This sort of thing would be covered in a senior housing safety checklist
like the following...
Or safety requirements for a child care facility. (Additional design
considerations for housing for seniors, small children, developmentally
On Wed, 16 Jan 2013 07:06:53 -0600, The Daring Dufas
My sister's house has a basement with a door that opens out. Even
with that bit of safety I think having the stairs start immediately at
the top, just beyond the door, is asking for trouble since at some
point it seems like someone is going to mistake the basement door for
a bedroom door and in the dark/dim light open it and just "walk in".
Seems like putting a couple feet of landing,on the "other side" of the
door, at the top of these stairs would make them a lot safer.
95%+ of residential basement stairs I've seen don't have any
landing at the top. And it must not be much of a problem,
because the cases of someone doing what you suggest seem
to be rare. It would have to be dark not only in the stairwell, but
also in the area inside the house by the door. And it would
seem that if that is the case, then with your example of someone
walking around in pitch black, thinking they are entering a room,
wouldn't they then just walk off the 3 foot landing anyway?
As far as walking off of the landing, in many cases the landing is a
step down from room above, and often at a right angle to the stairs.
At least that's the way it is in many of the house I've seen/lived in.
Therefore, if I thought I was walking into a room, that first step
down would hurt, but I don't think I'd fall down the stairs. Of
course, I don't plan on proving myself right any time soon. ;-)
I find your 95%+ with no landing to be an interesting number. I'll
have to keep an eye out on that. In my experience (or maybe just in my
mind) I would say it is the exact opposite.
Very often, at least in my experience, there is an exterior door
associated with the basement stairs, such as an entrance from the
garage or from the side or back yard. Since there is usually a storm
door associated with this entranceway, the entry door opens in over a
landing. For example, at my house, if you come in from the garage you
would cross the landing and step up into the kitchen or turn right and
go down the basement steps. At my parent's and sister's houses, you
would come in from the yard, cross the landing and go down the steps
or turn right and step up into the kitchen.
I'll have to ask some of coworkers to see how many landings there are
in our small group.
On Thursday, January 17, 2013 9:30:21 AM UTC-5, DerbyDad03 wrote:
I have never seen a basement stair with a landing. I'm sure there are some out there but in my experience they are unusual.
There is another hazard to basement stairs. As you walk down, often there is an overhang. When you are directly below it, there is usually 8 feet of clearance, but on the way it is much lower. I have to duck, and if I tripped I'd bash my head into it. My wife and children are shorter and at no risk. Unless carrying an object, and that has surprised them a couple of times.
16 Jan 2013 07:06:53 -0600, The Daring Dufas > > >
tragic accident with some folks I know. The > > >elderly grandmother, 88 was at
home with her granddaughter, the > > >granddaughter's three young children and
the granddaughter's boyfriend. > > >The boyfriend had just spoken to grandma
then went into the room with > > >his gal when they heard an awful sound.
Grandma had fallen down the > > >basement stairs to the concrete floor below.
The boyfriend ran down to > > >check on grandma but she was fatally injured.
What happened was the > > >door to the basement stairs opened into the stairwell
and the latch was > > >defective and failed to hold when grandma was walking
down the hallway > > >holding onto the walls to steady herself. When she put her
>stairs. It seems to me that most basement doors I've seen open out and > > >not
into the stairwell. I don't know if there is a home-building code > > >regarding
this or not but anyone building a house should consider the > > >safety of a
door which opens into a stairwell. O_o > > > >TDD > > > My sister's house has a
basement with a door that opens out. Even > > with that bit of safety I think
having the stairs start immediately at > > the top, just beyond the door, is
asking for trouble since at some > > point it seems like someone is going to
mistake the basement door for > > a bedroom door and in the dark/dim light open
it and just "walk in". > > Seems like putting a couple feet of landing,on the
"other side" of the > > door, at the top of these stairs would make them a lot
safer.- Hide quoted text - > > > - Show quoted text - > > 95%+ of residential
basement stairs I've seen don't have any > landing
someone doing what you suggest seem > to be rare. It would have to be dark not
only in the stairwell, but > also in the area inside the house by the door. And
it would > seem that if that is the case, then with your example of someone >
walking around in pitch black, thinking they are entering a room, > wouldn't
they then just walk off the 3 foot landing anyway?- Hide quoted text - > > -
Show quoted text - As far as walking off of the landing, in many cases the
landing is a step down from room above, and often at a right angle to the
stairs. At least that's the way it is in many of the house I've seen/lived in.
Therefore, if I thought I was walking into a room, that first step down would
hurt, but I don't think I'd fall down the stairs. Of course, I don't plan on
proving myself right any time soon. ;-) I find your 95%+ with no landing to be
an interesting number.
an overhang. When you are directly below it, there is usually 8 feet of
clearance, but on the way it is much lower. I have to duck, and if I tripped
I'd bash my head into it. My wife and children are shorter and at no risk.
