrap the IRC and just require every building to be built under the IBC.
City of Sandy development code standards allowed for very steep driveways at time that our policy for a safe walkway was created. There are existing driveways that exceed 34% slope and are a challenge to ascend in dry weather, but are very unsafe and impossible to ascend during winter conditions. The City has since revised the standards for driveways and now limit slope to 15%, and also tightened the requirement so that all driveways must be asphalt or concrete. We do not allow a driveway to be used as part of the "Safe Walkway" if the slope exceeds 8.3% (1 inch per foot) - which is the same for ADA ramps.

Please keep in mind that I work in a small city. Any comments involving gravel driveways and long distances from to the public way are not applicable within City Limits. There are always those who bring up exceptions that appear to run contrary to the code, but can still comply with the intent and purpose of the code. Which brings me to my initial point: The Building Official is authorized to create interpretations and policies based upon the INTENT and PURPOSE of the code.
 
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Inspector Gift

Sawhorse - Made in USA
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
390
Location
City of Sandy, Oregon
Even the IBC does not always require a path to the public way....1028.5
I do not agree with your comment. Please look closer at IBC Section 1028.5.
1028.5 Access to a public way. The exit discharge shall provide a direct and unobstructed access to a public way.

Exception: Where access to a public way cannot be provided, a safe dispersal area shall be provided where all of the following are met:
1. The area shall be of a size to accommodate not less than 5 square feet for each person.
2. The area shall be located on the same lot not less than 50 feet away from the building requiring egress.
3. The area shall be permanently maintained and identified as a safe dispersal area.
4. The area shall be provided with a safe and unobstructed path of travel from the building.

For the record, The City of Sandy's Development Code has always required a safe walkway from commercial buildings to the public sidewalk or public way.
 

Glenn

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OK Glen, waited long enough; If a man's home is no longer to be his castle, then what of personal/visitor safety and accessibility?
ADA avoids SF's but gentrification of present and future occupant needs do not.
Do insurance companies see an advantage to considering this?
I want to reply, but honestly I don't know what you are trying to say. The "OK glen, waited long enough" sounds like disagreement of some sort, but I haven't share a single opinion of mine, so I'm confused. This is a discussion point only. Please clarify so that I can discuss.

Personally, my house is my castle and I could cut the IRC mandatory requirements in half if it were up to me. But it's not... so I pose discussion points to find out what we collectively can agree on. Then I will write 2024 proposals while I build my hideout deep in the mountains to escape society, ha, ha!
 

Glenn

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The Building Official is authorized to create interpretations and policies based upon the INTENT and PURPOSE of the code.
This is one of my favorite. 30% of the pages of the I-code family require the building official's discretion. approved.jpeg
 

JCraver

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Feb 20, 2014
Messages
829
Location
Southern IL
Glenn, You started the discussion regarding code language regarding stairs, but then broadly expanded the discussion by mentioning "Exterior walking surfaces, ramps, stairs, driveways, patios, porches, decks, concrete slabs, crusher fine pathways, etc,...".

The City of Sandy is predominately located on a hillsides and ravines, with the majority of homes having sloping driveways and has ice and snow every winter. We have adopted a policy to require One-and-Two Family Residential homes be provided with a "Safe Walkway to the street, sidewalk or the public way". This policy applies the same standards for stairs, handrails and ramps to the required Safe Walkway. Oregon Building Codes Division questioned our requirement, saying that it was not supported by the Residential Code. However, we pointed to Intent and Purpose as being the fundamental standard, and that our policy was consistent with the Intent statement. Further more, the duties and powers of the Building Official states that the Building Official has the authority to render interpretations and adopt policies that are in compliance with the intent and purpose of the code. Our policy is to provide a safe walkway from the primary entrance to the public way. The driveway may be used as part of the Safe Walkway if it does not exceed a slope of 1 unit vertical to 12 units horizontal (8.3%) and does not have a cross slope greater than 1/4 inch per foot (2%).

So back to your question regarding my statement. The intent of the building code is to provide minimum requirements to safeguard the public safety - including fire fighters and emergency responders. And I would suggest that also includes building inspectors, mail carriers, delivery persons, etc...

