Replacing a staircase involves meeting Building Regulations, possibly Listed Building Consent, as well as a careful consideration of the stair design and the space you have to work with
Image: Taran Wilkhu
A well designed and beautiful staircase sets the tone for your entire home. Even the simplest design is a feature of engineering but the most inventive designs take your breath away. When you want to remove an existing stair, there are certain key points to bear in mind at the planning stage.
Architect Dan Marks, founding director at Mata Architects, outlines important factors to consider when replacing a staircase in your home
1. Building regulations
Particularly in period homes, it is likely that the existing stairs do not meet current Building Regulations so that means that a like-for-like replacement won’t either, especially if it’s in a restricted space. Instead, try a new staircase in the same place as this shouldn’t be a problem because you’re working within a set of given constraints that can’t be changed.
This staircase, designed by Bisca, has an oval shaped handrail and a feature newel. Image: Jake Fitz Jones
2. Relocating the stairs
If you opt to change the location of your stairs, make sure this also meets Building Regulations. It is possible for dispensations can be made in extraordinary instances, but I recommend erring on the side of caution. Involve an approved inspector early on in the design process to comment on any evolving plans so they can identify any grounds for a relaxation on the regulations.
This climbing frame staircase, created by Deferrari + Modesti, is fitted with teak treads at the lower level. Image: Anna Postiano
3. Listed building consent
Any modifications to a listed building require Listed Building Consent. Whether a staircase in a listed building can be modified or relocated depends on why it’s listed and the staircase’s contribution to the overall heritage value. Consider commissioning a heritage assessment to identify this. A pre-planning application consultation with the local authority could flesh it out as well.
As part of the development of a 19th century house in Camberwell, David Money Architects dispensed with the corridor behind the original staircase and positioned the replacement against the party wall. Image: Taran Wilkhu
4. Mixing old and new
Consider setting a contemporary design against historic building features and materials. This celebrates the juxtaposition of old and new, so the combination should create something greater than the sum of its parts. An modern design such as cantilevered stairs can prove expensive, so if you’re on a budget consider off the shelf solutions. You can buy entire stairs prefabricated out of concrete, for instance.
This staircase from Mata Architects has a square hollow section steel balustrade and handrail with built-in joinery below. Image: Anna Stathaki
5. Layout improvements
Repositioning the staircase is worth considering as it could create a more efficient layout in the property. A recent mews project relocated the stairs from the back wall to sit centrally and a large rooflight was inserted above it. This improved the layout of both floors with the stairs punctuating the open-plan kitchen and living areas.
This bespoke staircase from Grey Griffiths Architects with perforated risers allows daylight to flood the hallway. Image: Adam Scott