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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Attic stairs Reno -- need help!

tscroakNovember 12, 2012
My husband and I purchased a home and want to add a bed and bath to the unfinished attic. The house was built in 1940. However, the stairs leading to the attic will need to be replaced and reworked because they are too steep. We've had a couple contractors look at them but so far no one has a good idea of how to fix. Anyone else face this problem?
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This is a major scope of work and may require a designer / architect to visit your house or if you have any photos you can attach to let us see what the current situation is like.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 5:59PM
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Here are some photos of the steps
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Be very careful dealing with old stairs. I recently completed a project where we took almost everything else out of the house except the stairs. As long as I didn't touch the stairs, I could keep them but if I wanted to reconfigure them I would have had to meet current codes. My stairs were a full 36 wide, but the risers were a bit higher and the treads shallower than new ones.

If you need to redo stairs, expect to lose quite a bit of floor space on the current main floor because you will need extra length and width for the new stairs. it looks like you probably have the 80 inches needed for headroom so that shouldn't be an issue.

Building officials may be more willing to accept changes to existing stairs in your locality. Here, you either have to keep whatever stairs you have, no matter how difficult or do them completely over. Improving a dangerous staircase is not allowed, live with it or start over are the two choices.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:25PM
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Custom Home Planning Center
Given what I can see you need to redesign the stair to remove the turn treads which will not meet code. This means you will need to bring the stair to a turn platform with the 1st run of the stairs hitting a mid level platform the with of the stairs then add a 2nd platform one step higher as the next step and take off from there for the remaining clime. These stairs will end up past the knee wall in the attic given the rise and run necessary for code acceptance. Thus you will need to look at how that change affects the attic's floor joist and the ceiling of the floor below.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:02PM
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Custom Home Planning Center
You should find a local company that builds stairs and take the rise and run information to them or if they will come out have them do a plan for the replacement stairs. It will be in four pieces so getting it in the house shouldn't be a problem once you have modified the floor system.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:05PM
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