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Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

Posted by dreamhome2013 (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 15, 13 at 15:11

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!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

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

RE: Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

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:

RE: Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

Is there a stud wall under all of the stringers and landings?

RE: Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

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.

RE: Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

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.

RE: Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

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

RE: Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

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.

RE: Do I need a structural engineer for stairs?

There is no standard it varies by architect and what your particular municipality requires.

The stairs in my house is almost exactly the same.

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