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Question DetailsAsked on 9/23/2013

I need to change the rise of my basement stairs, What would be typical expense for this type of work

The stairs leading to our finished basement are too steep for my wife and I to easily navigate down. I would like to change them to gentler rise that could be navagited faily easily. I'm wondering if anyone could give me an idea of the expense involved in this kind of construction? Thanks

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2 Answers


I am sorry but unless one that is answering this questions could see your site I don't think an accurate answer can be given. If you have the headroom and landing space at the bottom of the stairs it could be less than $2000 or way higher. I would have to see and measure to be able to give an answer.

Sorry Don

Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


Generally, the top cannot be moved further into the house. That leaves extending them out at the bottom. You need 7 feoot headroom over the treads in most jurisdictions. Depending on what lies over the bottom of the stairs (on the floor above), it may be possible to extend them out if you have room without hitting a wall - could be in the $500 plus or minus range for plain wood unfinished stairs, to $1000 range with carpet or hardwood treads if you have a high ceiling (rare for a basement).

More likely, you will not be able to get the headroom necessary or will run into a wall before you get flat enough to suit you, so you will need to flatten the existing run out, put in a midway landing, then a 90 or 180 degree turnonthe landing to another set of stairs, which takes up a bit more downstairs floor space. This is where you would be getting into the couple of thousand $ or more range that Don mentioned. The big problem is that when you flatten the stairs out, not only do they run longer horizontally (hence, running into the wall issue), but every step down from the top is now higher than before, so you have to cut further into the floor above to make headroom, and commonly this interferes with hallways or an upstair's room's usable floor space. Only if you are very lucky can you get the needed space by sacrificing some space in the floor of an upstairs closet right over the stairs.

In the extreme case, which I have done on a couple of commercial jobs including one with about 20 staircases in a hotel that had illegally steep staircases in new construction, is to put in a very broad spiral staircase, but that is more expensive and does make for a larger cutout in the floor above, commonly with cutting of floor joists, which means adding structural support columns too, though not prohibitively more expensive.

If flattening the stairs cannot be done reasonably in your case, then your only other viable alternatives are to

1) finding another place where long stairs or a ramp could be built parallel with the floor joists, and come up through the upstairs floor somewhere else where you have available floor space for the headroom and stairhead and landing cutout in the floor above (probably $2-5,000). I was consulting on fire restoration at a country club once where they had a neat solution to handicap accessibility to a downstairs game room - they ran a long ramp up one wall, cutting into the floor above for headroom for maybe 10 feet, but actually exiting at ground level into a weather or arctic entrance that T'eed out of the building and served as grounds entrance and cloakroom.

2) build an enclosed outdoor stairway "bumped out" or "tacked onto" the outside of the house where space is no problem (typically $2-4,000 assumignyour basement is not more than 3-4 feet into the ground),

3) installing a motorized stair lift (typically $3-5,000 installed),

4) installing an elevator (typically $15-25,000 installed as a retrofit),

5) or moving to a single-story ranch house (typically $10-25,000 move cost + $20-40,000 current home sales commission and closing costs and new home closing costs).

When you consider your options, bear in mind whether you or your wife's health condition is such that handling stairs is likely to become more problematic - rather than sink money into flattening the stairs only to have to remodify access in a couple of years, spending a bit more and going to a stair lift might be a wise step, depending on your situation.

If assessing this sounds a bit much for you, one alternative would be to contact an architect with experience in mobility enhancement and disability access to do an on-site consult (probably about $250-350) and provide initial ideas and recommnedation, and could then go ahead if you wanted and prepare plans and specs and help locate a contractor to do the actual work, though this would involve probably a total of $600-1200 for his services.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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