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ninghai 01-05-2010 05:39 PM

building code for basement 2nd staircase
i am in Cambridge, MA.

i have a basement that already have a staircase connecting to 1st floor. i want to build a 2nd stair on the other side of the basement that goes directly out to the yard. the grade is about 6' above my basement floor. but i have very limited head room to work with. i already have an exterior door in place where the egress will be (don't ask me why, it is an old home). i did some calculation and found out that i will defintely bump my head against the ceiling before reaching the door. the lowest head height will be something like 4'.

what is the code requirement for building a stair like this considering this is NOT the main egress?


Scuba_Dave 01-05-2010 05:46 PM

6' 8" is the Min head room as far as I know, doesn't matter if it is the Main egress

4' is not enough, not sure if you can put stairs in
Some older homes have smaller doors for access
I've never seen a smaller door on a new home

When adding on you need to meet current codes

ninghai 01-05-2010 05:59 PM

so what are my options? i can put a ladder there but i don't see how that is safer than a stair even if you have to duck.

HooKooDooKu 01-06-2010 04:20 PM

Sounds like you need to build some of those old-fashion celler doors... you know, the ones where you have a pair of doors that open UP...

Of course that's going to require cutting a hole in the wall and digging into the grade, but the basic idea is to move the stair case to the outside of the wall (or at least start it closer to the wall) so that you can maintain proper headroom.

Scuba_Dave 01-06-2010 04:36 PM

Yup, you need to dig down far enough to put in a staircase that meets code

Do you have a picture of the area inside & out ?

HooKooDooKu 01-06-2010 04:54 PM

Another option, if you want to go some sort of ladder, is to look into building codes regarding egress. The basic idea is to have an egress window. Code stipulates the need for ladders depending upon the situation of an egress window (though usually a ladder will be on the outside of a window with the window installed in a window well below grade... so that option might still require cutting into the wall).

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