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I've got a building with several exterior doors (all opening inward). The slab and walk-up is about 18+" from the ground. Code requires that I have a 36"x36" landing pad outside each exterior door. What's the best way to build this? Should I build a form and use concrete or something out of wood? Can I use existing CMU blocks? What would be the easiest and least expensive way to be in compliance with code?

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If you build the pad with concrete you may want to consider not making it out of a solid block of concrete. Instead form it up to create sides and a couple of steps as necessary. But then fill a large portion of the inner area with sand so that the top of the landing is 4 to 6 inches thick. A little re-bar in the sides and folded over to embed in the top can help keep the thing together if it cracks due to frost.

If you do live in an area with frost getting deep into the ground you should consider adding corner holes down into the ground (with re-bar up into the step portion) that can act as posts down below the frost line so as to minimize the heaving effect that can make a floating construction move around during the year cycle and also settle into a off level state over a series of years.

Wood can offer an easy alternative but you have to determine if wood has a look that you like. Also wood may require replacement in 15 years or so depending upon materials and conditions. Finally with wood, if a frost zone, it is a good idea to build it on treated posts that you bury to a depth below the frost line.

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This is in Louisiana - no frost likely, but there is a possibility of sinking/subsidence. I'm wondering if it's easier to build it out of wood. And does code require any other steps depending upon the height from the ground level to the slab? This is not a front door, but a side door. –  S.ov Oct 8 '12 at 0:44
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In my estimation it is easier to build the step platform out of wood. With wood you start construction going directly to the final result. Concrete requires that you first build a set of forms, probably from wood, that are the subsequently removed once the concrete setup up. The concrete job requires a broader assortment of tools. The wood step can use all the same tools as for the forming process. If you have limited experience with concrete you may want to go with wood unless you can hire or solicit some experienced helpers. As far as code see next comment. –  Michael Karas Oct 8 '12 at 7:25
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Code requirements for your step will likely be state and community specific. So you should check with your local authorities to see will be really needed. Some things that may be needed: a) Railing on the sides b) Spacing of rails c) Hand rails for steps d) Specified riser and width for steps e) Minimum foundation requirements f) Free standing versus being attached to the dwelling. –  Michael Karas Oct 8 '12 at 7:38
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