Code compliance requirements

Hello all, I’m looking at builiding a free standing grade level deck with less than 200 square feet and a max deck height of 16”. If I read the IRC 2015 correctly, I don’t need a permit. (Correct me if I’m wrong there). It will serve our back door which is currently blocked off because its opening is 42” above grade. My question is this, because I don’t need a permit, do I still have to follow all code requirements? I.e. stair handrail, 36” landing, beam/joist spans? I plan on building it with 2x8 PT joists- 12” OC, and 1x6 Ipe. Overall dimensions are 10’8-1/2” by 17’11” (so I don’t have to rip any boards). The reason I ask these questions is because that 36” landing eats up a lot of real estate for 6’ French doors (36 square feet including steps). Ones side butts up the the concrete basement steps with the black wrought iron handrail (ugly, but cast into the concrete) . Also, I want the top of the deck as low as possible, and the bottom of the deck as high as possible for air flow. To do that I’d be spanning those 2x8s 10’2-1/2” and I was only planning on putting 4 posts on 6’ centers and using a double 2x8 flush beam. Aside from my overuse of parentheses, do y’all see any issues with my plan? I don’t mind beefing it up or adding to it, but I don’t want to do unnecessary work for both cost and labor.

Whether or not a Deck Permit is required or not, a deck has to be built to industry standards that are typically in line with current Codes and Safety Standards.
My advice for you would be to hire a Qualified Licensed Contractor to build your Deck so as it is built safe for all the occupants that may be using it.

I agree with Marcel’s comments. Also, the IRC is a model code, not a statutory building code. Whether you need a permit and the specific code requirements for your project will be determined by your local building and permitting department and / or state requirements. You will need to contact them.

The contractor wanted about 4x the cost of materials for a simple pine deck. I can and will go talk to the local inspectors, but with it being Saturday, the office is closed and they were closed yesterday for weather, so I haven’t had a chance yet. I am planning on doing this myself barring any debilitating injuries between now and then. I was hoping to get some input for my own planning purposes since that’s a core requirement for the permit. I suppose I’ll just have to ask them some time next week. Thanks for the recommendations though.

Check on your local requirements for permits and inspections. If you take your rough idea to one of the big box stores, they have software and can produce a set of plans with proper structural support and material list to do it yourself.

Thanks Chuck. I do believe you guys are missing the intent of the question. My plans, as they are, exceed code requirements for structural integrity and even manufacturer requirements in every way imaginable. Where 2x6s are required, I’m using 2x8. Where 16” joist spacing is required, I’m using 12”. Where a 4x4 post is sufficient, I’m using 6x6. Where no footer is required, I’m going below frost depth and going bigger than required using 18” x 24” solid concrete. I can assure you that neither you, nor Marcel, are more concerned about the safety of my family members than I am. Structural integrity is not an issue and I don’t need a set of deck plans from a big box store. If I were the cowboy that wants to pave my own way the way I think you guys perceive me to be, then don’t you think I’d have built the deck however I wanted to without consulting experts? I guess my question got lost in providing what I deemed to be supporting details in my original post. The question, specifically, was: am I still bound to the 36” landing at an exterior door if a permit is not required and no inspector will be at my house to verify it? I have, however, given up on getting that answer and I will just have to take some time off from work to drive down the inspectors office and ask them face to face. I appreciate you guys’ time.

That question was clearly answered in both Marcel’s and my first post. You must get the answer from the Authority Having Jurisdiction. Anything that anyone else might say on the matter is mere opinion and holds absolutely no weight.

You know who’s opinion does hold weight? Your local building and permitting department.

BTW: This is not a do it yourself forum. If you have all of the answers, then, by all means, go forth and conquer.