Having a two-story house automatically means more space, right? Well, not quite. Just because you’ve built vertically doesn’t mean you’re getting the most of your available square footage. It may not have occurred to some of you, but your staircase’s location could be part of the problem.
It’s possible to move stairs inside a house but is best left for larger home renovations. Permits are needed to move stairs above ground level and relocating stairs costs as much as $2000.
There is a lot of content to cover in this article. We will discuss how hard it can be to move stairs and if doing so requires a permit. We’ll also talk about moving costs and the best places to put stairs in your house.
Table of Contents
Is It Hard to Move Stairs in a House?
Moving a staircase sounds terrifying, but it isn’t impossible. Often, moving certain parts of your home around can open your floor plan and give you much more room than what you originally had. However, transferring stairs from one location to another is a serious project that you shouldn’t take lightly.
Relocating a staircase is challenging, as it requires a lot of planning and rebuilding. While it’s possible to move stairs in a house, you need an acute understanding of your home’s layout. You should carefully consider why you’re relocating the stairs and where you’re going to put them.
You can move the stairs in your house, but it’d be tricky to pull off without knowing your homes’ layout. You have to understand how each part of the house fits together before you have an idea of how big a job you’ve got ahead of you. Moving staircases can range from simple and relatively reasonable to complicated and expensive.
If you comprehend your home’s floor plan, it might not be too large a task to move the stairs independently. Most staircases don’t hold any structural weight, so you can move them without your place crumbling into pieces. Putting stairs near or in between significant structural components may be within the scope of the average DIYer’s skills.
Complications start to crop up when you want to move your stairs near load-bearing areas, or you have to begin knocking them down. In either of these scenarios, you’re going to need a contractor and a structural engineer – people who can draw plans for your new floor plan and correctly implement them.
Moving stairs can make your home feel more open and brand new. Your home may feel more expansive and streamlined. With a set of well-outlined plans and an excellent contractor or exceptional DIY skills, you can move a set of stairs.
Do You Need Planning Permission to Move Stairs?
A planning permit is documentation that permits you to use the land for a specific purpose you’ve declared. Planning permissions have been an issue for over four million people across the UK attempting home renovations. US renovations don’t require planning permits but building permits.
Planning permits are a UK requirement you have to get before embarking on specific projects, and they involve stating how you intend to use the land on which you’re building.
Stairs and other internal renovations don’t need planning permits if you’re building them within a private residence. Work happening at conservation areas may call for permits, though.
Any work done inside your home doesn’t require a planning permit; this includes things like stairs, kitchens, bathrooms and garage and loft conversions. Minor maintenance on external roofing and walls doesn’t need planning permits either, nor do you need permits for working on windows and doors.
Instances in which you would need a planning permit include the following:
- If your home is listed – or on a list of architecturally or historically essential homes
- When building sheds
- When building outhouses
- If paving your front garden
Your shed would have to be shorter than four meters (13 feet), only up to half (or less) as big as the property to forgo a permit. Front garden materials have to be porous if you don’t feel like waiting for permission. Any material that’s not porous and more extensive than five square meters (about 54 square feet) needs a permit.
A conservation area is a location that has historical or architectural importance that’s worth being preserved. Construction sites in these areas typically need conservation area consent.
Tearing down gates, walls, or fences a meter (three feet) near open areas, water, highways, bridleways, or public footpaths need conservation area consent before starting demolition.
Getting rid of two-meter (six-feet) tall walls located anywhere in the conservation area need conservation consent as well. A general rule of thumb is to check with local planning authorities if you plan on renovations or demolitions in conservation lands.
Do You Need Building Permit to Move Stairs?
We’ve already gone over what a planning permit is and where they’re issued, but how is that different from a building permit?
To establish the contrast between the two, we need to go into greater detail.
Firstly, planning permits are regulatory documents that keep track of land development and align with government planning.
These permits consist of a set of requirements that landowners need to meet and construction plans. The following require planning permits:
- Putting up signs
- Removing vegetation
- Renovating structures
- Constructing buildings
- Subdividing land
A building permit is permission granted by regulatory establishments that allow you to start building new or renovating existing buildings. Building permits have more to do with how particular structures are constructed and if they’re up to safety and regulation standards.
These documents are kind of like a promise that whatever you’re building meets the minimum requirements. Building permits make sure that:
- Inspectors will check over buildings as required.
- Licenced builders or contractors are handling the construction.
- Workers completed projects to regulation standards
- Constructed buildings are safe for habitation and work.
