I have made multiple posts on my troubles with building a deck and
conflicts with my contractor. Well the story is not done, but here are
the current stats:
Deck size 270 sq. feet
Materials/supplies cost to date: 14,000
Deck material: Ipe decking and structural support. All stainless steel
Labor costs to date: 9,000
Current job status: On hold
I told my contractor to demo his stair construction when it became
apparent that you would hit your head on the way up against the eve of
the house. I also became very upset because I was unaware that a
permit was required, and no permit had been obtained. The city was
called, and I have had an engineer to come out and look at things and
do windstorm certification. Fortunately, he basically says that he is
O.K. with the current construction. He advised a designer come out and
look at how the stairs could be constructed. Getting an engineer is
the first step in getting a permit, so I do not know if the city will
charge me a penalty or not.
Bottom line is that it appears I will need to remove the eve of my roof
over the stairs to allow head clearance. I do not know how much this
will cost, but I would not be surpised that after all is said and done,
this deck will approach $100 a square foot.
The lesson here for everyone to learn, is contact your building inspector
before any project and discuss it with them. They can tell you ahead of
time what will be needed, or not needed and how you can go about doing it.
Get on friendly terms with them and you can save lots of effort, time, and
I agree that someone contemplating a construction project should
contact the building department to secure forms, get an idea of how
long the permitting process will take and find out what inspections
will be required. A building inspector is not an architect, engineer
or designer and should not be expected to be a source of free design.
A question here or there might be tolerated (my local inspector _hates_
talking to homeowners), but most inspectors will tell you to hire a
pro. There will be drawings and calculations required for the building
permit anyway, so there's no use in putting off hiring someone.
I find it a little hard to believe that no one mentioned at any time to
the OP that a permit might be required. A friend, neighbor, bidding
contractor, neighbor, somebody. It smacks of wishful thinking on the
OP's part. No permit, no permit fee and no increase in taxes. I
commiserate with the OP. This is an expensive lesson to learn, and one
that could have been avoided. It's much easier to make changes on
paper, or on your expectations and budget, than to make changes in the
field while construction is going on.
I have a few questions:
1. If there were stairs there before and you did not hit your head on the
eave, then why cant you duplicate that construction with this new material?
Why do you need a landing?
2. Why can't the stairs be moved away from the eave so that the handrail is
under the far edge of the eave?
3. Why can't the stairs be built on an angle so that you are moving away
from the eave. Then, once you have clearance, turn the angle to parallel
I bought the home, so it was existing construction so there was never an issue
with it. It also was narrower (not meeting code), at a steeper angle, and still
a person would hit their head if they walked on the side toward the house.
The stairs cannot be moved away from the eve because there is a pool
fence between the house and the pool. There is only adequate
clearance between the fence and the pool to allow passage, so I cannot
move the fence (allowing moving the stairs away from the eve) anymore
toward the pool.
To answer the last question; again, placement of the stairs is limited
by the placement of the pool, and the house.
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