Robert Lamoureux: Stairway handrail must be replaced

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]
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Question No. 1
Robert,

We have a home where you enter through the garage going up a flight of stairs, where there is a handrail on the right. We had a home inspection and I am unable, on my own, to confirm if the inspector is correct in telling me that I am not in compliance with this handrail.

He says that it needs to be 4 inches from the wall, which I agree with. As you ascend and get to the top, a piece of the flooring juts out and there is a break in the handrail of about 1 inch. If you let go of the one and grab the other, all is well. I’ve priced the moving of the handrail from the right side to the left, and with drywall repairs included, it is about $1,400.

I have a two-part question: One, is this a fair price? And, two, is this accurate information? Do I need to move this handrail to become compliant with the laws? I don’t want to be taken advantage of, so need your input, please.
— John K.

Answer No. 1
John,
Unfortunately, you will need to move forward with redoing this handrail to become compliant. This is a two-part fix. The distance of 4 inches is correct, it must be that far from the wall, per code. Also, there cannot be an interruption in the grasp on the handrail. If you must let go and reach again, it is a safety hazard and is considered non-compliant with code.

Regarding the pricing, this is extremely fair. Most of your cost will be due to labor and, of course, some materials. Without pictures, I’m surmising that they will be patching several mounting holes in the drywall, as well as painting of the entire wall, as in most cases, for a perfect match.

Mounting of the second handrail may be additional labor, due to the current configuration of the handrail and the location of the studs in the wall that they’ll need to mount to.

The pricing is very fair for all of that. I would move forward and get this done. Good luck to you.
— Robert

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