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Safety issues stairing at me!

 

     I have done posts to my blog in the past about the stairs, and how as a component in the home, they are perhaps one of the most difficult things to get right.

     There is tread width, riser height, riser/tread ratios, consistency of riser height, nosings,  stair width, slope of treads and many other factors.

     Side barriers and hand railings are more things to take into account.

     On a recent new townhouse I found a hand rail that was not parallel to the run of stairs.  As in this next picture “A” and “B” should be equal. 

Stair handrailings

     In this case the railing at the top of the stairs, from a point at the stair nosing vertical to the handrail, measured over 41.” 

Handrailing too high

    At the bottom the height was 37.” 

Handrailing at the proper height

     This meant that “A” and “B” could not be equal.

Current regulations require the hand rail to be between 34” and 38” from the nosing vertical to the handrail.

     While this might not be considered a “major” safety issue----it is new construction----and thus should meet the requirements at the time of construction.

Charles Buell

 

 

 

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Comment balloon 26 commentsCharles Buell • February 21 2009 12:17PM

Comments

Sounds like a rushed job or someone that did not care to make it right.  Hammer in some nails here and so be it.

Posted by Angelia Garcia (Pure Realtors) over 9 years ago

That's pretty interesting, I didn't realize how much thought went into a set of stairs.  It shouldn't be that hard to make the hand rail parallel.

Posted by Brian Opperud (Hot Realty Leads) over 9 years ago

good thing there is a construction warranty on the townhome so that the buyers can get it fixed.  I like your approach that this is not a "deal killer" and can be corrected relatively easily.

Posted by Martin Kalisker, Professional Standards & Legal Assistant (Greater Boston Association of REALTORS) over 9 years ago

Angelia, it is surprizing how often the railing and the run of stairs are not parallel.

Brian---not if you measure carefully.  A case of checking and re-checking.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Martin, I think that any buyer that backed out because of an improperly installed handrail was really looking for a way out:)  Now I have seen some handrails that would be very costly to make right---but still shouldn't be a deal killer----especially as you say---when it is under warranty.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I am drawn to your post about stairs today because I just fell down mine!  All is well, just a quick  spill.  I didnt' realize so much went into stairs...

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 9 years ago

Jared, lots of serious accidents happen on stairs----one of the reasons it is so important for them to be installed properly and to current standards.  Upgrading older, unsafe stairs can be very expensive---but so is a broken neck.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles, it is amazing how so much of life comes down to details, and how important they are. That's why Inspectors will always be around. Job security.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

Gary I think you are right----seems like there is no shortage of opportunities for job security.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Well they didn't have a mark on the level for that stair slope so they got as close as they could.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

good eye wise guy.  cw

Posted by Cheryl Willis, MO Broker - Mt Vernon, Monett, Aurora, Barry & Law (RE/MAX Solutions- OZARK MISSOURI) over 9 years ago

Your first photo is simply an optical illusion - like looking down parallel railroad tracks and thinking they are moving together.  You can't fool me!  AND, if you stare at the "B" long enough, and take your eyes away, you see the image of Elvis.

You're going to try it now, aren't you!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jack maybe they had no type of measuring device at all?

Cheryl---hope you are doing well.

Jay, you got the Elvis part right---I see him in everything---even in my pancakes this morning:)  These stairs the hand rail is actually parallel to the run---it was the flight above this one to the third floor that was messed up.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Attention to detail is a wonderful thing, isn't it? especially in new construction.

Posted by Jim Albano, Team - Jean-Marie Vantuno / Realtors North Jersey Real Estate (Prudential Damiano Realty ) over 9 years ago

All of life is about paying attention me thinks:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charlie - I just checked eBay.  You simply could not have had pancakes with an image of Elvis in them or they would have been up for sale by now!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Stairs and handrails are something that homeowners sometimes try to do on their own when making decks or additions, and usually fail miserably at getting right. It is pretty much unexcuseable though, when a builder does it, who is supposed to know the codes and requirements, and follow them.

Posted by Kevin Corsa, H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector (H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)) over 9 years ago

Jay, my mistake----must have been Donald Duck:)

Kevin, definately less expected on the interior.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Stairs and handrails seem to be an item where I often find problems, especially as Kevin said on decks. The deck handrail is usually a 2 x 4, 2 x 6 or 5/4 board turned wide side up.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hey Charles,

Was this issue visually noticeable? ..... without using the blue lines?

Sean Allen

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) over 9 years ago

James---yest exterior handrails alwasy seem to be the worse.

Sean, I am used to using the handrails while checking them and it just "felt" odd by the time I got to the top----so then I started measuring.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Yeah, in my area (PA) we have alot of stair issues. Even on the most simpilist of stairs, things can be terribly wrong. Haha

Posted by home inspection morris county over 9 years ago

What is the allowed stair height, not to require a hand rail...was informed 18' of steps are ok with out hand railng..is this OK for the insiade of the home as the outside.

Merci

Greg

Posted by Rose remodeling about 9 years ago

Anything with more four or more risers has to have a handrail per IRC

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago
I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I'm assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I'm not very internet smart so I'm not 100% sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Appreciate it
Posted by analklazyganK almost 6 years ago
Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with Search Engine Optimization? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good results. If you know of any please share. Cheers!
Posted by analklazyganK almost 6 years ago

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