Stairway head room clearance

Inspection today had basement stairs that came to a landing on ground floor, landing has rooms on both sides. Back side room has 12" step to floor off landing. Both sides have 6’ of clear headroom to knock your head on when stepping off the landing. Around here, typically 6’8" is minimum. Ceilings are 7’. Do I call out a code or remark “typical” conditions?


I do not think that I would call it typical condition, because it is not and believe that noting what you have seen would be in order in your report.
To the affect that it is not the standard of building standards and also it kind of runs away from the code requirements of a riser height of 7 3/4" and 10" tread and the 6’ 8" head room requirements.
Note what you see and let the Client decide what they want to do with the issue.

Hope this helps.

You say it’s a basement. Is it a finished living space, heated and all that? If it’s just a 'crete floor basement, I’d mention the safety hazard and call it done. If it’s finished as a bedroom (don’t forget heat, egress, and closet) then you’d have to check you local code, but still would just note it. We’re not codeies.

Basement is in process of being “finished”. Seller has framed walls, some drywall up, heat would only come from radiation from mechanical room, no closets, would not consider finished space suitable for bedrooms. Seller is selling house with trim, window trim and “finished” basement unfinished. Oh also, the windows were installed over the outside finish texture sheets and then trimmed over.:shock:

I would write it up as less than standard clearance and let the buyer decide.
If they are “little people” or it’s former secretary Robert Reich(4-8") they wouldn’t care.

Could you see any flashing outside under the trim but over the window fringe?. Either way, the ceiling hight issue is just that. An issue. Can’t change it now. Is it right? no. Will it work, yeah if your a short frenchman like me. I can even do jumping jacks in a 6’ room. But hay, wasn’t David Robinson of the NBA stationed on a sub in the navy?? they have ceilings that are only 5’9" or so.

Hi Jay,

No flashing, even if there were, it could only be between the window nailing flange and the trim. The windows are in the middle of a full 4’x8’ sheet. They did use caulk, does that count?

Yeah… calking is like a tail light warentee outside. how hard would have been to do the job right?? not nearly as hard as it’s going to be for the next guy to fix in next year. I never seem to have enough time to do a job twice, so i’m forced to do it right the first time. I hate that.:roll:

What Marcel said works for me.

Before I render an opinion, how old is the house? Does it predate current construction practice/code?

House is 3 years old.

Okay thanks, so you have a situation on your hands that do not meet code requirements. The question then that must be asked; how did this pass given that an occupancy permit was likely granted?

Not necessarily Ray, we have many towns in this area that do not have building officials. The structure just goes up and somebody moves in. Kinda nice huh?:shock: If the town doesn’t have an official, does that mean there wouldn’t be any defects?:expressionless:

pick one:

  1. lack of liabilty for the goverment employee
  2. lack of training
  3. lack of time
  4. human error
  5. complacency
  6. short inspector
  7. left tape measure in truck

They admit around here that they only have time to look for problems that “jump out at them”

" The basement has sub-standard aspects that could imply that the work was done without a permit. Some of the conditions observed include low head clearance in the stairway, stair risers that do not conform to modern building practices and no source of heating or cooling in the rooms, I recommend that you check with the county building department to determine if permits were issued, signed off on and a certificate of occupancy was issued." I also recommend that you consult with a licensed contractor with a view of having these conditions corrected because the costs of these corrections could effect your overall evaluation of the property."

Well up here we have buidling inspectors and permits must be taken out. However I have come across numerous occassions where the building inspectors have ignored or missed concerns. These inspectors are beholden to the public to ensure safety and proper construction. Any evidence suggesting they have been negligent in their duties will result in a lawsuit and be assured the building department will be found to be at fault by the courts in most cases.

#1 - You’re not the local code inspector;

#2 - You’re not doing a code inspection;

#3 - Forget age. If it was 85 yrs old and a cellar type basement with 5’6" ceilings would you write it as a defect to be repaired (how - raise the house) or simply note its lower than typically seen and can be a safety hazard, or due to age not mention it at all;

#4 - Say it doesn’t meet code - then find out you don’t have local code;

#5 - In my opinion, the most accurate way to report it is to describe it; tell them the headroom and riser height and anything else to do with it does not meet current building standards, and that some of this has potential to be a safety hazard or effect the future value - then recommend further evaluation by a cometent contractor, if this is a concern to them.

This scenario kind of brings back memories of when I was a young pup and working with my Father. We did have at that time, people that actually called themselves Builders and honestly did not have a clue.
You ask yourself why, some people working in the Building Industry, strongly believe that after four or six years, they know everything that pertains to Building of homes and actually some homeowners believe the same. It all pertains to money in one manner or the other. Some people believe that if they can get away with something and make money at it, next time they will actually try harder to make more. The consensus to most is that, well, I can make all this money instead of him (Employer).

Many Jurisdictions have no Code Compliance Officers and that would be a good Territory for People with these kind of work ethics.

Since Human Nature will always produce people to construct deficient methods and products at the value of making money, we at NACHI, I guess are guaranteed a job for a long time.

It is through the Professionalism of the NACHI Members and their Experience and Team Work that we will all succumb the inadequacies that position innocent Consumers buying a house.

Then and only then, will Builders out there find out that the inadequate Products they are supplying to the Consumer will eventually catch up to them and they will be forced to either educate themselves better on what they are trying to accomplish or provide work accomplishments that are acceptable to the Industry and the Consumer.

One could say the the World is full of the Good, Bad, and the Ugly.
There is a lot of truth to that statement.
The World, obviously, have more Good than the prodeeding, and that is because it prevails.
The Bad are the ones that try to make a Dollar at someone else’s expense.
The Ugly are the one’s that would not care less what happens to everyone else as long as they come ahead and fill their pockets.

There is an old saying that “if it were easy, everyone would do it”.
In some Peoples eyes, they think it is and they attempt it at the sacrifice of somebody elses money. They actually charge top dollar for their learning curve and experience they do not have.

Human Nature. When it comes to Building, we might not be able to change the attitudes, but we sure as hell as a team make it a little harder for them.

I guess I have :mrgreen: long enough on this subject. Thanks for reading.

What Dan said! x2

If it is not new construction, who is going to pay for this?
A home owner five times removed?

Just note it, and move on.