Front porch height to require a railing?

sarahandbrayAugust 21, 2012

We are restoring a front porch on our old Victorian. Would love to recreate the original railing (as seen in this old pic), but not sure if insurance will let us put up such a short railing. I don't really want the new, tall, and plain railings on this porch.

If I can't do the fancy, short spindles, I was thinking maybe it would look OK without a railing at all. It's not far to the ground--maybe 30" or so. I was thinking I could build up our flower beds and there would be less distance from deck to the ground.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Sarah from Albany

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I believe code to be anything 18" or above off the ground requires a railing and I do believe railings need to be 36" in height (to the top of the railing).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Fori is not pleased

Does it have a railing now? If you could just "maintain" the existing railing to make it look like that one, perhaps you would be grandfathered in...

I'm not sure that that railing style would be bad at 36" though. But I'm sure you can come up with a variation on it that would do justice to the house.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 5:39PM
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OK, so I thought I might be able to be grandfathered in because the far right section shown in the picture is still in situ. So if I "repair" the railing, can I leave it? Everything to the left of the stairs is gone though...

Just measured the railing--it's 25" at the top rail. I really like it that height because it gives such a nice view of the street when you're sitting down.

The contractor we are using is just a friend of the family...I wonder if we can just do it that height and keep our fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 6:29PM
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Fori is not pleased

I have no idea what the legal ramifications for dodging code are and of course you should be good and stuff.

I would restore the railing. It's really cute. If you don't get a permit, there's no inspection, right? Well, I don't know that. Probably depends on where you live and what other things are going on in your restoration. If I had to have an inspection, I'd probably tack a railing between the posts at the proper height and remove it later. It would be naughty and dishonest and all that and of course one oughtn't defy safety codes etc etc.

Ask your contractor if you think you'd get caught. :) It's not like anyone will get hurt if they fall off. I don't believe in skimping safety on pool fences, but this just isn't deadly.

(I'm actually about to remove the railing for a much smaller porch that nobody ever sees when I redo my front yard but in my case nobody's going to notice.)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 7:38PM
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Thanks, fori!
I'm not one of those law-dodging people when it comes to taxes/laws, etc., but I really think I should be ok in replacing what is there since it's still partially in tact and original to the house, right? (me convincing myself!)
No permit necessary for this project, I don't think.
I'm going to try to locate someone who can make the spindles--hoping I don't break the bank on that one!!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 7:43PM
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Fori is not pleased

A victimless crime--plant something soft down there. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out! :P

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 7:53PM
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Getting a quote from some contacts at a Curtis Lumber in Ballston Spa. Hoping this doesn't cost a FORTUNE!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Fori is not pleased

Did you check the basement? :P

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 8:31PM
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