Exterior stairs

Are stairways at the exterior of a home included in the IRC? For example, a set of stairs leading from the street to the home.


Generally speaking, yes.

The only stairs the IRC is concerned with are those that are part of the “Means of Egress” from the structure under R311.

These stairs that are part of the means of egress are only required to get people safely out of the structure and are not concerned with how they get to other locations on the lot or to the street.

Simply put, once you have “egressed” the structure, the IRC Code ceases to have any jurisdication.

Thanks for the reply. Thats my take also. I found some municiple ordinances on Google that define landscape stairs and exclude them from IRC requirements.

I am sure we have all seen some scary landscape stairs.



You mean like this.

Okay so this isn’t interactive architecture but I love this piece of work made by Andrew Lipsom, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

I prefer this set of stairsby Escher:


I guess continuous uninterrupted handrail is out of the question, right.

Marcel :slight_smile: :wink:

Those steps do matter and if the buyer is going FHA they really do matter.

The answer to your question is yes. The IRC covers stairs from R311.5- R311.5.8.2

That is true Greg, but what governs exterior landscape stairs that might be used by the public in some cases? And what would be the requirements of code design?:slight_smile:



If you are talking about the concrete walk-ups that are irregular/inconsistant rise and run; ever muni I have called about this and the requirement for consistency and handrails has shot me down.

I report every one to clients and go on to the next one.


Barry, it appears no one can answer what Code or standard applies to stairs unrelated to, and unattached to the house that is controlled by the IRC.

Should common sense then become part of the picture, or should we just write it up as we see it and move on?

Unfortunately, I am not one to leave it alone and it would bother me to not get to the bottom of the resolution and interpretation of the right performance Code.

So what should we do in this instance and what should we advise new Home Inspectors?

Follow the SOP and move on.

Marcel :slight_smile:

Weather the stairs are used or not the code is a hand rail from exit point to the landing area they also must have no less then 11 1/2 in treads and no less then 9 in risers. As I do,weather used or not they are put in my report and there condition.

:shock: :shock: :shock:

Don’t you mean no more than 9" risers? I’ve yet to see a municipality that allows a rise of more than 9".

Good Pick up Kenneth;

The IRC requires 7 3/4" riser height and 10" tread depth, R311.5.3.1 and R311.5.3.2, but have also heard some Jurisdictions allow up to 8 1/4", but never up to 9".

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

I agree NO MORE than 7 3/4" riser height and MINIMUM of 10" tread depth.

Except in Pennsylvania where the legal standard is 8 1/4" riser height and 9" tread depth…

I report what I deem as deficient and stress the point during onsite verbal summary. They have my opinion in writing and that is what I was given from my elders and have to pass on to the up and comers.

I just asked this question on the ICC Message Board. I will let you know what they say.


Please send PM once you get a reply just in case my “oldtimers” kicks in and I can’t find my way back to this thread. :mrgreen: