# Calculating Stairs Rise and Run

What is Wrong With this Picture?
Stairs, they seem to confound and befuddle just about everyone. In my early years as Sales Manager at Coeur d’Alene Truss, I used to volunteer to go measure houses up to confirm plan dimensions would match up with what was actually being built. Usually yes, but on occasion – not.

One of this area’s best framing crews used to call me to measure trusses just so I could tell them how to cut stairs. Even though they had framed hundreds of houses, math skills to determine stairs were outside of their toolbox. For this reason every third-party engineer sealed set of Hansen Pole Buildings’ structural building plans including stairs has tread rise and run spelled out.

Back on task to this photo.
2018 IBC (International Building Code):
“2304.12.1 Locations requiring waterborne preservatives or naturally durable wood.
Wood used above ground in the locations specified in Sections 2304.12.1.1 through 2304.12.1.5, 2304.12.3 and 2304.12.5 shall be naturally durable wood or preservative-treated wood using waterborne preservatives, in accordance with AWPA U1 for above-ground use.”

This means those portions of stairs in contact with this concrete slab-on-grade must be pressure preservative treated.

Stair stringers per 2018 IBC Table 1607.1 must be designed to support a minimum 40 psf (pounds per square foot) uniformly distributed live load for stairs and exits of one- and two-family dwellings and 100 psf for all other uses.
Let us assume a minimal rise from top of slab to top of next floor of nine feet. With a maximum rise of 7-3/4 inches per tread and minimum run of 10 inches, this would require 13 treads with a horizontal distance of 130 inches (10.83 feet).

Here is how to calculate what it takes to carry residential stair loads:

Moment = (40 psf live load + 10 psf dead load) X 36 inches wide X 10.83 feet^2 / 8 = 26,390 inch-pounds

Learn about Bending Moments here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/09/bending-moment/
With this given rise and run, remaining portion of 2×12 after cutouts is 5-1/8 inch. Using Fb (Fiberstress in bending) for SYP 2×12 #2 of 750 we will solve to determine if what is present is adequate structurally:
26,390 inch-pounds / (750 X 2 X 6.566) = 2.68 where it must be 1.00 or less to adequately carry this load.

But, you might ask, where did these other two variables appear from? Two (2) is because we have two stair stringers to carry loads. 6.566 would be Sm (Section Modulus) of remaining portion of 2x12s after cuts are made to accept treads.
So our photo has stringers 268% overstressed – not good.
This can be resolved by adding another 2×12 stringer at center of stairs and nailing a 2×6 alongside each 2×12 stair stringer.

IBC 1015.2: Guards shall be located along open sided walking surfaces that are located more than 30” measured vertically to the floor or grade below at any point.
This means a guardrail must be on each side of these stairs.

IBC 1015.4: Required guards shall not have openings that allow passage of a sphere 4” in diameter.

Easiest solution here would have been to have vertical supports for hand railing spaced with a maximum distance between of four inches.

A “toe plate” should be incorporated into these stairs at the rear of each tread to fill space between treads and meet with four inch maximum space requirement.

Granted, this requires some math but given the variables, just plug them in and away you go!

# How Lumber is Pressure Preservative Treated

How Lumber is Pressure Preservative Treated

Most people never have an opportunity to tour a pressure preservative treatment plant in operation. I have had this privilege several times and have always found it to be fascinating.

Rather than reinventing things, our friend Bob Vila (https://www.bobvila.com/) and Georgia-Pacific (https://www.buildgp.com/wood/lumber/) have produced this wonderful video for your enjoyment:

Note when watching, 20 bore samples are taken from each retort charge. Of these 16 or more must show adequate levels of treatment chemicals in order for any given treating cycle to be considered properly treated. This does leave some small chance for under treatment.

Here is some reading in regards to how long pressure preservative treated wood should last in ground: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/12/will-poles-rot-off/.

Take time to enjoy the videos!

# How to Obtain a Post Frame Home Mortgage

How to Obtain a Post Frame Home Mortgage

Post frame (pole barn) buildings are becoming more and more popular as homes. Savvy home owners have realized benefits of post frame construction – they can build it themselves, post frame buildings are readily adaptable to a plethora of possible building sites, huge foundation cost savings, energy efficiency, and a veritable endless list of other reasons.

One stumbling block some have encountered – obtaining long term low interest mortgages on their completed pole barn homes.

