Petulant Assholes

Still thinking about that elderly Brit who shot a local bureaucrat who’d come to have the old guy’s “illegal” cottage torn down, when I saw this cheery little snippet from Toronto:

A man spent his own money on building some stairs so elderly people could climb up this steep path. However, he fell foul of officials who tore them down.

Note the price difference:

I’d say more, but I first have to wait for the Red Curtain Of Blood (RCOB) to subside in my eyes.  In the meantime, some kind soul should put a pot of tar on to boil and gather the feathers… I’ll oil the rope


  1. The best is the enemy of the good enough.
    options :
    1) city – dither for an indeterminant period of time, then remove 5′ or 6′ of soil to get below the frost line. Place well-drained sand and gravel along with rebar’ed concrete foundations. Install flame finished granite treads. Install rust proof posts, balusters and railings including baluster spacing to avoid a young kid strangling him/herself by sticking their head between said balusters. Cost, using city workers, $65000. A job for the ages.
    2) do what this guy did, except use stainless steel fittings and tropical hardwood like ipe or merante. Cost, using experienced deck installers, $7000-$10000. Life, based on my 20 year old ipe deck in New England, maybe as much as 30-50 years. Even in Canuckistan.
    3) just do what this guy did, but include labor cost. Cost $2000-$4000. Life, maybe 10 years with desultory city maintenance.

    So, its better to have a city approved steep rutted slippery path than an affordable alternative. Dear city official, your dignity is not all that.

  2. chuckR has the sense of it, in every good way.

    That said, what our intrepid volunteer built, would, I think, be savaged by any actual structural engineer. Stringers in the mid section of the treads, but none at the edges. Railing posts supported only by treads, which have no stringer beneath to transfer the loads.

    A gallant effort, and what appears to be decent craftsmanship, to be certain.

    A *bit* of work with a shovel to make room for stringers at the ends of the treads, and some adroitly placed concrete at the stoop and landing, combined with a more conventional layout….and then the volunteer effort would last as long as the materials themselves.

    I *just* built all-new stairs, porch railings and stair railings here. All treated wood, dimensioned, sanded, routed (fluting and roll-over bits), painted & stained as appropriate. 100% stainless fasteners throughout.

    Guar-an-damn-tee-ya, what I just built will outlast what any of the local contractors put up.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

    1. Gotta agree with Jim, the stringers and the posts just jumped out at me. Pity though, it coulda been a keeper. OTOH he probably had to do it surreptitiously so kudos for effort anyway.

    2. Oops, Jim is right of course. What I get for too quickly responding. The posts should of course be lagged into the stringers. Would have to do some excavation first to position the stringers apart – I’d use my favorite gardening tool, a mattock.

  3. As a contractor of 30 plus years, I agree with the guys above. Those stairs were poorly built and there are several International Building Code violations.

    That said, I could have a crew of 3 finish a code-compliant set in 1.5 days. 1/2 a day to dig footings / pour concrete. 1 day for construction when ‘crete was dry. Done out of pressure treated wood w. an aluminum railing, total cost: $8000 USD. Done out of one of the hardwoods mentioned above, $10.5K

  4. Interesting. Your basic business plan has great merit. Are you interested in forming a non-profit organization? Several end games come to mind; milk it endlessly, living well while moving funds offshore or establish a sizable fund then skip the country with proceeds.

  5. I remember this story. Know the exact location as well. Whole hoopla wasn’t just that an elderly man did it and the city of Toronto (spit) tore it down to rebuild it. The city originally refused to do anything at all. Of course the final product took a few months to construct by union labour.

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