Profile picture for user0589525

Spindle width not up to city code

Hello! I just purchased a home in chicago il and I am in the process of remodeling. The contractor stated it is city code that the spindles on stairs cannot be more than 4 inches and mine are 5.5''. Is this something someone should have caught during an inspection? Who should I go after?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!
  • March 10 2014 - US
  • 0
    0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

 
 

Answers (7)

Best Answer

Profile picture for blank screen EXILED
It is likely grandfathered in, but is still a potential safety issue for a small child.  The code is that way to prevent a baby from crawling through and falling, or getting their head stuck.  But who would let their baby be on the stairs by themselves in the first place?

No, there likely is no one that you can go after.  Either you accept the existing non conforming condition as is as did the city when they gave the occupancy permit, OR, you take it apart and add the additional spindles at the closer spacing.
  • March 10 2014
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for James Hoppe
As a licensed California Architect and Real Estate Broker, I would like to correct several of my fellow real estate colleague's statements and clarify a few things about your inquiry.

The "current" and required spacing, per code, is set at a maximum of 4-inches "on-center" (OC). It depends on when your home was built and the prevailing codes that were in-place at the time of the original construction. The spindle spacing width might have been to the code at that time.

Your contractor MAY NOT understand that your local Building and Safety Department (BSD) is the ultimate decision maker in the process about what should be brought up-to-code and what can be overlooked.

There are exceptions for everything. As an example, if you are doing a kitchen remodel and upgrading a downstairs bathroom, chances are, you will NOT have to bring the spindle spacing up-to-code. Or, in some cases, your local BSD will require you to make certain upgrades throughout the home within a certain percentage of the total construction cost that your contractor/architect originally submitted to the BSD. For example, the estimated construction cost was $20,000. The BSD may require, let's say, 10 percent of that estimated cost to go toward various code and energy upgrades throughout the home or just within the kitchen and bathroom areas (the construction zone). Therefore, in this example, your total construction cost will now be adjusted up to $22,000. The BSD may tell you exactly what you MUST do and it might not include the spindle spacing issue. You may just have to do some energy and electrical code upgrades in the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom.

With all of that said, you MAY NOT have to bring your stairs and/or spindle spacing up-to-code. I wish people could please STOP thinking about who they can sue or go after. Ultimately, you, as the Buyer, purchased the home in all of its glory. Nobody forced you to buy it. You, as the homeowner, have the full and complete responsibility. So, man-up! Own it and move forward with your remodel.

If your home inspector didn't bring it up, and I am assuming that you had a professional home inspection, then that was his/her mistake. Additionally, most Realtors should know this as well. Again, if your agent and the listing broker didn't mention the spacing issue... they made a mistake by omitting that issue as well.

As a disclaimer, I don't know your entire story, and simply gave you some examples about what you MAY be able to do. If your contractor insists on updating the spindle spacing, show him my response.

Remember, your local BSD runs the show, not your contractor.
  • March 11 2014
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for user0589525
Oh no about the remodel! does it matter how extensive the remodel will be? Im just painting and redoing bathrooms.

Its a winding staircase with three floors :( will be costly
  • March 11 2014
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

If you are remodeling, you will have to bring the entire house up to code, including the width of the spindles.  You should do it now while you are having work done to the house, since you might have trouble when you sell.

This is a pretty easily spotted code violation the inspector should have seen.  However, it's probably not worth suing over.  Just get it corrected and recoup the money when you sell.
  • March 11 2014
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for blank screen EXILED
"maybe my contractor wanted a bigger job!" -

Contractors are always looking for change-order opportunities.
  • March 11 2014
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for sunnyview
Many inspectors are not focused on issues like this since codes change all the time and an existing house does not have to come up to the new code for most things to be legal or acceptable.

Adding spindles can be a solution from fairly simple to fairly complex depending on the stair construction and finish. If you have kids or there is a concern, you might consider adding plexiglass panels over the existing spindles. They are not too expensive, resolve any safety issue and keep the look of the current stair. Congrats on your new house!
  • March 11 2014
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for user0589525
Thank you for the response! I forgot about it being grandfathered in...maybe my contractor wanted a bigger job!
  • March 11 2014
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.