Profile picture for Pasadenan

Known code violation with bldg permit and inspection prior to

It was that way when purchased, but never met code, but it had a building permit and was inspected...  and no one said anything at the time of purchase, though it obviously never met the code...

What do you do?
1) Fix it prior to selling it?
2) Just disclose it?
3) Ignore it and wait for someone else to bring up the issue?

Specifically, it was a building addition in the 1970's and the new back door has concrete steps with an inadequate landing, and no handrails.  Replacing the steps would require removing quite a bit of concrete.  Building over them would leave a strange condition.  extending the landing will restrict access space for other things.

Suggestions?
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August 02 2010 - US
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Answers (16)

Profile picture for Pasadenan
Here is a link for California landing requirements for Single Family Residential found with just a quick search.  Notice, it still states 36" minimum in direction of travel.

Stairs, landings, handrails, Single family residential
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August 05 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
And from the IRC (which is not the model code adapted in California, but apparently the requirement is the same)  (For the each side of the door... requirement that is UBC 1003.3.1.6):

From the IRC 2003 Code:

311.4.3 Landings at doors.
There shall be a floor or landing on each side of each exterior door.
Exception: Where a stairway of two or fewer risers is located on the exterior side of a door, other than the required exit door, a landing is not required for the exterior side of the door he floor or landing at the exit door required by Section R311.4.1 shall not be more than 1.5 inches (38 mm) lower than the top of the threshold. The floor or landing at exterior doors other than the exit door required by Section R311.4.1 shall not be required to comply with this requirement but shall have a rise no greater than that permitted in Section R311.5.3.
Exception: The landing at an exterior doorway shall not be more than 7 3/4 inches (196 mm) below the top of the threshold, provided the door, other than an exterior storm or screen door does not swing over the landing.
The width of each landing shall not be less than the door served. Every landing shall have a minimum dimension of 36 inches (914 mm) measured in the direction of travel.

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August 05 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
California amendments to the model code:

Exceptions: 1. Stairways 44 inches or less in width may have one handrail except that such stairways open on one or both sides shall have handrails provided on the open side or sides.
2.  Stairways serving one individual dwelling unit in Group R, Division 1, 3 occupancies may have one handrail, except that stairways open on one or both sides shall have handrails on the open side or sides.
3. Private stairways 30 inches or less in height may have handrails on one side only.
4. Stairways having 3 risers or less and stairways giving access to portable work stands less than 30 inches high are not required to have handrails.
5. Stairways less than 30 inches in width are permitted to have handrails on one side only.
6. The provisions of Section 1003.3.3.6.1a shall not apply to existing covered multifamily buildings.
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August 05 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
If less than a 36" landing measured from the door was adequate in 1978, PLEASE quote the code section that stated it was sufficient; don't just say "the codes change".... of course the codes change.

If no handrails were required for 4 or more risers in 1978, again, PLEASE quote the code section that applied at that time...

If it was an acceptable installation at the time of approval and installation, I would rather disclose it as existing permitted non-conforming condition that met code at time of installation rather than an existing non-conforming condition that never met the code.

Yes, I know it would have been perfectly acceptable in 1950; but it wasn't installed that way in 1950.

Apparently HPVANC was the only one that understood the question.  I would vote his answer as "best"; but I'm still looking for a more thorough answer that actually addresses possible "fixes" and how to specifically address the code issues, as well as what other sellers are being told to do with such code violations by their agents.
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August 05 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
UBC 1003.3.3.6 Handrails.  Stairways shall have handrails on each side, and every stairway required to be more than 88 inches in width shall be provided with not less than one intermediate handrail for each 88 inches of required width.  Intermediate handrails shall be spaced approximately equally across with the entire width of the stairway.  Exceptions: 1.  Stairways less than 44 inches in width or stairways serving one individual dwelling unit in Group R Division 1 or 3 Occupancy or a Group R, Division 3 congregation residence may have one handrail.  2. Private stairways 30 inches or less in height may have a handrail on one side only.  3.  Stairways having less than 4 risers and serving one individual dwelling unit in Group R, Division 1 or 3 or a Group R, Division 3 congregate residence or Group U Occupancies need not have handrails.

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August 05 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
UBC 1003.3.1.7 Landings at doors.  Regardless of occupant load served, landings shall have a width not less than the width of the door or the width of the stairway served, whichever is greater.  Doors in the fully open position shall not reduce a required dimension by more than 7 inches. ...  Landings shall have a length measured in the direction of travel not less than 44 inches.  Exception, In Group R division 3... occupancies and within individual units of group R division 1 occupancies such length need not exceed 36 inches.

UBC 1003.3.3.5 Landings.  There shall be a floor or landing at the top and bottom of each stairway or stair run.  Every landing shall have a dimension measured in the direction of travel not less than the width of the stairway.  Such dimension need not exceed 44 inches where the stair has a straight run  ... For landings with adjourning doors, see section 1003.3.1.7.  Exceptions: 1. In Group R, Division 3,... and within individual units of Group R, Division 1 occupancies, such length need not exceed 36 inches where the stair has a straight run.  2. Stairs serving an unoccupied roof are exempt from these requirements.
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August 05 2010
Profile picture for SoCal Engr
@ Pasa - Dude, gotta say it...

