This is the Back To A New Condo TownHouse on 14th Street

IMG_6469, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Why are these steps wood? Is it for aesthetics or is it just cheaper? Won’t you have to replace the wood every 5-10 years? I just can’t quite figure out why they used wood here. Does it even match the house? Thoughts?

12 Comment

  • This looks like one of those death traps you see all over Chicago. You know, the kind that like to collapse when you put too many people on it during a party. I’m not a fan, but then, I won’t be living there either.

  • Huh, as a Chicagoan, I was thinking those look like Chicago decks. They are safe if they are maintained, and take me back. I’ve only known too cities that have had decks collapse because of parties — San Francisco and Chicago and only one in each. Chicago decks are to be inspected frequently. And are required because Chicago has some of the strictest fire escape laws in the country. You aren’t allowed to just have one exit. And frankly, it’s hotter than heck in Chicago — nothing like sitting (or sleeping) out on the porch in the summer time.

    SF has wood decks because of earthquakes. The whole city is made of wood. Seriously, it looks like a movie set.

  • you wouldn’t have to replace them that often… but it does remind me a bit of going to an amusement park.

  • looks like the beach

  • wouldn’t really work as a fire escape – wooden fire escape??

  • Damn. That’s a lot of structure for not much deck space. And wood is NOT cheap. It ought to last 15 or 20 years if it’s taken care of (e.g. treated every year or two) but it’s just not that functional – half the space is stairs, and the only usable part is right next to the house whereas you’d rather be able to hang out at the outer edge where there’s a view.

    It must be for fire escape reasons, but a pull-down ladder attached to the side would have been far simpler, more secure, and then they could have just built a simple three-level deck with no stairs. And probably cheaper.

  • The very first thing I thought of when I saw that pic was the Chicago collapse where Shea Fitzgerald, an offensive tackle for Northern Illinois died, along with others.

    Still, I think it looks pretty cool and like that Chicago touch. Safety first, though.

  • It looks terrible.

  • The house next door to mine has done exactly this, and I think it looks terrible. No more talking over the fence to the neighbor, I guess — the whole backyard is dedicated to the stairs. I suppose they do it for two reasons, both related to multi-unit condo conversions: (1) fire code probably requires both a front and rear egress and (2) it allows them to sell each unit as having a “rear balcony” or some such. I can’t imagine anyone doing this to a rowhome that was being kept as a single-family home.

    BTW, I hadn’t even thought of the safety implications, but my college roommate spent a week in the hospital after the Chicago collapse a few years ago. His wounds were pretty horrific.

  • that is a fire trap. that is why historic neighborhood designations are made

  • those are there so you can sell each level as an individual condo, which are required to have two exits per the fire code. wood is much cheaper than any alternative. yet another reason why these “slice the rowhouse into condos” conversions are such a nightmare.

  • It’s crazy that everyone who has spent time in Chicago all immediately think of those alley decks on the North Side. LOL! I totally thought the same thing before I even read the comments.

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