Help make my staircase safer

25 May 2012
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United Kingdom
The stairs in my Victorian house from ground floor to first floor are very short and very steep. The staircase is in the form of two runs of six stairs, with a landing at 90 degrees. The height of each riser is 21cm and the nosing to nosing going is a mere 18cm (which is well short of the minimum building regs standard of 22cm!)

It's therefore only possible to waddle with feet pointing out at an angle when walking downstairs. The only way I could increase the depth of tread would be to have five steps either side of the landing and increase the height of each step to 25cm - which is also against building regs. Would I be allowed to reduce the number of stairs and increase the height of each step (against building regs) in order to meet the required tread depth?



I've seen designs for "double winding" staircases that go back on themselves and have a semicircular turn after three or four steps but frankly I am not sure if that would be any safer. My main concern is the difficulty elderly relatives have when staying with us, and they don't get on with spiral stairs either. I have to also say that my experience of helping friends move house when it involves a double winding staircase is that getting large items up and down stairs is a total pain.

The other thing is that I don't particularly like the idea of gutting part of my house to replace the staircase - how much structural disruption would it involve and how long would I be unable to go upstairs for? I'm a bit reluctant to take on major work especially if Covid comes and takes the builders out partway through and I'm left with no access to the upstairs rooms. Plus in context it's actually a very attractive feature.

I'm looking into recarpeting the stairs as the existing carpet is worn and slippery, but before doing so thought I'd put the question out to see if anyone has any bright ideas about how to make the existing stairs safer.
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Building regs are not retrospective so do not apply to you stairs, mine built in the 30's have a similar dimension and are at 46 degrees, again do not comply. Replacing the landing with a winder would allow adjustment of all steps , but mean a new staircase as would raising the landing to alter the run.
As above,you don't have to stick to the present-day figures for rise/tread/pitch.
If you can make the staircase safer than at present - even if you diverge from the recommended figures - that will be acceptable.
Building Regs are not required to alter or replace a staircase even if you make them worse than the original ones! Obviously though it makes sense to improve them and if possible comply with approved document K. You may require B Regs if you moved their position but only due to any structural alterations.
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My mid 1950's steps are also quite steep I am told. I would not disagrees with that because I tend to go down them with feet at an angle, so as to get more of my foot onto each step. A stair lift would help with getting elderly up and might cost less than a new stair, a small one person domestic lift might be another option.

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