You asked for input on "fix it", "disclose it", or "ignore it". Darrel's initial post said "disclose it". There were a few comments as to general utility, but...

I respect most of your posts, but you're wound a bit tight on this one.
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August 05 2010
Hmmm .......sounds like you are confused and uninformed about egress issues in general and simply want to engage people with inflammatory and unkind rhetoric.
I'm with James Callas; Good luck!
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August 05 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
I ask a serious question about recommendations for a known code violation that had a building permit and was "approved" by the building department at the time of installation, and your answer was that if the door swings in, it is not a problem.  I'm sorry, but the door swings in, and it is still a code violation, even if the screen door is removed.  Any building or home inspector should know that, and should write it up!  Besides, even if the landing was correct, it still requires a handrail that is non-existent!

So you try to "help" on these forums?  Is that why you have only 1 helpful vote, and I have 2,340 helpful votes on this profile alone?

You are not being "helpful", you are advertising that you don't know what you are talking about.
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August 05 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
You are absolutely not correct.  Even with a sliding door, there is a minimum requirement for a landing.

Go ahead, quote the code section.  I've been reading code books a lot longer than you have, and the screen door has NOTHING to do with the code violation.

You have disqualified yourself as an inspector for me.

OK, maybe you are not in an area that adapts the UBC but one of the other areas in the nation that adapts one of the other three model codes?  If so, state which code you are referring to that does NOT make it a code violation, and quote the code section with paragraph number.

I already told you I looked it up in the codes that would apply for the time of the installation since I knew it was in present violation, and it was in violation at the time of the permit and at the time of the installation!  It should have NEVER been installed the way it was!  Your questions only show that you don't bother paying attention and that you wouldn't have written it up either as you would have only given an excuse as to why it was "functional", and completely ignored the code, liability, and safety issues!
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August 05 2010
You don't mention screen door in your original post.
Screen doors can slide and roll sideways into a housing; they don't always swing out.
I never mentioned what I write or do not write in my reply to your post.  I don't have any idea how you gathered any information about me based on my questions to you for more information. 
I'm acutely and massively aware of more building codes, standards and practices and inspection industry related issues than you are and that is why I offered a suggestion as you requested in your original post. If it were other wise ; you would not have generated your original post.

I'm sorry you chose to attack me in the light of the friendly nature that most people offer help when someone like you asks for help on a forum like this. If you are merely trolling for some sort of an inflammatory online passing of time: I'm not going to participate. I'm at the top of my field and that has been beyond dispute for almost 20 years; that is why I ask questions and try to help on this and other forums.
I hope you get it worked out somehow or disclose it as per my original reply.
 
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August 04 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Screen doors always swing out, and that is no excuse for violating the code regardless.  It is still a safety issue if with lots of packages while opening the door you accidentally stepped back, which would also make it a tort liability issue for your insurance company.

And you are an inspector and not writing up these code violations?  I suppose you let people put things in front of the electrical panels too rather than maintaining the minimum 30" wide by 36" deep "working space" from floor to +6½ft required in front of all load centers and panels at all times?

If you are not even going to write up the code violations, why should anyone pay you?
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August 04 2010
Hi Pasadenan,
 Are you saying the steps are interior or exterior ?  If it is an exterior landing why does the door swing out? Could it swing in like most exterior doors w/o causing problems inside?

If those questions are not relevant then just disclose it for sure !
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August 04 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"In the 70's this was not the code(not in our area), but one handrail would have been required." -

It was in the UBC in the 70's, both the landing clearance in front of the door, and the minimum of one handrail when over a given height.

It did not meet the code when installed.  The inspector made them make one minor modification, but the modification didn't meet code either.  It was clear from the plan-check drawings for the permit that the item was not even checked when the plans were reviewed.

Though it can't be "grandfathered in" when it didn't meet code when installed, it is still an existing non-conforming condition that was approved by the building department.

Perhaps your area uses one of the other 3 model codes used throughout the nation rather than UBC?  Otherwise, if you are so sure that it met the code, please provide the text of that paragraph of the code from the 1970's since you are now claiming to be a licensed Architect rather than a copyrighted NAR agent.
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August 04 2010
Profile picture for hpvanc
Disclose it.  It sounds like it is a situation that where it would be advantageous to leave it place until a future major remodel to the are can address all of the issues with changing it.

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August 03 2010

Building in the 70's was different than building now.

Now a minimum of 4 x 6 is required for any landing when the threshold height is 24" or greater from the level ground. Handrails required now as well.
In the 70's this was not the code(not in our area), but one handrail would have been required.

It seems that the code of the 70's was followed and that should be adequate. A house does not to conform to the current code unless remodeling is taking place or being reconstructed from fire or storm.

Good Luck!

James Callas - Realtor®  
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August 03 2010
 
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