I know you didn't ask for my opinion but I'm going to give it to you anyway - ^^ that's nonsense. Because your BO (or you, if you're the top guy?) believes a "safe walkway" from the house to the road is somehow safer than doing without does not make it code. You can modify your local zoning and/or planning ordinances to mandate it if you want and, while I'd still think it was dumb and recommend against it, at least it would be in the right place and done correctly. Stretching the charging language of the code to set a policy to get it done is completely wrong. Policies are bad, anyway - a policy for how much a copy costs or who makes the coffee or what time inspections start is fine (I guess), but policies that make rules are bad. The BO shouldn't be making rules - he should be reading the rules out of the book(s).

** If I misunderstood how you accomplished your requirement and it is codified within your ordinances then disregard all that, but your post doesn't read like that's how you did it.



I disagree with your last sentence, too. Occupants and first responders is all you get out of 101.3 - inspectors, mailmen, and the Amazon driver don't make the cut. See the Commentary:

❖ The intent of the code is to establish regulations providing for safety, health and general welfare of building occupants, as well as for fire fighters and emergency responders during building emergencies. The intent becomes important in the application of such sections as Sections R102, R104.11 and R113, as well as any enforcement-oriented interpretive action or judgment. Like any code, the written text is subject to interpretation. Interpretations should not be affected by economics or the potential impact on any party. The only considerations should be occupants’ safety, protection of occupants’ health and welfare and emergency responder safety.
 

steveray

Sawhorse
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
8,602
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West of the river CT
I do not agree with your comment. Please look closer at IBC Section 1028.5.
1028.5 Access to a public way. The exit discharge shall provide a direct and unobstructed access to a public way.

Exception: Where access to a public way cannot be provided, a safe dispersal area shall be provided where all of the following are met:
1. The area shall be of a size to accommodate not less than 5 square feet for each person.
2. The area shall be located on the same lot not less than 50 feet away from the building requiring egress.
3. The area shall be permanently maintained and identified as a safe dispersal area.
4. The area shall be provided with a safe and unobstructed path of travel from the building.

For the record, The City of Sandy's Development Code has always required a safe walkway from commercial buildings to the public sidewalk or public way.
What is not to agree with? There is an exception to providing access to a public way, which is what I said "not always"....If we take this to IRC land, my 6 person house needs a 30 sqft spot 50' from the building....I have a front yard for that
 

Sifu

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Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
1,636
"Reasonable" level of safety. Interesting that word wasn't used in the 2018 IRC section. The use of reasonable is at times frustrating, because sometimes it is easier to live in the black and white, and at times helpful, when we are able to consider alternatives or unique conditions. Gift has different conditions than I do, and it may be reasonable to administer their codes the way they do, but unreasonable for me.

As for this particular topic, I stop at safety. For me that is on my giant flat lawn, but for Gift, it may be down a slippery slope (pun intended). I, for one, don't want every possible situation spelled out in the code....I want less code rather than more. I adhere to the philosophy that the code was and should have remained a minimum criteria, and if an AHJ wants to add to it based on their own unique criteria then they should be able to. That is fairly easy to do, and I believe comes with limited liability. But if we go over-board for a "minimum" code, and in order to be "reasonable" we have to amend down or lessen the code in some way, then we open a whole 'nother can of worms.

I think the 2021 IRC is roughly 120 pages longer than the 2018, which was 50 pages longer than the 2015. Where will it stop? Get people to safety for what is "conventional and common", and let AHJ's add to it if needed.

Anyway, great topic and video by Glenn as always.
 

tbz

Silver Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2010
Messages
775
Location
PA/NJ - Borderlands
City of Sandy development code standards allowed for very steep driveways at time that our policy for a safe walkway was created. There are existing driveways that exceed 34% slope and are a challenge to ascend in dry weather, but are very unsafe and impossible to ascend during winter conditions. The City has since revised the standards for driveways and now limit slope to 15%, and also tightened the requirement so that all driveways must be asphalt or concrete. We do not allow a driveway to be used as part of the "Safe Walkway" if the slope exceeds 8.3% (1 inch per foot) - which is the same for ADA ramps.

