One of my favorite things to roast building codes about is the ridiculously high drop-offs allowed from decks and porches. No barriers are required on decks and porches until they get over 30 inches above finish grade.
Or how about if I host a rocking party and everyone is dancing their butts off, and someone goes spinning off a 30″ ledge into the roses?
I am not sure what the maximum height above the ground “should” be–but it would certainly be less than 30″ on my planet.
Most likely someone is not going to get killed falling off such a precipice–especially if they are drunk–but there is no question that one could be seriously injured.
I really expected this last code cycle would address this issue and in a sense it did–but barely. The only new requirement is the 30″ maximum is now to be measured 36″ away from the deck or porch–at least giving the person a flat place to head plant on instead of a sloped one.
This may make some decks safer in that it will give me more support for calling for barriers on more decks because so many of them have slopes around them that would not meet the 36″ rule. For example, with this new rule, deck surfaces that are only 18″ off the ground right at the deck, but more than 30 inches above the ground 36″ away, will need a barrier.
Personally I think any deck that has a drop off of more than a regular step-height, there should either be a step (or steps) or a barrier.
Regardless, I still call for barriers on these drop-offs–but when it is new construction–I now have a little more ammunition to support that it is “wrong” as well as “unsafe.”
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email!