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Question DetailsAsked on 6/8/2016

What is the average cost to install an exterior door on the second story?

The door placement would be on the side of the second story of the house where an existing basic closet is between two bedrooms. The closet (which consists just one set of vertically stacked shelves) would be removed, as well as the closet door, and that area would be used as the walk in to the main room with the door placed on the outside of the house. Preferably I'd like to have straight wrought iron stairs leading up to it, but if it's cheaper to have spiraled I'm not against it.

So I'm curious as to how much this would cost as well as the average time frame it would take to complete.

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1 Answer


You will almost certainly need plans from an Architect to be able to get a building permit for this, and also for bidders to bid to and the selected contractor to build to - architect can also (after a site visit) give you a better ballpark number than I can from thousands of miles away sight-unseen.

Commonly - $1000-1500 for the door/doorway assuming frame construction (not concrete or brick), and the stairs (straight MUCH cheaper than spiral plus spiral normally not legal for outside egress) typically in the VERY rough ballpark of $100-300/vertical foot of rise ($50-150/step), plus that again for standard factory metal railings. For wrought iron railings add probably another 50-100% to that cost FOR EACH RAILING needed depending on whether factory component railing or custom made - more if complex or a lot of curved shapes to the design. So assuming 8-10' height to second story from ground, probably in the gross ballpark range of $1000-1500 for the door/doorway, $800-2400 for the stairs, $800-2400 for the railings (or more with custom built wrought iron railings), $1000-2000 labor to install and incidentals for trim and flashing and such, and probably about $300-500 for the landing concrete pad, totalling maybe $5000-8500 with normal materials.

This would be your low-end - could easily rise to $8000-12,000 with fancier options, and I would not go into this without at least an expectation of it being at least in the $5-10,000 range by the time all is said and done. Depending on what appearance you want, and stair height, a factory fabricated standard metal stair with built-in railings and landing can run in the roughly $2500-4500 range plus $1000 or two installation, so again $4500-8000 range inclluding the cut-in and door - same ballpark range but likely to go in a lot quicker than component or custom-built.

With pretty plain wood stairs and railings you might cut the stair and railing cost in half or so, but door cost and labor about the same. Plus might well need an intermediate support pier set with footers, so might not be much cheaper than factory built standard stock item metal stiarcase.

This also assumes of course that the stairs will not be blocking lower level doorways, windows, utility boxes or buried utilities - and that an exterior entrance to the upstairs does not require an exemption or waiver from Planning and Zoning because it is considered to make the upstairs a separate living unit - which in some areas it would.

Here is another response on the wrought iron railing cost issue from a previous question -

Time to do - actual installation working time around 4-8 steady mandays so scheduled time a week or two roughly if the contractor gets with it aggressively and does not start cutting-in before the stair components/railings arrive. More commonly with the "typical" contractor - a month or so because most will not order the railing until the stairs are in.

NOTE - in most areas, taking out a closet in a bedroom (if the only built-in closet) declassifies that as a bedroom, so when you go to sell you will be listed as having one less bedroom than you thought - can dramatically affect price. In some areas, you also have to have a hall closet on each floor, so if you are taking away the only hall closet on that floor that can get you into trouble too, so check with architect or the building department AND tax assessors office about that before doing this.

Also - generally, you generally have to have 3x3 landing at the top of the stairs (assuming the door open inwards) and at each change of direction minimum - and 3 foot wide passages - so if the closet does not allow for that (3 feet wide coming in if straight shot, or 3x3 if acting as a turning point at head of stairs) that is also a consideration. With a typical closet you will not have room for an inward opening door, so might have to be outwards, which increases the landing size at the top of the stairs to more like 3' wide (out from the house) but 6 feet front to back before first step - which makes the stairs larger.

Another consideration is the clearance in the closet - likely the doorway will have to be raised to 7 feet minimum if not already there, which could add some few hundred $ to the cost.

Clearly, a LOT depends on your specific situation and design - so an architaect's conceptual cost estimate, or plans plus bids from several contractors will be needed before you know for sure what price range you are talking about.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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