How to Look

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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

    Here’s how the International Residential Code (IRC) and Florida Building Code (FBC - R311.7.5.3) defines the requirement:

  1. A nosing not less than 3/4 inch (19 mm) but not more than 1-1/4 inches (32 mm) shall be provided on stairways with solid risers. The greatest nosing projection shall not exceed the smallest nosing projection by more than 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) between two stories, including the nosing at the level of floors and landings. Beveling of nosings shall not exceed 1/2 inch (12.7 mm).

  2. Exception: A nosing is not required where the tread depth is a minimum of 11 inches (279 mm).

So, since the minimum tread size is 10”, a nosing will extend the tread depth to between 10-3/4” and 11-1/4”. However, extending the nosing too far, which was sometimes done on excessively steep stairs of old houses, creates a protrusion that is a trip hazard when ascending or descending the stairs. The stairs in the photo below had a 2-1/2” nosing and were truly awkward to use.




   A senior homebuyer changed his mind about purchasing the house after walking up and down these stairs several times. We inspected the house again for a younger couple that decided they could tolerate it. But you also have to consider that, while you may become accustomed to climbing poorly designed stairs like this on a daily basis, a houseguest encountering them for the first time in your home may not be so lucky.


While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection