What is the "fix"?

Not the first time I’ve seen this. I usually see them on 100 yr old plus farmhouses, as was the case with this one.

I know it’s a “trip/fall” hazard, but I can’t think of a valid way to correct it. My client asked me how to correct it since he has 3 small kids.

My first thought was to move walls/doorways back to give more room for the landing at the top, but that’s not feasible, especially if one wants to keep the character of the old farm house.

What do you guys write up when you see this, other than “trip hazard at top of stairs?”


Obviously a poor design. I suppose an additional set of steps could be constructed on top of the existing steps, this way the top landing could end flush with the wall/door opening. Not sure how it end at the bottom.

Thanks Gary. A poor design indeed, but I’m guessing the steps were put in later, as it appears about every room was added to an original design. The upstairs was likely only an attic originally, but I can only speculate.

One of my thoughts was to possibly redesign the stairs, but they would likely be really steep. Another was to put a staircase somewhere else, but as I explained to my client, that’s a job for an architect, not a lowly homie! :mrgreen:

One more question on the same old farmhouse. There is a newer metal roof on it. My guess is that they took off the sheathing off, left some of the old original planking, and installed the metal roof with 6 or 8 inch gaps between the old planks. Does this compromise the integrity of the roof?



I see it from time to time only on the old houses. I just inform the client of the possible issue, and then let them know that there is no cheap way to deal with it.

I guess he could act like a warden, and only let the kids out of their locked room for one hour a day.

I suppose there are a lot of possible scenarios to a better solution, and of course how much are you willing to spend.

Really nothing you can do, people lived like that back when and they just got used to it.

Stair layout changes are invasive carpentry and the minute you put a hammer to it you just bought the new code. I’d just say it is what it is unless your ready to make a substantial investment to change the stairs out.

Paul is right. I see this all the time in old old homes which I inspect a lot of. If they like the house they will have to learn to live with the irregularities (charm and character) of an old home. Stairs stand out as the obvious offenders in a lot of older homes but the fix is not simple and sometimes not even possible, between proper rise and run, headroom requirements and landing size requirements it is often not possible to correct a condition like the one in the photo without rebuilding half of the house.

Point it out and move on - don’t try to fix it for them it is something that is going to come back to bite you later.

Since a handrail needs to be installed anyway, use the design to assist the problem…

Great idea in most cases, Jeff, and that would definitely work and solve the problem.

Then the problem would be getting through the created 14 or 16 inch opening to the bedrooms :wink:

Your concern was for the children. Do you honestly think the kids give a rats arse? They don’t have a belly like you yet to worry about squeezing through! :twisted:

lol, you are correct, but aside from their belly, they may wish to put a bed or a dresser in their bedroom one day! :mrgreen:


  1. Purchase home
  2. Move in
  3. Hire contractor to install custom handrails
  4. Prepare to sell home when kids bellies get too ‘full’


PS… that extra 6 inches only matters to your wife!

Oh, S-N-A-P !!!


Back set the door…
Or better yet! Let your mother-in-law stay in that room …

oh, you’ve been talking to her?

We both agree I’m only 2 inches from being a great man…or great woman! :mrgreen:

I like your thinking, Roy.

Problem is, even at 72, my mother in law is probably more agile than me!! :smiley:


good one