How to not build deck stairs

One of the best but most frustrating things in the world is being an amateur and knowing your limitations. You really want to build something because you’ve read all about it and have that burning urge to create something, but just know that some things are best left to professionals because they’re, well, professionals.

Even if you can’t build it yourself, you sincerely look forward to seeing the finished product of a professional because you aspire to have their seasoned knowledge creating products that meet all the general requirements of safety and presentation. You also get to see their clever workarounds for problems that existed because location constraints.

Many of us would rather watch This Old House or How It’s Made than most of the garbage entertainment available today.

By the way, stop reading right now if you think How It’s Made should be voiced over by anyone but Brookes Moore. You’re already dead to me.

To me, these people rank as my real heroes: people that actually make the world work and although they do their work in the black & white of rules and regulations, they seem to effortlessly find ways of working through the gray problems that are simply not accounted for in the plans.

Here are some of them:

While I read and watch a lot of other edutainment, I understand that there are many ways to skin a cat (what an odd proverb).

So, we needed to have a new set of exterior stairs built. I am not in charge of this as I live in a co-op and need to rely on other people to wrangle this work. We ended up hiring a local company to do it. This is a real company that’s been around since 1989. They seemed legitimate. Let me just show you what they did in no particular order:

These three pics are the middle newel post. Besides the cuts, did you notice the drywall screws that should never be used in this type of construction?!?

The next two pictures show how this genius attached the stringers. Looks good, right?

Here’s a detail of the tread that was cut to 10″ with a recip saw, but he only had 2×10’s, so that is what he used.

There’s a lot more, of course, but this is enough for now.

I cannot tell you how much it boiled my blood to see this. I could have made this. I would have spent hours upon hours making sure it was right and would meet code. I got that code reference from the first Google result. I’ve read a dozen more – point being that this piece of junk meets just about one requirement: the height of the rail is 36″ high.

This idiot is coming by this weekend to review the work and discuss this dismal and dangerous failure.

I will update then.

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