OH clearance at top of stairs

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Stairs go up to a gallery/loft, and where they end at top, with 44-1/2" width, the wall adjacent the woman figure is 6'1" at the wall, and the OH is 7'0" at the middle of the stair run.  What does code say about this?


This isn't gonna get built where they will say anything about it, but I want to know how a well-versed plans reviewer or inspector would treat it.

2021-05-08 19_32_47-Chief Architect Premier X12.png

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We have additional requirements if the stairwell is considered a Fire Escape which looks like it would apply in your situation if you were in my area.  Which kind of makes sense as that would be the absolute worst time to hit your head and also the most likely when you are in a hurry.


"Stairway headroom shall be not less than 1 950 mm  ( 76.75" )
plus the height of one riser measured vertically above the
nosing of any tread or platform."

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23 hours ago, Alaskan_Son said:

Per the IRC (and most all the derivative codes), the clear headroom must be 6'-8" "....in all parts of the stairway".  Does not meet code in my opinion. 

I agree with this, but there is room for interpretation on the landings. 

As a plans examiner, I am looking for "minimums" since that is what the code is, (the minimum you can get away with under the law).  As a designer I can, and do, ask for more. :-)

With this in mind, I look at what minimum landing requirements are  (usually 36" in the direction of travel and no less than the with of the stair provided, but it may be more in some cases)  

This makes sense if you have a 6' deep landing with a sloped ceiling.  Do I have to maintain 6'-8" clear to the back of the 6'?  What if there was a desk, bench or furniture placed there and I still have a legal landing even with furniture of built-ins there?

The way I interpret the code is that you must maintain the 6'-8" clearance in the "walkable" area of the stair and out from the nosing of the stair (in the direction of travel) to the required landing depth.

If my headroom area issue is in the stair itself, then I may (if possible) narrow the width of the stair so that all of the walkable area meets the required width and height.  This may create a "shelf" along the stair to keep you out of the low headroom portion of the stair.

The last issue is the headroom as you leave the landing and enter a room or hall.  The minimum headroom may be increased and you have to look for beams, ducts etc that may encroach into that space.  I like to add a dashed "clear floor" line to my plans just to make sure I have reviewed those problem areas.

In my opinion, the design would not meet code, would feel uncomfortable, and more importantly, may be unsafe.


In the end, the building official is the final authority in each jurisdiction.


Attached is on of my standard "draft" details.

Stair detail.jpg

Edited by WesternDesign
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