Are my stairs going to collapse ?

Hi, my house is a five-year old newbuild, and has a 'cloakroom' underneath the stairs. Recently I have noticed that gaps have been appearing between the skirting on the stairs and the rest of the wall - a few mm at the moment, but enough to worry me.

stairs skirting is plastered into the wall - this has started to crack, and in fact when someone is walking up the stairs you can actually see this move slightly.
Occasionally I've also heard a cracking noise whilst I have been in the sitting room which might be caused by this (it could also be the metal door exterior cooling down, but I am getting paranoid at times - my missus is pregnant, etc)
Is this all normal? Is there danger of this getting worse ? Should I get someone in under NHBC (which I note doesn't cover us for work under £500)
I can't find info on this anywhere - all help appreciated.
-- DD
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I should point out that it's the plaster around the edges of this which is cracking, not, to my knowledge the item itself
- ta
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snipped-for-privacy@distant.co.uk wrote:

When you say skirting, do you actually mean the "string" of the stairs (i.e. the wooden side piece of the staircase each of the treads and risers are rebated into)?

A certain amount of movement with stairs is inevitable to an extent. You may also experiance a small amount of shrinkage of the wood over time. How much will depend on the wood used to make them. Quite often stairs these days will have softwood strings, with ply or MDF treads and risers.
One would hope the string is well fixed to the wall. It used to be common to rebate the string into the plaster a little to hide any movement of the string - but this is not so common now. Any curl in the string could also show as the edges pulling away from the wall.
--
Cheers,

John.

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John Rumm wrote:

That sounds about right to my layman ears !

So I should probably fill the gaps with something flexible and durable, look at adding some additional plaster covering over the rest of the 'string' and then hopefully stop worrying ? (Please say yes)
Cheers
-- DD
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Distant Dave wrote:

Flexible filler, yup. Plaster covering - not so sure. Depends a bit on what you have.
Assuming (looking at one sise of the staircase):
| |<--- wall | |a |# |# <---- string of staircase |# |# |# |# |b | | |
We are talking about gaps visible between the wall and the string that you can see at "a" and "b", then I would expect that the string is painted / varnished / finished etc as the other woodwork in the locality. In which case just fill the gap and finish to math the wood rather than plastering anything.
--
Cheers,

John.

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Assuming (looking at one sise of the staircase):
| |<--- wall | |a |# |# <---- string of staircase |# |# |# |# |b | | |
We are talking about gaps visible between the wall and the string that you can see at "a" and "b", then I would expect that the string is painted / varnished / finished etc as the other woodwork in the locality. In which case just fill the gap and finish to math the wood rather than plastering anything.

Yes that sounds about right - but also in the room beneath the stairs you have (side view of the wall)
|- - <---x | | | | |- - <--y | | | | | |_ _ floor__
It's at x and y that the plaster has cracked - so I can fill it, fine, but I was thinking that if I perhaps add more plasterboard and plaster over that, it will conceal the movement (and any sub sequent cracks) better.
I may be being naive there...
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Hi, my house is a five-year old newbuild, and has a 'cloakroom' underneath the stairs. Recently I have noticed that gaps have been appearing between the skirting on the stairs and the rest of the wall - a few mm at the moment, but enough to worry me.

stairs skirting is plastered into the wall - this has started to crack, and in fact when someone is walking up the stairs you can actually see this move slightly.
Occasionally I've also heard a cracking noise whilst I have been in the sitting room which might be caused by this (it could also be the metal door exterior cooling down, but I am getting paranoid at times - my missus is pregnant, etc)
Is this all normal? Is there danger of this getting worse ? Should I get someone in under NHBC (which I note doesn't cover us for work under £500)
I can't find info on this anywhere - all help appreciated.
DD
This sounds normal to me. Buildings move all the time, and even slight changes in temperature can cause the house to make some incredible sounds as it expands and contracts. If you notice that these gaps are increasing at a very fast rate, then you should in a surveyor to have a good look. If the gap is only minor, say a couple two or three millimetres, then this is normal for a building.
Stairs, especially timber ones, aren't actually connected to the walls at the side of them. They are made in one continuous runner on either side that hold the treads in place. The stair case is then, quite literally, leaned against the landing structure and is held in place rather lightly so it doesn't slide away. Like putting a ladder against a wall and tying it off really. So you could check that the treads and risers are still being held tightly in position by their respective wedges if access to them is good.
But it does sound quite normal to me.
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BigWallop wrote:

The exception to this will be a staircase with a quarter winder at the top and bottom since this will leave one side effectively unsupported. This will either need to be held up on legs or some sort or fixed to the wall.
--
Cheers,

John.

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snipped-for-privacy@distant.co.uk wrote:

2 or 3 mm cracks are normal in houses. Stairs are normally wood, and wood bends a bit when stood on, so again there willb e cracking and movement, causing creaks.
Tomorrows paper will probably carry an account of the staircase thatc ollapssed, bringing the loft joists down and causing the roof to collapse, killing the occupant. But Ive never heard of it happening yet.
NT
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