No matter the location throughout North America, you’re going to need a building permit to move your stairs. The entire point of the permit is to make sure homeowners don’t end up with their houses folding like a stack of cards.
Building surveyors are the ones that award building permits so they can ensure you’re not making any hazardous changes to your home and everything is above board. A gigantic hole will be all that’s left of where your stairs were that will need framing – so you’ll need to restructure part of your home.
Technically, you’ll need two permits in North America, one for the framing and another to move the stairs themselves. After the completed project, an inspector will need to look the stairs over to check that they meet staircase codes.
How much you spend on your stairs depends on how long the process takes and how you want the finished result to look. Don’t expect the job to be finished in a weekend, though. Relocating a staircase requires a lot of time and energy. You might not go broke, but you’ll have put in quite a bit of funding.
On the high end of the spectrum, moving a staircase can cost more than $2000. Contractors won’t charge the same across the board, and you have to consider what decorative elements you want your new stairs to have, too; the time put in can begin to add up rapidly.
Moving stairs can take around 12 hours, with builders charging $45 to $85 per hour. The least you can expect to pay is $750. Ideally, you’d spend only $1000 or so on your shifted staircase if you’re keeping the aesthetics the same.
Fees can balloon to about $2040 if you want a new look, however. New stringers and treads, mainly hardwood or premade treads, will be exceptionally costly. These amounts will fluctuate depending on where you live, so check with general contractors near your area.
Where Is the Best Place to Put Stairs?
As it turns out, “Anywhere that’s not load-bearing” isn’t quite the right answer to “Where should I move my stairs?” You can put stairs where load-bearing supports are. However, if you want them to influence your house positively or simply look good, they should follow Vastu Shastra or good design rules.
Vastu has eight tenants to follow for staircase placement and construction.
According to Vastu Shastra, stairs should never be at the center of your home. Another Vastu tenant is that you can build a southern facing home’s internal staircase in the northeast area of the house.
Stair placement can get more complicated than you might think. So, I’m splitting the question of where to put your stairs into two parts: Vastu rules and staircase design, the latter of which we’ll discuss later.
The words “Vastu” and “Shastra” translate to dwelling and science, respectively. Vastu shastra harnesses powerful cosmic energies to construct your living space into a bright and healthy place. Vastu might sound similar to Feng Shui, but Vastu is thousands of years older and has critical differences.
The primary contrast between Vastu and Feng Shui is that the former is based around science while the latter focuses more on geography. Feng Shui also has more to do with increasing positive energy around your home, and Vastu is about building a house that abides by its tenants.
Vastu dictates that internal stairs should never be in the center of a house. Stairs shouldn’t end or start near the kitchen, storeroom, or pooja room (if you have one). You shouldn’t put stairs anywhere that visitors can immediately spot them either. Your basement stairs aren’t supposed to connect to the main ones above ground.
It’s okay (advised, actually) that staircases are near the entrance – just out of view, mind you. East, north, and west-facing homes can have stairs in the southwest, south, and west. If your home is facing south, then place the staircase in the south, south-east, or west and north-west portions of your domicile.
If you’re interested in renting out rooms, try to keep them away from the stairs. It’s believed that doorways leading to rented rooms by staircases can lead to financial loss.
Vastu shastra technically falls under “Ideas for moving your stairs” as it involves specific locations to put your newly completed staircase. Vastu is more about maximizing the good energy in your life. The ideas I’m about to mention can make you feel great, but they’re primarily about your stairs not looking bad.
According to good design rules, you can move your stairs to the middle of the house or against an exterior wall. (Yes, this does contradict Vastu.) Putting the stairs by the wall provides the opportunity for windows, but only in larger homes. Smaller places can’t accommodate the stairs and windows by exterior walls.
Stairs should be proportionate to the size of your house. You can utilize underneath the staircase for storage which also happens to be a tenant of Vastu. If you intend to add large landings to your relocated stairs, you can use them as reading nooks to maximize space usage.
If you’ve got an open and airy foyer, consider putting your stairs in front of the door—the rules of Feng Shui state that this allows qi to enter and move around your home quickly. Conversely, closed-off foyers leading into stairs constrict qi and prevent it from flowing.
It’s possible to move stairs in your home, but it’s not something you should do at the spur of the moment. You should find a professional contractor to handle relocating your staircase if essential load-bearing portions of your house need moving. You can DIY moving stairs, but it can be an arduous task.
If you’re moving stairs in the UK, you won’t need planning permission, but North America requires building permits before moving stairs. You can spend up to $2000 (or more) moving your stairs, although the costs differ depending on materials used, the workers hired, and location.