Q: I’m building a house with a loft accessed by a code-approved stair. The client also wants a ship’s ladder to the loft for the kids. Does code allow unorthodox stairs if a legal one is in place to access the same area?

A: Glenn Mathewson, a building official in Westminster, Colo., replies: Unorthodox stair designs, such as ship’s ladder stairs, aren’t specifically addressed by the IRC. So acceptance would be up to the individual authority—and some authorities may trump any kind of justification with a simple “not in my town” response. But let’s see how I might...

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