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Old 10-26-2011, 08:15 PM   #1
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Half wall where stairs are?


I'm renovating my first home at the moment, and I'd really like to open up the small kitchen to the dining room area, but the wall between them is where the basement stairs are. I'm concerned for heating purposes, though I would certainly put door down the bottom of the steps as opposed to the top. Has anyone done this, with good results? Any horror stories or strong suggestions to avoid this?

I'll attach a few pictures of what I'm working with...





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Last edited by Cow 9; 10-26-2011 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 10-26-2011, 09:13 PM   #2
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Half wall where stairs are?


Welcome back Cow 9.

I like the idea, the walls don’t appear to be load bearing but you will still likely need a permit.

Have a local drafting/design firm take a look and develop a workable plan so you can proceed.

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Old 10-26-2011, 09:30 PM   #3
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Half wall where stairs are?


I like your idea as well.....but....I'm inclined to think they are most likely load bearing. You need to have a look in the attic to see which way the ceiling or floor joists are going. If they intersect the stairway perpendicular...they are most likely load bearing....if they run parallel, then less chance they are load bearing.

Even if they are load bearing....not a big deal to over come....you will just need posts at each end along with a beam. Done right, the posts can add a nice touch.

It's worth the time and money to consult an engineer. You will need permits and they will most likely not approve them without engineering.
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Old 10-26-2011, 09:30 PM   #4
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Half wall where stairs are?


Thanks kwikfishron and ddawg. The wall is indeed not load bearing, based off the support posts in the basement.

I'm new to this, but I was unaware you needed a permit for doing something like this. Why is a firm needed?
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Old 10-26-2011, 09:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cow 9 View Post
I'm renovating my first home at the moment, and I'd really like to open up the small kitchen to the dining room area, but the wall between them is where the basement stairs are. I'm concerned for heating purposes, though I would certainly put door down the bottom of the steps as opposed to the top. Has anyone done this, with good results? Any horror stories or strong suggestions to avoid this?

I'll attach a few pictures of what I'm working with...




If you remove those walls, there will be no point putting a door at the bottom of the stairs to stop heat loss, as the stairs will no longer go anywhere. You might want to consider how you will get into the basement if seal up the stairs.
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:29 AM   #6
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I'm new to this, but I was unaware you needed a permit for doing something like this. Why is a firm needed?
Go down (in person) to your local building department with your picture and ask. It should be no big deal but it will cover your arse in the future.

You will likely need a drawing of what you propose to do. If you can do it and include everything they need to see then great. If not then hire a draftsman to draw it for you.
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:32 AM   #7
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If you remove those walls, there will be no point putting a door at the bottom of the stairs to stop heat loss, as the stairs will no longer go anywhere. You might want to consider how you will get into the basement if seal up the stairs.
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. I'm not blocking off the staircase at either end.

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Here's my two cents. Make the kitchen a half wall. This will allow you to keep the current floor heat and electrical outlets in the kitchen. Remove the wall on the dining room side and put a nice hand rail and decorative spindles (remember to keep those spindles close together so babies and toddlers can't get heads caught...I think it is 4" or less). You should be able to relocate that dimmer for the dining light/fan to the outside wall next to the two current switches near to the exterior door. With this scenario you'll have opened the space nicely to give the kitchen and dining room a larger feel, but it will still seem as if each room has a sparate purpose. If someone is heading down to or up from the basement they are welcomed into the "social" room rather than the "task" room. Yep, put the door at the base of the stairs. Posts in the basement may not tell you the full story on load bearing walls...ddawg16 makes some good suggestions in first paragraph of "his"? post. Not completely sure an engineer is needed here, but pulling permits may be a good idea, since you may be moving electric and checking the status of the walls. Often those inspector folks can offer some good advice. Simply by the fact that you pulled permits they are more helpful...and a heck of a lot cheaper than and engineer!

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Thanks for the helpful post! I'll double check the load bearing in the attic. I like the idea with the posts, as well. I hadn't thought of that. I'll have to CAD model them both and see how it looks!
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by kwikfishron View Post
Go down (in person) to your local building department with your picture and ask. It should be no big deal but it will cover your arse in the future.

You will likely need a drawing of what you propose to do. If you can do it and include everything they need to see then great. If not then hire a draftsman to draw it for you.
Oh ok, perfect. I can draw something up for them, no problem. Thanks for the info.
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:38 AM   #9
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Oh ok, perfect. I can draw something up for them, no problem. Thanks for the info.
When you go down there they will likely give you a packet of information outlining everything you'll need to know.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:57 AM   #10
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Half wall where stairs are?


Hi, Cow9. I'm in the same situation you were in, with the basement stairs between my kitchen & dining room. I was wondering what you decided on, and if you have any updated pics to share? It's always inspiring to see others overcome obstacles.
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:17 PM   #11
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Half wall where stairs are?


Are you thinking a railing or 1/2 wall around the stairwell?
This will also affect your flooring and your ceiling.
Your ceiling looks textured and will have to be redone as it is impossible to patch textured ceiling and truly match it.

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