Please keep in mind that I work in a small city. Any comments involving gravel driveways and long distances from to the public way are not applicable within City Limits. There are always those who bring up exceptions that appear to run contrary to the code, but can still comply with the intent and purpose of the code. Which brings me to my initial point: The Building Official is authorized to create interpretations and policies based upon the INTENT and PURPOSE of the code.
IG,

I get your points, but none of what you are pulling is supported by the actual code, as the ICC would and has published interps that jurisdiction ends at grade for the IRC.

If your local town wants to add zoning saying no gravel driveways or pavers allowed, only asphalt or concrete, and that the driveways need to meet ayz and all homes must a path to public way meeting stair and ramp geometry within the IRC for tread and riser configurations. I could see that, but to say you interp the IRC to take you all the way to the public way, is an over step of power without the zoning charging the requirement.

The IRC is not just for little towns.

I get your point, using the IRC to enforce something that it was never in tended to do, to create a perfect world, that is not minimum code compliance.
 

steveray

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Nov 25, 2009
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West of the river CT
I think we are getting a little too critical of IG....As the IRC means nothing without AHJ/ local adoption, that AHJ can do whatever they want with it at adoption formally, or even through interpretation...Where I am glad I do not have to enforce IRC egress off the site, I don't care if the State of Oregon or a particular municipality thinks they need to, as long as they are within their legal jurisdiction to do so....
 

JCraver

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Feb 20, 2014
Messages
829
Location
Southern IL
I think we are getting a little too critical of IG....As the IRC means nothing without AHJ/ local adoption, that AHJ can do whatever they want with it at adoption formally, or even through interpretation...Where I am glad I do not have to enforce IRC egress off the site, I don't care if the State of Oregon or a particular municipality thinks they need to, as long as they are within their legal jurisdiction to do so....

I did that and I apologize - my post could come off harsher than I intended. What I was trying to convey is that I disagree with the way they did it. Policies are bad if they set code, and so are interpretations that stretch the language - that's what I was getting at.
 

JCraver

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Messages
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Southern IL
"Reasonable" level of safety. Interesting that word wasn't used in the 2018 IRC section. The use of reasonable is at times frustrating, because sometimes it is easier to live in the black and white, and at times helpful, when we are able to consider alternatives or unique conditions. Gift has different conditions than I do, and it may be reasonable to administer their codes the way they do, but unreasonable for me.

As for this particular topic, I stop at safety. For me that is on my giant flat lawn, but for Gift, it may be down a slippery slope (pun intended). I, for one, don't want every possible situation spelled out in the code....I want less code rather than more. I adhere to the philosophy that the code was and should have remained a minimum criteria, and if an AHJ wants to add to it based on their own unique criteria then they should be able to. That is fairly easy to do, and I believe comes with limited liability. But if we go over-board for a "minimum" code, and in order to be "reasonable" we have to amend down or lessen the code in some way, then we open a whole 'nother can of worms.

I think the 2021 IRC is roughly 120 pages longer than the 2018, which was 50 pages longer than the 2015. Where will it stop? Get people to safety for what is "conventional and common", and let AHJ's add to it if needed.

Anyway, great topic and video by Glenn as always.

Great post. I agree 1000%.
 

Inspector Gift

Sawhorse - Made in USA
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
390
Location
City of Sandy, Oregon
I know you didn't ask for my opinion but I'm going to give it to you anyway - ^^ that's nonsense. Because your BO (or you, if you're the top guy?) believes a "safe walkway" from the house to the road is somehow safer than doing without does not make it code. You can modify your local zoning and/or planning ordinances to mandate it if you want and, while I'd still think it was dumb and recommend against it, at least it would be in the right place and done correctly. Stretching the charging language of the code to set a policy to get it done is completely wrong. Policies are bad, anyway - a policy for how much a copy costs or who makes the coffee or what time inspections start is fine (I guess), but policies that make rules are bad. The BO shouldn't be making rules - he should be reading the rules out of the book(s).

