A wonderful post from our friend in Tn. on Decks and what you should know when you are getting ready to sell.
Inspecting Deck Steps...
For the safety of personnel, deck steps should conform to more recent local municipal standards. Some do. However, most do not. There are several reasons for this. Many steps and handrails were built to older standards that may have been acceptable when the property was built. A classic example of this is the handrail on this set of steps.
Some years ago, the wide top plate and spindle spacing on this set of steps was acceptable in most building jurisdictions. Today, the handrail has to be approximately 34-36" in height and has to be constructed in a manner so that it can be easily grasped. Additionally, the spindle spacing cannot exceed 4" for child safety purposes.
The height an depth (rise/run) is also important. Although this may vary by municipality, the general rule of thumb for risers is approximately 7-3/4" in height. This dimension is not to vary more than 1/4". The average tread depth should be approximately 11-12" depending upon municipality.
Depending upon where you live, some municipalities require the sellers to bring steps up to more modern standards. My area of Tennessee does not. However; this does need to be brought to the attention of the buyer and must be in the report. The steps pictured most likely were added after the fact by the home owner as they do not conform to any building standard. The seller will need to address this item if the buyer requests it in their repair contingency.