Code for requirment of handrails

I need section ref in IBC 2003 that explains the need for handrails to stairs in excess of certain height. I am having a big brain cramp and can’t find it.

All help would be great.


IRC R311.5.6 Handrails
Handrails shall be provided on at least one side of each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers.

A good illustration of the code requirements: click here

Whenever I cite a handrail, guardrail, etc. issue, I give them a link to this document on my website.

Very handy information to have readily available Joe. Thanks!

I need specifics on steps leading up to a concrete porch. What is the number of steps or height that requires them to have handrails? Steps and porch.

4 or more risers requires a handrail.

[FONT=Arial][size=3]R311.5.6 Handrails.[/size][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][size=3]Handrails shall be provided on at least one side of each continuous run of treads or flight with four or more risers.[/size][/FONT]

In snow and ice country safety is the concern in my recommendations, however.

1009.10 Handrails. Stairways shall have handrails on each side and shall comply with
Section 1012. Where glass is used to provide the handrail, the handrail shall also comply
with Section 2407.

More here;

IBC on Handrails and risers


I run into many stairways with less than 6’8" headroom clearance (BTW: I am 6’ 8". If I hit my head, it ain’t up to code).

But, I would have to put this in 80% of my old house inspections, especially with basement stairways.

Do you actually call this out, knowing that nothing will be done and the client may freak out, it being a code issue?

My thought exactly. I would ***recommend ***for safety reasons that a handrail should be installed or the oh so common issue with balusters… But for height on a landing or stairwell itself, I would not.

My question, specifically, was addressed to the 6’ 8" height reauirement for headroom.

Might as well call out the illegal Unit while you are down there.LOL

Everything depends on the local area and what is common practice.
I often explain things will be in the report (CYA) …buuuut.

Without measuring, Will would be the only one to notice. :wink:
I never measure it unless it is a new build.
Plus like Will said, they would not do anything about it anyways.

I would only note it if lower than 6’4 or less. On the average, 6’ seems to be the norm. Will, Hope you stopped growing. :mrgreen:

Most folks wrongly apply section 311 of the I.B.C. to basement stairs. 311 governs means of egress while basement stairs are required to comply with section 310, and 311.5.8.2 of the I.B.C. which exempts basement stairs from the head room requirement, landings, stair tread depth, riser height, etc. Providing that the basement floor is not more than 8 feet below adjacent grade and that the stair is not one of the buildings required egress openings. So basically unless the home does not have any exterior doors and the basement is not more than 8 feet deep no need to report

To clarify my earlier post the code articles cited are from the International Residential Code and not the I.B.C.

note that the home is older than 1996 when the codes became enforced. anything older would not be governed.