Crazy basement stair idea

flgargoyleSeptember 17, 2007

In trying to design a pretty small (1200') house with everything we want, the basement stairs keep getting in the way. A friend said, "Why not put them outside?" Well, I didn't like that idea much, since we will use the basement regularly, until it dawned on me that I could enclose an outside stairway. Since it's a walk-out basement (in the back) and the back wall will be frame construction, I can simply add a bump-out (about 8'X8') to encase the stairs. I could put a landing halfway down to an outside door to get to the backyard, and could add windows for light and interest. It may look a little funny, but few people will ever see the back of our house, and we don't care. Anyone see a down-side to this idea? I've certainly never seen a stairway like it!

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I've seen these a number of times on older homes. It always struck me as a very awkward way to get to the basement. Especially if it's used regularly.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 8:55PM
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won't it get real cold or hot in that area depending on the time of year? Have you considered a circular stairway?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 8:20AM
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If I understand correctly, you seek to expand your home so that you can place a stairway to the basement somewhere other than in the midst of the home.

I believe that could work. Placement will be important both for the loss of wall space on the main floor as well as entrance into the basement.

Consider a triangular bump-out. The stairway could follow the bump-out with a 90 degree turn at the landing, or reverse upon itself with a 180 degree turn. Windows at the main house level would capture light from 2 directions. The bump-out and stairway would add interesting archectural features to the home. This would be a small square footage addition dependant upon the width of your stairs and depth of the basement.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 1:42PM
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I'm still sifting through building codes to find out what the dimensions have to be for a basement stairway. I'm not worried about temperature extremes, since we're building in a moderate climate (SC), I'll insulate it well, and the temperature will probably match the basement, which won't vary much due to being under ground. The triangle idea sounds interesting- I'll have to sketch it to see if it works. The spiral idea would be cool, too- I could make a round tower for a stairwell! I don't see why it would be an more or less convenient than any other location. In this case, the door would be in between the kitchen and the dining area, so if you came upstairs for something- you'd come out in the kitchen- my favorite room of the house! I can get creative here, since I'll be designing it and building it. Thanks for the ideas- keep 'em coming!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 5:07PM
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I did a little more research. Code calls out a 36" wide stairway. A spiral stair is OK , too. A half-round bump-out with a spiral staircase- interesting! I'm not sure how much fun that would be carrying stuff, but the basement is a walk-out, so I can always get stuff in and out that way, just using the stairs for quick trips.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 7:02AM
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I'd keep the stairs inside. Bog stuff could be carried in from the walk out.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 10:05AM
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It is very good to consider all the options, then decide. Your idea is really not bad. A few houses in this area had basements added long after the house was built and used stairs such as you describe. A couple of churches were raised slightly on beams while a full basement was excavated with a tracked loader, a foundation built and the building placed on the new basement walls. In those cases, there was no place for an interior stairway in the existing building. In one case, one had to go outside to the new stairs. Never popular with the congregation. In the other, a new addition with basement was abutted to the existing building and that provided space for stairs and access. If it makes your floor plan work better, go for it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 12:06PM
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