From Monte Leeper
D. Our house needs to be renovated and we hope to create more space. Our stairs to the basement and second floor are right in the middle of the house and block everything. They are also just a few meters from our front door. We are thinking we can save space by moving the stairs and reading what you wrote about the non-legal circular stairs (like main exit staircase). Is it possible to have an addition on the front or side of the house and how do you get to the upstairs hallway without missing a room? We want to have an open first floor after moving the stairs – this is our main goal. What should we do?
A. You have stared at the stairs and now you realize how complicated this change can be. Usually the best way to do this is to hire an architect who has the structural, construction, code and space planning knowledge to understand this, since every home and every property is slightly different.
The addition question leads to doing zoning analysis, which means taking your own survey of the property, which is hopefully readable and has backward distances and dimensions of the house. Many surveys lack this information or are illegible because they have been hand drawn or are old photocopies, but if they can be read, your building area only requires a certain amount of coverage of the lot area by the house and a front side and rear distance from the property boundaries that they must respect.
The next challenge is to accurately measure and produce floor plans of each floor so that you can work with the entire image. Moving the stairs means trying to keep the basement stairs under the second floor stairs to save space, as the two stairs work together. Rooms, closets and bathrooms are all to be looked at to see if the stairs can be joined to the upper and lower rooms from a different direction without altering the main plumbing system or significantly reducing the adjacent rooms. Building regulations dictate that there are minimum room sizes, especially bedrooms and corridors.
Whenever this type of work needs to be done, the whole project must include the main focus of the first floor living space, so kitchen extension, relocation of a dining room or elimination are considered of a living room, for example. This is generally not an easy process, because the structural system of beams and walls will be modified and all loads, from the roof to the basement, will still have to be solved through the existing or new pillars and beams that will need to be calculated. I often see where people started the planning process, sketching out ideas and realizing how complicated it can be. Until the entire image of each floor plan, structure, and codes are applied together, the final floor plan cannot be completely resolved. Good luck!
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