• As far as I'm aware, you should always defer to the correct answer, per code.

• It is ALWAYS the code (IBC, ADA, etc.) minimum when the question is asking for the minimum - unless the program requires a larger value.

• (Edited )

So let's say you are calculating an egress stair's width and it comes out to 23".  Obviously, you need to default the the IBC minimum stair width.

If 2 different rules apply at the same time - say zoning and the IBC - then you go with the most stringent answer.

The ARE 'book' answer is correct.  Sometimes the 'real world' doesn't apply.  The 'real world' answer varies depending on whether you are in a rural area or the city and climate zone and cost.

Hope this helps!

Rebekka O'Melia, Registered Architect, NCARB, B. Arch, M. Ed, Step UP,  Step UP ARE 5.0 Courses

• (Edited )

Unless the question specifically asks "what is the calculated load/width ignoring code" always use minimum per code (not calculation - if below)

• Other piece advice I would offer is that I HIGHLY doubt that the ARE is going to ask you to give an answer that is not a code-compliant condition.  Using Rebekka's example above where you end up with only 23", and as you know that's too narrow, I strongly feel that the question would either A) be worded as such where it is clear you are to answer it with the "minimum code-required width" or B) they give you the excerpt from the Code that both tells you how to calculate stair width and the paragraph that says the minimum width required.  If Option B is how they present the question to you, the ARE is trying to trick you intentionally because they want to make sure that you read both excerpts they provided.  Meaning, "yeah you calculated 23 inches using this part of the code, but did you also read the section that we gave you that says minimum is 3'-8"?  And therefore, do you understand that the 3'-8" trumps over the 23 inches?"  That's the point of questions like that - they want to make sure you understand the concept of the stricter requirement applying.

Circling back to my original statement and using this same example, I strongly, strongly doubt that you would ever get a question where the answer would ever be 23", because that is too narrow of a stair per Code.  I personally did not encounter anything like that. Hope that helps and makes sense.

• (Edited )

Agree, I highly doubt this too. They are not testing your math skills - they are testing your ability to use the building code.

• You should refer to the code and find if there are exceptions and what conditions are required.