Old house basement staircase delima...

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Master Brian, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Nov 13, 2008
    My house was built in 1915, so obviously it doesn't conform to today's building codes in a lot of aspects. My current dilema is the staircase to the basement. Coming in from the back door is almost like a split level house, there is a landing, you go up 6 steps to get to the main living space and down 6 steps to get to the basement. It needs to be re-worked as not all risers or treads are equal size and the landing at the top needs to be raised about 2-3" to allow for regrading the exterior lanscape to deal with a low spot which allows water to come in the back door during heavy rains.

    In any case, the delima is riser height and tread depth from the landing to the basement. Currently, the treads are about 8" deep (+/- 1/4") and the risers range from about 7-3/4" - 8-1/4". Most are 8"+. If I raise the landing about 2-1/2", this should give me riser heights of 8-1/2" and I figure I can get by with a 9-1/2" deep tread. Obviously not ideal or code, but I only have so much wiggle room.

    One option, I have considered is adding an extra step. Problem is the last step currently goes right under the sill plate and rim joist for the main body of the house. With 8-1/2" riser height, at 6'2", I can go under without worrying of hitting my head on the sill plate. Someone 6'4", might have to duck! If I add an extra step to make the rise/run more complaint, I'd have to remove the sill plate and rim joist and reframe. Even though a buddy, whom is a contractor, told me how he'd do it, it still worries me. I don't really want to risk any possible shifting of my block wall foundation, etc.

    So I guess I'm looking for opinions. Live with the steep stairs, which are very common in old houses, or reframe a critical point in the house? No matter what I do, they'll never meet today's code requirements....
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