The stair building code was created for building safety. Before the building code and local city enforcement (Building Inspectors), anyone could build a house. This meant Uncle Earl who had just watched a couple of his friends build a house down the street construct some sort of a dwelling. The next step for Earl would be to help these guys for a day and now he is a professional home builder. You get the point.
Stair Building Codes create the safety needed for one of the most hazardous areas of your home. You might know someone who has fallen down a stairway?
I lived in a house I built for 15 years and I redesigned the stairs from a winder design to a T shaped set of stairs. Both sets of stairs were built using the local stair building code for my city.
Wow I could not believe how many times my family members fell down the stairs. I even fell down once. I was amazed. When I switched from the winder to the T shaped stairway there were less accidents. My point is that even using the stair building codes this is a dangerous part of your house.
Having a professional stair builder install your stairs is great advice. Take it. For example this happened to me on quite a few jobs. I get a set of plans from a architect who has been designing houses for over 40 years. I looked at the stairway to find out that he has designed a stairway that is too small for the length of this part of the home. If I build the stairs using the plans that by the way were approved from the local building department, I could have a problem.
You are probably asking yourself how does this happen. Aren't these people experienced professionals. Of course they are. They probably have the U.B.C. (Uniform Building Code) in their office somewhere. Everyone makes mistakes here and there but this is one area of the home where safety is a big concern.
Just look at it like this. The stair building code was designed to improve the safety and reduce the number of accidents while using the stairs. Over the years I have seen stairs poorly designed and constructed. These stairs create problems for the owners of the buildings not just the people that use them. Did I mention lawsuits. This is one area where a lawyer will have a field day.
As a building professional I advise you to use the stair building code first for safety and second to avoid lawsuits. Get an idea from some of the pictures I have taken over the years on problems with stair building.
Use common sense while building or remodeling your home. It goes a long way.
Greg Vandenberge is working on the internet to promote the education for creating simple to follow guides and home building books to help professional building contractors as well as the weekend warriors. He is currently working on more building stairs books and adding useful content to help solve problems created by the lack of construction knowledge in the building industry. Stair Building Articles