Purpose/History Of A Spiral Staircase???


Just looking for a little history info. and hoping that someone can help. My friend is "House Hunting" and looking for a new home. I went with her the other day, and looked at a house that she really liked. It is a 2 bedroom ( possibly 3 ) Colonial home built in 1926 that is completely renovated.
The thing that is "weird" about this house, is because it has a spiral staircase right in the MIDDLE of the small living room that leads upstairs to a finished attic or possible 3rd bedroom or rec. room/kids play area.
But at the back of the house, on the other side of the kitchen, there is another regular wooden staircase that also leads to the upstairs. This staircase is only located about 30 feet from the metal spiral staircase thats in the middle of the living room.
The house is only 936 sq. feet of living area, so why when building this thing, would they need to put 2 staircases about 30 feet apart from one another that both lead to the upstairs? Why have a regular wooden staircase located at the back of the house, and then roughly 30 feet away, have a metal spiral staircase right in the middle of the living room!?
We are very curious about this? Can anyone please explain why the house would have been built like this?
Thanks!
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MICHELLE H. wrote:

House was modified after it was built? Regular staircase added?
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LouB wrote:

Probably the other way around- the spiral was added. Only a damn fool would make a spiral the only staircase.
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aem sends...

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MICHELLE H. wrote:

Like the other poster, I strongly suspect it wasn't built this way originally. But, my guess would be it was the spiral staircase that was added, not the rear one.
My guess for the "why" would be that it was Code requirement to have the second exit for the upstairs when the major renovations were done to get approved for possibly using the upstairs as sleeping space.
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Or somebody thought a spiral staircase would look neat and didn't realize how it would effect future buyers.
If you do a lot of house hunting in older neighborhoods you will see a lot of this.
One that comes to mind is a house that used 4" x 4" tile in the entry way, down the hall and into the kitchen and they didn't worry too much about keeping straight lines.
Come to think of it this house also had a spiral staircase, but it was to get "deck" that was built over the back porch. The only other way to get there was to climb out and up from a second floor window.

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Cliff Hartle wrote:

Possibly but since it was addressed by the OP as a converted attic and a major renovation that would almost certainly required permitting, I'm presuming there were/are no windows of sufficient size to serve as the 2nd egress thereby necessitating the second staircase to meet Code.
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Why would you need a second exit for an upstairs of less than 500 sq. ft.?
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h wrote: ...

All sleeping spaces are required to have two exits regardless of size; if there's not a large-enough window in the attic, the second stairway is the result.
Now, whether it would have any real effect in case of fire given the size of the structure is another question but Code doesn't ask such questions nor do most inspectors/departments when approving plans. Unfortunately, it's generally a checklist sorta' thing--"No egress window, one staircase? Well, you'll have to add another stairway." If it were such that there's a door on two sides of the upstairs room at or near the head of each, it _might_ even make a difference.
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Building code. You may not need a second exit, but a spiral stair may not count at all.
I know that a friend had to change the design of his stairs from a spiral to a split landing for code. He also added a deck on the second floor with a door and stairs down from the deck and that made the building inspector happy. It was 20 years ago so I forget the details.
Another couple built a log cabin with loft and ladder. It was allowed to be for storage, but not for occupation unless there was a stair.
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My friend and I went back and looked at the outside of the house again, as she is undecided about it. We talked to a neigbor who lives next door to the place, and got lots of info. from him.
He said that the house was a "foreclosure" that went up for auction in "November of 2009". He said some "realty company" bought it/won it for $47,000. They then listed it for a few months, and sold it for $68,000, to some "rental property company". The "rental property company" then "flipped the house" and completely renovated it, and now they are trying to sell it for $135,000.
He says he doesn't know anything about the "spiral staircase", because he has never been inside the house before. He said that "the people who lived there BEFORE the foreclosure, NEVER took care of the place, and let it go to hell". "They never mowed the lawn or nothing" he said.
He said the house was originally a 2 bedroom ( both 1ST floor bedrooms ), 1 bathroom house, with an UNFINISHED attic on the 2ND floor. He said that when this "realty property rental company" flipped the house, they added brand new carpeting to the 2nd floor, and added built-in closet storage space on the 2nd floor, and converted the attic to a "finished area" that can be used as a 3rd bedroom, office space, kids play area, etc. etc.
So maybe the company that flipped it, added the spiral staircase, I don't know??
There ARE 3 windows on the 2nd floor though.
There is 1 full-size window at the top of the regular wooden staircase, which leads to the 2nd floor. The window faces the backyard from the 2nd floor. The regular wooden staircase is located at the BACK of the house on the other side of the kitchen.
And there are 2 full-size windows right next to each other at the FRONT of the home, facing the street, up on the now finished 2nd floor.
So with a house that is only 936 sq. feet of living area, why would they put a metal spiral staircase like 30 feet from the original back wooden staircase!? And why put it right in the middle of a TINY living room!?
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MICHELLE H. wrote: ...

More than likely. If you (or your friend) really, really cares about the "who", undoubtedly you could find building permits on file that should give enough scope to tell. (Altho I don't see that that question really has any bearing; either the friend likes the house enough to make an offer or not given the way it now is or discounting it enough to fix it as would want). ...

OK, so my guess on there not being windows was off base. Still, it's possible they either weren't sufficiently large to meet the egress requirements of Code (and I don't recall offhand what the actual dimensions are as well as what it says about location and height or roof access, etc., for second floor) nor, of course, do we have any idea what additional local requirements there might be over national code that may have something to do with it.
Or, otoh, perhaps they simply had a mad designer who thought putting it in there would be the perfect touch as some others have suggested... :) Surely there are even more ridiculous renovations made than this one.
To amplify on previous remarks, if the friend likes the house well enough except for that, she could ask local building enforcement what is the actual requirements for fire egress and whether the windows are adequate w/o the stairway to confirm whether it is, or is not, a Code addition(+). Knowing that one would have sufficient information on whether a remodel to remove it is allowable or not and then make the offer based on what an estimate for the modifications would cost. Or, of course, simply accept it as is.
(+) Or, if don't need the upstairs as sleeping space, perhaps even if the stair was added for that reason by not using it as sleeping area it might be possible to get occupancy permit w/o it allowing that option for removing it as well as if the windows are adequate for the Code requirement. Again, this would depend on local building code/inspection and one would need to check thoroughly and make any offers contingent on desired conditions being able to be met so don't have any gotcha's crop up.
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On Sat, 15 May 2010 14:04:05 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (MICHELLE H.) wrote:

Those kids better be careful playing or they'll fall down that hole, bumpeda, bumpeda and go shooting out the bottom.

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The spiral staircase is the "amenity", but it's only for people. The regular staircase is a necessity for moving furniture to the second floor.
HTH, Lefty
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On Sat, 15 May 2010 10:32:41 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (MICHELLE H.) wrote:

The one in back is probably for the servants.
Okay, just kidding.
And to be pedantic (but at least I'm quoting my mother, and everyone likes a boy who quotes his mother, or maybe it was the radio, these libary-style staircases arent' really spiral, which have a bigger radius, usually as one goes down the stairs.
The little ones are helical. OTOH, I don't think many people know what a helix was until Watson and Crick described DNA, so maybe they are spiral after all. Or at least that's what everyone calls them.
Okay: spiral 1. Geometry. a plane curve generated by a point moving around a fixed point while constantly receding from or approaching it. 2. a helix.
So I'm both pedantic and wrong, at least the way the word is used.
Others have answered your question better than I can.

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