Unless carrying an object, and that has surprised them a couple of times. Basement stair landings are not common but I have seen them in
larger higher-end homes. The big problem is to get the required run
on the stairs, the addition of a 3 foot landing makes the stairs not
fit across the end of half the basement, and with center bearing
walls, having more than half the basement width available for the
stairs is not easily accomplished. In larger "center stair" designs,
the stairs can go down parallel to the bearing wall/center beam,
lengthwise instead of across the house. Still takes up a lot od space,
but in a 4000 or 6000 sq ft house it is not an issue.
In smaller homes, I have seen a fair number of "landings" in stairways
as well, but they are half way down, to allow the stairs to make a 90
degree turn to fit them in less than 10 feet of space.
In my house there is no basement door, as the full base,ment is
finished living space. The original setup was an in-opening door, with
the open doorinterfering with the also in-opening garage door ( the
basement door covered the latch side of the garage door when open)
When the kids were small we had a strong gate across the door opening
to prevent them falling down the (carpetted) basement stairs.
I have an "overhang" above the stairs but I'm short so there's never
The bottom of the floor joists are pretty low in my basement and some
of the large rectangular ductwork runs perpendicular (therefore below)
the joists. When I first moved in, it took me a little while to learn
to not duck as I walked under the ductwork. I clear it by about a
inch, which isn't much for the brain to judge. My brain kept telling
me to duck until I finally walked very slow underneath it and
convinced myself that I wouldn't hit it. Even after that, it took a
conscious effort not to duck until I retrained my brain.
It was like standing on those glass observation floors 100 stories up.
Part of your brain knows it's safe but you have to fight through your
I can get nauseated just looking at photos of that stuff...my fear of
heights developed somewhere in middle age :o) Only time since that I
climbed higher than the second rung on a ladder was to paint the huge
address sign on the end of our two-story condo building....hubby was
building manager and I wasn't about to go through the hell of him
slopping green paint on a freshly painted white wall...condo boards are
unforgiving. No longer a problem :o)
I just asked 4 coworkers about their basement stair configuration:
#1 - Three year old house - No door, 4 steps right off of the hallway
to a landing, turn to continue down. You could fall through the open
doorway and down to the landing.
#2 - Older house, remodeled to expand the kitchen. Originally the door
opened over steps, two steps down, landing, turn to continue down.
After remodel, door opens over steps, no landing, straight down to
basement (doorway and steps were moved.) You could lean on the door,
fall through and down to the basement.
#3 - Age of house unknown, door opens into hallway, no landing, stairs
go straight down. The door would have to be left open for someone to
#4 - Five year old house, door opens into kitchen, no landing, stairs
go straight down. The door would have to be left open for someone to
So, based on this small sample size, and the configuration of the
houses I am most familiar with (my family's) it's about 80% "landing
or door would prevent falling all the way into the basement", 20% "ow,
ouch, eeeeeeiiiii, splat".
Yes, those are exactly the arrangements that I have
seen where there is a landing too. But around here,
they are confined to old homes. A friend for example
has a house like that, but it's 100 years old. My
grandparents had a house they rented out that was
about that age too. Both of those, the back entrance
was as you describe. Around here there are so many
new houses and I've never seen that arrangement
in those. If you live in an area with a more substantial
ratio of old houses, then I agree they could be more
Another item to add to the discussion is the angle of the steps.
When we were house hunting, my first stop was usually the basement
since you can learn so, so much about a house from down there.
In many cases, I could tell if the house stood a chance with my wife
just by going down the basement stairs. If they were too steep (like
before current codes) I knew my wife would balk. Her fear of heights
is so strong that steep steps are a real issue.
There were some houses where I would go down the steep stairs and then
turn around to what it would take to "un-steep" them in case we liked
everything else about the house.
On Thu, 17 Jan 2013 07:59:30 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03
must be a landing between the door opening and top of the stairaw when
the door opens over the stairway. Lots of other interesting stuff
about stairways and building code at:
On Thu, 17 Jan 2013 06:07:43 -0800 (PST), " email@example.com"
I agree that 90% of residential basement stairs have no landing,
including mine[*]. A landing would cost valuable first-floor space so
isn't done. However, even a small landing would be beneficial so one
could clear the doorway before grabbing the rail. As it is, one
really has to lean forward to reach the rail or step down before
grabbing the rail.
[*] mine is worse, with a 90degree (two 45s) turn two steps down. I
hate angled steps. It's right below the second floor stairs, so the
same cut stairs are on both. Fortunately, I'm really the only one who
On Jan 16, 8:06 am, The Daring Dufas <the-daring-du...@stinky-
I'm sure older homes are grandfathered in, but I found this:
"International Building Code 2000 (BOCA, ICBO, SBCCI)
1003.3.3.4 Stairway landings. There shall be a floor or landing at the
top and bottom of each stairway."
"An interior door at the top of a flight of stairs need not have a
landing at the top of the stairs, provided the door swings away from
It doesn't say it, but that exception might also apply to stairways
with no door. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a friend that
had a house built less than 3 years ago. The stairs to his basement
are accessed via an opening off of a hallway. The opening has no
door. There's 4 steps down and then a landing, but none at the top.
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