I recently did an inspection on a deck that was built less than 30 inches above grade that had a guardrail installed. This guardrail had spindle spacing of more than 4 inches so I made a general recommendation about spindle spacing. About a week later I received a call from the local building department and I was chastised about mentioning the spindle spacing since the deck was below 30 inches from grade (I don’t know why they got involved…I only made a mere suggestion and didn’t tell anyone that they had ti do anything). I was told by the code enforcement inspector that since the deck was below 30 inches they could build the railing any way they wanted.
I was always under the notion that if the deck was under 30 inches there was no requirement for a guardrail, but if someone elected to install a guardrail anyway it must be build to code (kids could get their head stuck between the spindles no matter how high above grade the deck is). Any insight on this issue? Any reference to code?