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Decks/Egress for Decks ?

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Question
Here's a stumper for you;
Does a deck require a means of egress or can it be enclosed on three sides (enclosed on four sides counting the house wall except of course being able to access the deck from the door leading out of the house on to the deck)?
I have looked online and I own a copy of the IBC and IRC books and can not find a definitive answer anywhere. I have several decks I'm quoting for a multi-family property where the existing decks have stairs but for several reasons it doesn't make sense to replace the stairs when the deck is rebuilt. My thinking is for the residents that have patios on third and fourth floors their only means of egress in case of an emergency is through the entry door into the apartment. So the residents on the first floor, in this case, do not need a means of egress that the others do not have. If you can tell me where to find this code or something I can use to prove my thought on this it would be helpful. Thank you in advance for your assistance and taking time to respond to my question.
Brian

Answer
Brian,

I agree with your logic that second or third floor decks and balconies often don't have stairs and therefore ground level decks don't require them either. Also,I have built numerous decks over the years that did not have stairs with no issue from the inspections dept.  

I am not aware of a specific code that deals with this issue however, when you submit a drawing or sketch of the deck to procure the building permit, the inspections dept. will mark up the drawing to include steps if it is a code requirement. If you require a definitive answer before a permit is sought you might try calling or visiting the building inspector.  They usually respond well to a politely phrased question, and a gentle reminder that they are public servants will often soften the tone of the occasional inspector that may be a bit testy.

I sometimes include a clause in my proposals or contracts that indicate some modification of the terms may be necessary to comply with building codes.

I hope I have been of some help in this matter.

Best regards,

Tony Wood

Decks

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Tony Wood

Expertise

I can answer questions pertaining to deck design and construction and offer insight into the pros and cons of various designs and materials options.

Experience

I am a life time resident of North Carolina with over 30 years experience in multiple facets of the industrial, commercial and residential construction industry. For the past 23 years I have owned and operated Wood's Home Maintenance Service, providing services primarily in Johnston, Wake and Sampson Counties of North Carolina.

Organizations
NFIB

Publications
Several Home improvement articles published on Angie's List and other online forums.

Education/Credentials
High School graduate ~ proficient in CAD (computer aided design), Open Office program suite.

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