** If I misunderstood how you accomplished your requirement and it is codified within your ordinances then disregard all that, but your post doesn't read like that's how you did it.



I disagree with your last sentence, too. Occupants and first responders is all you get out of 101.3 - inspectors, mailmen, and the Amazon driver don't make the cut. See the Commentary:

❖ The intent of the code is to establish regulations providing for safety, health and general welfare of building occupants, as well as for fire fighters and emergency responders during building emergencies. The intent becomes important in the application of such sections as Sections R102, R104.11 and R113, as well as any enforcement-oriented interpretive action or judgment. Like any code, the written text is subject to interpretation. Interpretations should not be affected by economics or the potential impact on any party. The only considerations should be occupants’ safety, protection of occupants’ health and welfare and emergency responder safety.
JCarver, I appreciate reading your opinion and the time you took to express it. While we may not agree on every point regarding the application of the codes, we are in agreement that they are intended to make for a safer building environment.
 

Rick18071

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Nov 28, 2009
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Poconos/eastern PA
A path to a public way> Most houses where I inspect are in gated communities so the roads are not public.

So 2021 is using the word "porch" for the first time. I there a definition in the IRC?
 

Glenn

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Denver
You guys are going to make me cry. I love the respect for each other. Keep that up while we talk out this stuff. The people of the country are counting on us.
 

Glenn

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A path to a public way> Most houses where I inspect are in gated communities so the roads are not public.

So 2021 is using the word "porch" for the first time. I there a definition in the IRC?
Porch is used in Table R602.7(3) for roofs and floors. This table needs to be adjusted to work better with the new 507 deck provisions.

The issue of terms for these features is a big issue in consistent use of the IRC and is on my "to do" list for proposals. However, it is not easy thing to address. Many portions of the code reference these horizontal surfaces, from safety glazing, to cladding clearances, to this subject. What's a patio? A slab? a "similar horizontal surfaces"? All of these terms are used as well.
 

tbz

Silver Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2010
Messages
775
Location
PA/NJ - Borderlands
I think we are getting a little too critical of IG....As the IRC means nothing without AHJ/ local adoption, that AHJ can do whatever they want with it at adoption formally, or even through interpretation...Where I am glad I do not have to enforce IRC egress off the site, I don't care if the State of Oregon or a particular municipality thinks they need to, as long as they are within their legal jurisdiction to do so....
Steveray,

I would not agree, I don't think anyone was getting critical of IG directly, though it might come out that way to non-frequent posters, those that post often on here I believe, or maybe I am just the oddity, see through the personalities, and focus on the direct content. Everyone has their colorful way of expressing themselves, but always come around to the point.

My point, to be more direct is if local zoning adds it in, then go for it, however the IRC by itself as adopted statewide by OR, does not.
 

ADAguy

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Sep 11, 2013
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California
Porch is used in Table R602.7(3) for roofs and floors. This table needs to be adjusted to work better with the new 507 deck provisions.

The issue of terms for these features is a big issue in consistent use of the IRC and is on my "to do" list for proposals. However, it is not easy thing to address. Many portions of the code reference these horizontal surfaces, from safety glazing, to cladding clearances, to this subject. What's a patio? A slab? a "similar horizontal surfaces"? All of these terms are used as well.
Patio: enclosed, open to the sky, covered without walls, etc.?
 

Glenn

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I could use the exact words of the IRC to prohibit a roof covering outside the required egress door. Note it must "open to a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way".

Go see what the definition for yard and court say about "unobstructed to the sky"...

Problem.
 

Rick18071

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Nov 28, 2009
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Poconos/eastern PA
Another problem is when smoke alarms are required to comply to IRC in existing houses. IRC says they are not required when adding a porch or deck. But what if it is an enclosed porch? Would it be really an "addition" and not a porch?

If the porch walls and roof had over 40% glazing then it's a "Sunroom" per IRC definition. Would it still be considered a porch also and smokes in the existing house are not required to comply to IRC?
 
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