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9/12/2012 11:13:09 PM
I had a small porch at the sideof my house completely rebuilt last winter by a local contractor, the porch is very nice solid and sturdy with compisite decking. My problem is that now I am trying to refinance and my lender is giving me a run around about this porch. First after the Apraisal and inspection they asked for a hand rail so I called them and asked what and why then called the contractor who advised me how to build it so I did since it was a small project. the porch deck is only 29 inches off the ground and has stairs with 3 raisers. Tuesday they reinspected and said the railing are the same and i need to install hand rails. there is only a wall for one hand rail to be attached to. Is a hand rail on one side enough to meet code? from what I am reading with 4 or fewer raisers none is needed.
My other guess is that they are not saying correctly what they want and really want a railing/fence/gaurd around the whole porch. My contractor does not think it is required since the deck is less than 3 feet off the ground, the plans for the permit were submitted as it is and approved by my borough. so what do i need to do if anything to meet the correct codes that should satisfy the lenders requirements or are they just bullying me with a bunch of nonsense?
9/13/2012 9:35:36 AM
When dealing with the bank you probably have to pony up and do what they ask. It isn't unusual for banks to ask for stuff that isn't required by code. They are trying to protect an investment and are probably using an individual for the appraisal that doesn't know the code---just knows what he's used to seeing.
Hand rails aren't required for 4 or fewer risers on a single family home but three steps aren't very safe without one. One side should be sufficient but ask. You are probably right they want guards which aren't required for something under 30 inches but have you ever inadvertently backed off a 20 inch step? The code is minimum and has to get approved so some stuff is odd. The porch is safer with a guard and the guard rail may improve the look---makes it look like every body else's porch.
DK Engineering PLLCdkengineer.com
9/13/2012 9:56:56 AM
Thanks for the response. I do see and agree with the hand rail and think it will add to the safety of the place. I had no problem installing one, granted I am only 38 and really don't need to use it being in shape and able to get around well.
I did talk to the loan officer that is handeling the refinance and her take was that I did what they asked by what I told her and the pictures I sent and she does not know what the problem is but is going to work it out. She said they often just drive by and never get out of the car so he may not have seen something near the rear of the property from the street, and being the houses are close it is possable. We will see.
they are asking for things that are not in code and that they also did not require when they made the original mortgage for me 6 years ago.as far as gaurds non of the houses like mine in my neighborhood have gaurds on this rear/side porch, some do have a hand rail. Putting up a guard rail will make my house different.
the loan is not FHA either this is a conventional loan which from what I understand these safety things are not usually checked for
9/19/2012 3:26:49 PM
Another thought is that it may be 29 inches high at the porch / ground interface but grade is actually measured 6 feet out from the building . We have folks who try to mound up the grade around the house to avoid handrails. We just measure out 6 feet and then measure. Most end up putting handrails on.
The bank and the insurance companies sometimes will make you jump through hoops in order to buy their product.
Certified Building Official
9/20/2012 10:55:11 AM
You are confusing "Grade" with "Grade Plane"
GRADE. The finished ground level adjoining the building at all exterior walls .
GRADE PLANE. A reference plane representing the average of the finished ground level adjoining the building at all exterior walls . Where the finished ground level slopes away from the exterior walls , the reference plane shall be established by the lowest points within the area between the building and the lot line or, where the lot line is more than 6 ft (1829 mm) from the building between the structure and a point 6 ft (1829 mm) from the building.
36 inches would be the correct horizontal measurement
R312.1 Where required.Guards shall be located along open-sided walking surfaces, including stairs, ramps and landings, that are located more than 30 inches (762 mm) measured vertically to the floor or grade below at any point within 36 inches (914 mm) horizontally to the edge of the open side
ICC does not stand for Intentionally Clear and Concise
9/20/2012 11:24:21 AM
well I don't think the "grade Plane" will have much to do with my situation if that is measured from the porch edge to the property line on six feet out. with my house the porch is on the side then there is a concret walk about 3 feet or so wide which would be near flat and level, out beyond the walk is the property line and my neighbors wooden fence that fallows the property line. there is really no way that the grade plane to the property line from the floor of that porch is 36" the lender is just being picky and it is some underwrighter that only sees a few pictutes deciding that there is need for a gaurdrailing or " hand rails" as they incorrectly called it to waste my time. If I fell from it I would shortly be on the ground or more tham likely fall in to the neighbors fence and maybe suffer a scratch or two.
I did talk to the manager at the apraisers office that is doing the inspection and he told me the just put one treated 2x4 just over waist high across the open area from the wall to the post that goes up to the balcony above which is a foot and half from the one side of the steps. there is also a hand rail om the other side of the steps and that would meet the minimun that PNC mortgage was looking for. So they said they sent the report to PNC Tuesday before noon and that they stated it passed inspection and I am just waiting for the lender to review it. Hopefully they will be happy and I can close the deal. as for the rail I will maybe leave it up until it get in the way of moving furnature or an appliance then its gone.
12/19/2012 10:39:56 AM
Grade plane doesn't come into effect because it takes into account ALL 4 sides of a building. Grade plane normally comes into play with basements.
As far as grade, no less than an ICC instructor who is also a PE taught me to measure grade 6 feet from the building and not at the wall/ground interface. That will be good enough for me.
of course you results may vary
1/2/2013 8:35:20 AM
I have been building new homes since the 80's and as rule of thumb (even that the code specifies 30"> in height ) we always installed railing when you have 2 treads and a landing (3 risers)
With that said, I would still put a railing if there is 3 + risers, because in IMO 4 risers (30">) is a bit high for someone older to walk up or down the stair without a graspable railing, especially if they carry something. I know in NJ most towns will require a handrail based on 2 risers or more.
1/7/2013 4:52:47 PM
The height of handrails shall be not more than 37 inches (94 cm) nor less than 30 inches (76 cm) from the upper surface of the handrail to the surface of the tread, in line with the face of the riser at the forward edge of the tread. When the top edge of a stair rail system also serves as a handrail, the height of the top edge shall be not more than 37 inches (94 cm) nor less than 36 inches (91.5 cm) from the upper surface of the stair rail system to the surface of the tread, in line with the face of the riser at the forward edge of the tread.
3/2/2013 2:51:52 AM
I didn't know that you guys actually level out and measure down with the eight footer.