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When stairs need not comply

Glenn

Corporate Supporter
Staff member
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Nov 1, 2012
Messages
764
Location
Denver
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?
Good stuff. This reminded me of a story a builder told me. A new deck was built and so an electrical receptacle was required to serve the deck. This extended the service such that AFCI was required. However, the old panelboard could not accommodate, so a service change was necessary. The service change then triggered the smoke/CO alarm mandate, whereas the deck alone would not.
 

Rick18071

Sawhorse
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Nov 28, 2009
Messages
3,103
Location
Poconos/eastern PA
Would not need a permit for electrical work in an existing house here, only the deck when over 30" high. Lots of work get's done here in houses without requiring smoke alarms because a permit is only required when structure work is done in a house per state code except where local amendments change it.
 

Rick18071

Sawhorse
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Nov 28, 2009
Messages
3,103
Location
Poconos/eastern PA
I was involved with a 2021 IRC modification regarding which stairs and ramps must comply with IRC provisions. 311.7 excludes stairs to nonhabitable attics and crawlspaces. It also excludes stairs "not within or serving a building, deck, or patio". This is meant to address "hardscape" stairs in the landscaping.
I'm glad that this is being done. I always asked why wouldn't the stairway in your yard meet these definitions?

[RB] ACCESSORY STRUCTURE. A structure that is
accessory to and incidental to that of the dwelling(s) and that
is located on the same lot.

[RB] STRUCTURE. That which is built or constructed.
 

tbz

Silver Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2010
Messages
799
Location
PA/NJ - Borderlands
I'm glad that this is being done. I always asked why wouldn't the stairway in your yard meet these definitions?

[RB] ACCESSORY STRUCTURE. A structure that is
accessory to and incidental to that of the dwelling(s) and that
is located on the same lot.

[RB] STRUCTURE. That which is built or constructed.
Rick,

The issue I see with landscape stairs and calling them structures becomes were do you draw the line on larger properties or even smaller properties which are water front and have created natural pathways for access with natural stone steps formed or large lawns with level changes made in dirt cuts.

The primary hardscape-landscape stair that leads from lets say the driveway to the upper lawn walkway to the front door has merit, but

now lets say you have a home that is just paver blocks set on ground level and you get to one end of this ground level patio were the grass rolls down, but the owner sets in 3 dirt levels about 30 inches wide and about 5 inches down (rise) each and 24" deep (tread), 20 inches of drop over 72 inches of travel, but the lawn roll out is 96" to get to the 20.

The house I grew up in had a raised concrete patio 5 risers up, compliant stairs down to concrete walkway through lawn, but then had dirt stairs cut in right off the walkway that were 20 inch treads with 6 inch risers, down 14 treads to a dirt path that connected to the trails in the woods behind us.

Definitely landscape, used cut down trees to form nosing/riser, and you stepped down right off the concrete walkway.

Lets reverse it, gravel steps cut into the hill side leading down from the upper lawn to the driveway, no concrete or pavers or I guess structure.

I know today that most people go to the local box store or building/landscape supply and use box goods to build level changes in the lawns and property, but at what point does minimum code become non-minimal?
 
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