Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

LaraNovember 15, 2013

We got a structural engineer to do our foundation design, he did a great job. Thought that was all I needed from the engineer, until today. Now I'm not so sure.

One of the guys doing the framing bid asked who was doing the stairs. I responded 'well, I thought you would as the framer.' Turns out that he thinks we need steel in the stairs and someone (engineer) needs to design and sign off on it.

Has anyone else required this? Did I totally miss a step with the structural engineer?

Here's a snapshot of our stairs. He said because there is nothing underneath it, there's not enough support with just lumber. But I would think that the closet underneath it is the support for the top of the stair. The entry is at the bottom, then on the right is where the stairs begin, they follow that octagon wall up, and there is a landing above the hall closet that you see at the top of the drawing. Hope that makes sense!

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What is under the corner/turn where the "13" landing is to "14" step? Is that a wall too?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 3:36PM
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My assumption was that it's a wall, because there is a doorway that goes underneath the stairs at that point, but I think the stairs will be high enough at that point so they will attach to the 2nd story wall if that makes sense. Here's a snapshot of the stairs on the 2nd story plan:

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Is there a stud wall under all of the stringers and landings?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 5:02PM
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Seems to me that the second floor landing will be cantilevered out with over-long joists, then the only flying run of the staircase is the flight just below the landing, which at the end has a wall under it. Can't see reason for steel unless the landing cannot be cantilevered.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 5:45PM
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I would think that if the framer does not want to do this without an engineers design -then you will need to get an engineer. (regardless of what any other framer might do)

I would rather have an overly cautious framer than not.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:37AM
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No steel is needed but using the right steel connectors at the joints will be critical. The stair builder needs a more complete drawing whether it is prepared by an engineer, a designer or a builder. Why is there not at least an elevation drawing of the stair? How does the designer know how it will look?

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Tue, Nov 19, 13 at 6:58

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 4:09PM
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Thanks everyone for the excellent info.

Virgilcarter: I believe there will be a stud all the way up to the 2nd landing because the idea was to have storage under there. But the architect plans don't show that detail - should they?

Casey - that's exactly what I was thinking (although I had to look up some of the terms you used). lol

Chris - yeah, see your point. i don't want to go with the cheapest option, but also want to validate if i need to get an engineer before spending the money.

Renovator8 - is that something that typically should come with the architect's set of construction docs, or is it not expected that they will do that? He is an excellent architect and has provided all the other elevation drawings of cabinets, bathrooms, etc. Should I ask him for the stair design?

Thanks everyone!! As always, great input.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 7:28PM
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There is no standard it varies by architect and what your particular municipality requires.

The stairs in my house is almost exactly the same.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 8:17PM
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Changes in any corner of the house always requires a structural engineer , you need to contact the structural design Engineers like the denver structural engineer. As I got my house designed by them, I highly recommend these.

This post was edited by denispowell on Fri, Oct 31, 14 at 1:01

    Bookmark   October 30, 2014 at 1:50AM
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Welcome to the interface between the architect's imagination and the reality of building a house.

I agree that you could ask your architect to clarify the stair construction details. Elevation drawings would be best. Even a 3D modeling of that wall would be helpful.

The fact that the framer noticed the stair design lacked critical information is a good sign.

This post was edited by rmtdoug on Thu, Oct 30, 14 at 2:24

    Bookmark   October 30, 2014 at 2:21AM
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denispowell, nice Spam!!!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2014 at 1:17PM
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