Alter second story staircase?


I'm not happy with the layout of my current home and one of the things I really don't like is how the staircase flows from the first to the second floor. Right now you walk into the front door of the house and straight ahead is the staircase. There are about a dozen steps up, then then next couple turn you 90 degrees and then a final couple of steps.
The problem is that all the space between the stairs and front door and about 1/3 of the living room end up being "walkway" and it's a major pain trying to get furniture positioned usefully.
What I'd like to do is cut out the bottom 3 or 4 steps and turn them so the stairs have an extra 90 turn. This will allow me to move the front hall closet againts the side of the new steps, opening up the entranceway as well as reducing the exposure from wind/cold when the door is opened. It would also really reduce the wasted space here.
...so... How hard is it do modify an existing staircase? I have full access to the stairs from the basement below.
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Anything is do-able if you have enough $ ;)
Give some consideration to the flooring that you will need to do if you move the stairs.

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Noozer wrote: ...

It's just carpentry, albeit perhaps somewhat tricky to get dimensions and angles right, but nothing that careful planning and execution won't take care of. If you're thinking of building an angled or spiral set of stairs at the bottom and haven't built stairs before, you'll find it challenging, no doubt. If you're reasonably skilled and have problem-solving skills to figure out how to compute/measure the right angles to get the proper rise/run, it's doable. Otoh, if framing a straight wall is a challenge, you'll probably want to consider getting a pro to at least do the framing/structure.
Problem you may run into is that by the time you make the transition to get the 90-deg turn, either by incorporating a landing or by multiple steps around the corner, you'll find the required extension into the room the other way also too long. Only careful design before you start will tell you the answer to that question. Look carefully at the overall space required to make the transition at the top in terms of height and distance and transfer that to the location of the bottom -- you may find that what looks superficially like a simple rearrangement of those bottom 3 or 4 steps actually requires far more footprint than you're envisioning to reach the floor level. This is a perfect place to build a few trial models of cheap ply or even cardboard to work out the arrangement before you start cutting to be sure it will actually work out.
I'd suggest looking at the local library and perhaps online for a couple books on building staircases -- Taunton Press has a couple I've glanced through that are pretty good altho I don't recall who was the author offhand.
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If you have to ask "how hard is it to modify a stair case" the answer is "too hard". It's not easy and you have structural issues to deal with.
Think about this as an alternative. You want to turn the bottom 3 or 4 steps and you'll have a landing over top of where those stops are now. It will be easier to just build the landing over top of those stairs and leave them in place. Then just add new stairs on the side of the landing.
--- <-- existing stairway | -------------------------------------| <---new landing | | ... --- .......................... | <--- new stairs coming towards you | | ........ --- ....................... | |______________| ^ | existing to stairway to remain in place.
Noozer wrote:

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Pat wrote:

Hmmm...now that does point up something I was wondering about. I can't see where he gains anything on the footprint. 3 steps turned 90 degrees will still extend the same length along the space as the original three steps did or only a few inches shorter. Assuming treads 11" deep (average), the 3 steps take up almost 3 foot where they are, turned sideways they will also be about 3ft wide.
Harry K
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I would think he would lose space, but he will reconfigure the room so he could put some piece of furniture right where the bottom of the steps are not and maybe pick up some liveable room by being able to use space that is now a large walkway or something.
Harry K wrote:

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Well, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that if you're only changing the direction of the last few steps, you're not going to and up changing the length of the stairway at all. The landing (and you DON'T want winders on your main stair..) will take up the same space as the steps that you're re-directing. So the only thing you gain is moving where you enter the stairway.
Then there's the problem of overhead clearance.. the distance from the front of each step to whatever's overhead has to be what, 78"? (or is that spiral stairs, and thse have to be 80"?) So you may end up having to rebuild a section of the second floor.
The simplest way to modify the stairs, if you're still determined to do it, is to just build a platform that covers the bottom three steps, and then build a short stairway up to this new landing from the side.
Are there cellar stairs underneath these? If not, I think you'd be better off swapping the stairway end-for end.
Or moving the front door. That would actually be easier. I don't suppose you can post a floor-plan anywhere? (of all three floors) --Goedjn
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Goedjn wrote:

<snip>
I ran into an oddity in a very old house. Cramped floor space at the bottom so they hinged the bottom 3 steps. Those steps neatly folded up over the top of the next 3 steps. Looked strange, but it worked. Allowed space for a door that would have been blocked.
Harry K
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Thanks for the replies folks.
I'm working on a diagram that will help explain what I'd like, and will post a link once I've got it ready.
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