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City wonít allow me to rebuild stairs.

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Old 11-22-18, 03:21 PM
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City wonít allow me to rebuild stairs.

I have a basement I am finishing in a 1910 home. The current stairs are not to code and quite frankly are a safety hazard. Iíd like to rebuild them, however, the city wonít allow it because even if rebuilt they canít be built to code. Iíve had an inspector out to review the stairs and they will not allow a variance.

The stairs arenít to code and canít be rebuilt to code because of a overall restricted run. The current stairs are made up of 5x to code steps at the top, a 4í landing, and the remaining steps to the basement floor are extremely steep (6Ē tread and 9Ē riser. Iíd at least like to rebuild them and average out the riser and treads so theyíre consistent (Iíve done the math and even this does not allow the riser and treads to be to code). So, thatís a over simplified explanation of my problem.

My question, am I just screwed? Can the city really not allow me to rebuild them? Hypothetically, what if my basement had no stairs, how would I ever finish my basement to code? The cityís stance seems unreasonable.

Thanks!
 
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Old 11-22-18, 03:26 PM
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What happens if you use the number closest to the maximum rise for all the treads (7 3/4" depending on your code) and make the landing a minimum 36x36? Would that 12" help your lower run?

Or what about eliminating the landing and using winders at the turn?
 
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Old 11-22-18, 04:29 PM
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Here is a winder example:

https://softplantuts.com/sites/softp...efinitions.png

image credit: softplantuts dot com
 
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Old 11-22-18, 05:25 PM
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XSleeper,

Even with the landing removed I still have steps that arenít to code. Let me get a drawing that represents whatís there today, as well as what I proposed to the inspector. A drawing will help show this issues. Iíll post back soon.

Thanks!
 
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Old 11-23-18, 05:12 AM
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See if they will consider some alternate configurations. Here's an illustration of the alternate step approach and the space savings.

Bud
 
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Old 11-24-18, 08:36 PM
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xSleeper,

So here is what I got (bear with me, there are a few issues). The image below (right click, open in new tab for larger version) details both the existing staircase (solid lines) and what I have proposed (dashed lines). Also below is a picture of the stairs as the exist today.


It would seem the biggest issues the inspector had was...
  1. My proposed 32" tread widths beginning at tread #7 (despite the existing treads also being 32"). I cannot widen the tread to 36".
  2. Tread #11 also having a width of 32". Hopefully, my drawing and winder detail will explain why it is difficult if not impossible to widen tread #11.

Two issues that I also have not solved are...
  1. Tread #12 I assume I'll have to make a 3.5" step.
  2. A section/sliver of tread #10 falls underneath a ceiling joist which means it does not have 6' 8" ceiling clearance.

All that said, I'm not sure If I am asking for help on these issues or asking for help with whether or not the city can simply say "no, you cannot rebuild your stairs and must use the stairs that came with your home". That's crazy, right? I should note, the inspector is requiring proper handrails and railing be added to the existing stairs (if that's the route I am forced to take). Thanks!



 
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Old 11-25-18, 05:19 AM
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OK I know I shouldn't be saying this. But how did the city inspector get involved in the first place. Why did you not just fix the stairs and be done with it? I'm all for codes and doing the job right, but that does not mean you need to get politics involved (and I suspect that is what is happening in this case). The inspector is being hard assed and maybe something you said or did tick him off. What does the inspector say is the correct way to fix the stairs? If you were get a professional contractor to do t he job and he would be responsible for permits, would that solve the problem?

It's unsafe as they are, and any thing you come up with is not to his liking, so it seems there is no solution. That can't be.
 
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Old 11-25-18, 06:27 AM
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If you can show that there is no physical solution and no financial solution and all suggestions have been rejected, then you can apply for a variance based upon hardship. If the town rejects the variance application then it could go to court. PIA process but when they insist upon zero compromise and you want safer steps it may be the only path.

You might want to get an architect involved as their opinion carries more weight than yours.

A trick to selecting an architect is to pay attention to the ones who appear before the planning board most often. They are frequently on a first name basis with all members who will be making the decisions. If s/he makes a proposal it might just get approved and if there are examples that could be cited they would know.

Bud
 
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Old 11-25-18, 10:23 AM
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Have you pulled permits for anything in the house? Physically submitted these to the building dept other than showing them to an inspector?

Edit: Just reread the first post that you are refinishing basement, so I'm guessing probably the answer is yes to at least my first question.
 

Last edited by Tumble; 11-25-18 at 10:27 AM. Reason: Reread first post
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Old 11-26-18, 11:23 AM
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I guess I missed it...does code say the treads must be at least 36" wide? Is the load bearing wall you are referring to the far wall or the near wall with the three white studs? Could you remove that short wall and kick the stairs 4" that direction? Or perhaps you could install a beam that spans the entire width of the room so you can remove those three studs and give yourself a cleared opening to make the stairs the proper width.

Regarding the rise on step 12, I would think you should be able to adjust all the other steps by 1/4" or so to get a consistent rise across all steps. 7-3/4" is the maximum rise, but you can always go less. Does 7-1/2" work?

Would relocating the staircase altogether be a viable option?
 
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