New construction, carpeted stairs height

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Old 07-05-15, 04:37 PM
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New construction, carpeted stairs height

We have contracted with a local construction company to have a new home built. It is under construction with a hopeful completion date of July 31. They just completed the drywall work and painting should commence tomorrow. We met with the project manager last week.

The upstairs consists of a finished room over the garage, a finished closet, an unfinished area we plumbing rough-ins for a future bathroom, and about 100 sq ft of unfinished attic area.

The stair landing on the first floor is in the living room. The flooring is a hardwood, which is already installed. The stairs are to be carpeted, but that has not been installed yet. The step height is 8 inches from the floor to the top of the first tread. Each subsequent step is also 8 inches. Virginia code calls for a maximum height of 8-1/4 inches and no more than 3/8" variance in step height in a flight of stairs. My concern is that the carpet and padding, when installed, are going to add more than 1/4" to the height of the first step and will also violate the 3/8" variance part of the code. The project manager doesn't seem to think this is going to be a problem, but I also get the feeling he's feeding me a line of crap on a lot of stuff, so I'm not sure he was really trying to understand my concern and if he'd even admit it if he did.

So my reason for posting here is to ask if I should be concerned about this. Even if the county building inspector doesn't notice it or if he's willing to overlook it, it could still cause a problem later when we sell the house if the buyer's home inspector notices it.
Secondly, if you agree that I should be concerned about this, what recourse do I have? Should I make sure I'm there when the county building inspector comes out and point it out to him? I guess I'll know more after the actual carpet is installed and I can measure the final height.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Old 07-05-15, 05:25 PM
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Your inspection and CO (Certificate of Occupancy) will be issued based on the houses condition at the time of inspection. They don't inspect based upon future plans. So, you should be OK if your current stairs meet code.

In the future it's doubtful to become an issue. Stair tread measurements in my experience have always been done at the rough in stage so I've never dealt with it after carpet is installed. You are correct though that there is the difficulty of dealing with a compressible (squishy) material. How do you measure it's height? How hard do you press down to measure the height? Then if the floors above and below the stairs are carpeted all the surfaces will rise by the same amount so you're still OK.
 
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Old 07-05-15, 05:50 PM
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What did they use for stair treads? Regular 1" tread material or 2x construction lumber knowing it was to be carpeted? If the latter, they could install regular stair tread material and give you 1/2". That may not work for the landing step, but study it and let us know what you have.
 
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Old 07-05-15, 06:06 PM
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Pilot Dane, you raise an interesting point. I think the carpet will be installed before the final inspection. Or perhaps now that I've pointed this out, they will get the inspection done before they bring in the carpet installers. I don't know if there's any requirement that the bedrooms would have to have carpet before the CO could be issued so maybe they'd delay the whole thing.


I guess it all hinges on this question...when does the inspector come out for the final inspection? What has to be completed?

Chandler, The stair treads are the 1x oak material. The upgraded package we bought for our house(standard for this subdivision) includes oak treads on the stairs, but we asked to have them carpeted because we have a little one and we felt carpet would be better for him. We weren't counting on them being oak and I actually think it was an oversight when the builder ordered the stairs. Why incur that expense just to cover them up with carpet?
 
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Old 07-05-15, 06:32 PM
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Why incur that expense just to cover them up with carpet?
My point, exactly. Since you will have nice treads and risers, what option would you have for a central runner carpet, so the little one won't bonk his/her head too hard, but still leave the beauty of the wood and the potential of an inspection boo boo from happening. I don't think the carpeting will give the inspector a difficult time as long as all the risers are within the parameters of 3/8" variance.

Another way of thinking of it is the finished oak treads are code compliant. A future inspection would see that and note the carpeting was added. Not really a construction error. BUT, it is your house and you have to be satisfied with it.
 
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