“Good morning sir, my wife and I have purchased 20 acres and are currently making payments on it. I built a pole barn home on the property. I spent my own money and built it. I am trying to put the house and land into a home mortgage. Do you have any advice or lenders I could talk to. My land is at 9% interest so I’m really trying to get this rolled into a home mortgage ASAP. Hate paying that much on interest. Thank you for your time.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

I happen to live in a post frame (pole building) home myself, so I know of what I speak.

Although I have a friend who works for Wick Buildings who will dispute this, to follow will be how to get best home mortgage rates for your post frame (pole) building home. You can apply with any mortgage lender offering a competitive rate. I’ve used Quicken Loans® (www.QuickenLoans.com) myself (no endorsement intended).

Utterly important will be to remember this mantra – your home has a permanent pressure preservative treated wood and concrete foundation and is a wood framed building with steel (unless your building has something different) siding. You are presenting only absolute truths (unless you neglected to have concrete below or around your building’s columns) – I would never encourage anyone to fib, however success comes from proper presentation.

Make sure your appraiser uses identical terminology. Sadly, under no circumstance use any of these terms to describe your home – pole barn, pole building or post frame building. Any of these will merely muddle things and result in a less than satisfactory outcome.

# Cordwood Masonry Appears to be a Contradiction in Terms

“When Paul Johnson first heard of the construction method from a friend it became a curiosity.

He was curious enough, in fact, to turn it into a handyman project that, despite the challenges, brought a sense of accomplishment.

Cordwood construction consists of placing “log ends” into a wall within a mix of mortar. The method has been used on both sides of the Atlantic for hundreds of years.

Johnson, a Grand Falls-resident, studied a little on the subject and decided to try his hand at it his “home away from home” in Rattling Brook, Green Bay.

“You can only use softwood so I cut some and thought, well, if I didn’t want to do it I can burn the wood anyway,” he told TC Media.

With admittedly more vigour than knowledge, he set about the task, which included the sinking of posts below the frost line to support to the pole barn structure he envisioned. That design called for seven holes.

Anyone who has worked the ground in Newfoundland knows that, in many areas, digging postholes can be a challenge as rocks abound.

Such is the case in in Rattling Brook and before long he realized how labour intensive the task ahead was going to be.

And that was before he and his construction partner and spouse, Josephine, actually began the wall construction and learned just how long the job would take.

“(A neighbour) stopped by one day when I was just at the pole barn structure and said, ‘You know Paul, if you had a few sheets of 3/8 plywood you’d be done by now.’”

“I said, ‘That’s right, but this is what we’d kind of like to do.’”

There isn’t an ounce of regret over the physical toiling.

In fact, he’s glad the project got his attention because it ended up “filling a gap” for him while he was unable to work due to a medical issue.

He does wish he’d realized what others had.

“Most people start with a kennel, or at least something small,” he joked.

With his wife’s artistic eye adding to the flare and presentation, the couple worked some bottles into the design for effect and plugged away for five months to complete the project.

While his wife brought the artistic flare, Johnson did have a design vision that came to life.

He wanted to incorporate some rustic looking barn wood and found the right touch – in an old building on the Jigg’s Farm property near Botwood.

With permission, he gathered some of the board and worked it into the construction.

Undaunted (but a lot wiser in the ways of cordwood construction) Johnson is even considering another project.

One distinct possibility is a gazebo to act as an art studio for his wife.

It’s fitting that he’d want to put that effort into something for his spouse since the Rattling Brook property was an anniversary gift of hers to him.

After coming to Canada from England in 1967, Johnson had bounced around the country between Ontario and Nova Scotia and Alberta and, of course, Newfoundland.

“I said I’d come for one year and if I didn’t like it, I’m out of here,” he joked.

In fact, he did leave again but decided to come back in 1996 and settled in central Newfoundland.

“I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” he says of his adopted province.

“And it’s been home ever since.”

Cordwood shed and all.”

Although artistically impressive, in my humble opinion, most Building Departments would have a difficult time buying into this as a design solution, unless the cordwood used was a specie of wood which was natural decay resistant, or was pressure preservative treated. In the event you desire to attempt this at home, be sure to have your engineer design the wall columns to limit deflection, else there could be some issues at the column to fill interface which could lead to less than a happy end resultant.