Poorly designed house. Need some advice - Posted by Brian_wa

Posted by John Corey on April 26, 2006 at 19:38:01:

Great idea Clint.

I had a place with two spiral staircases. They were fine when I lived here for 2 years.

Do consider what the rooms will be used for and if furniture needs to be carried up or down. Is the opening wide enough when the stairs are installed? Is there another access point that can be used when moving larger items?

With the property I owned I put an extra wide staircase in one location (2 people could pass each other easily). For the other room we did not need anything too wide. The one time we lifted something large we got an externally ladder and pushed the item up the ladder (in the house). Sort of like a slide that you push things up.

Some parents will have issues if they have small children. They can get a gate or similar but it might still deter some people from making an offer. I also had other people who became a bit nervous on the stairs. Something about a fear of heights. Much less of an issue when they used the wide spiral than the narrow (‘normal width’) spiral.

The stairs were metal. They did not cost that much at all and looked very good. I want to say the price was something like $5K to $10K but that is translated from Pounds Sterling and the property was in London England.

John Corey

Poorly designed house. Need some advice - Posted by Brian_wa

Posted by Brian_wa on April 26, 2006 at 12:01:38:

I bought a house about 4 months ago and have already rehabbed it. It’s a 1400SF rambler with a basement. Each level is 700SF. The main level has 2 bedrooms and the full basement has 1 bedroom. The house is currently listed and I’m pricing it very competitively. It has generated a lot of traffic based on what the neighbor told me and also based on the shear number of realtor cards left at the house.

However, I haven’t got a good offer and I know the problem is because of the fact that there are no stairs going down the basement from inside the house. The only way to get down is through the uncovered stairs outside the house and people are deterred by it.

I could put a stair in one of the bedroom on the main level and convert it into a Study but not sure whether that’s a good idea or not. Covering the outside stairs maybe too much work.

Any idea?

I bought this house subject-2 for $175k and have spent about 20k fixing it up. There is a pre-payment penalty which will expire the end of June and would result in the purchased price being only $170k. I’m doing an Open Listing at $249k. I anticipated making about 40k off this deal but this amount will go down due to the house’s shortcoming.

I’m not motivated and not worried as I do have a lot of capital. I just want some good insights to see what kind of options are available.

Thank you for your help.


Re: Poorly designed house. Need some advice - Posted by John Corey

Posted by John Corey on April 26, 2006 at 19:38:50:


I have no idea what the place looks like so take this as a random idea.

What would it take to enclose the present staircase and otherwise make it part of the interior?

John Corey

Re: Poorly designed house. Need some advice - Posted by approaches

Posted by approaches on April 26, 2006 at 19:37:40:

Tough one. Sounds like a prob to have addressed right from the start…but hindsight is always 20/20.

How much will you lose in value going from a 3br to a 2br by eliminating one of the BRs upstairs? Can you add another BR downstairs? Myself, I’d try not to eliminate any BRs on the main floor. Isn’t there any other part of the house you could use to access the bsmt. such as part of the LR or a combination of parts of 2 rooms? Perhaps you could install a spiral staircase that would not take up as much floor space. Or the covered outside stairs may be the only good resolution. Figure the cost vs selling at a lower price.

You could also approach things differently. Turn the perceived problem into a PLUS. It’s all in the marketing. Right now it’s probably advertised as a normal 3br and people are disappointed when they see the lack of stairs. Instead, appeal to a different market segment that only needs 2 BRs but would be interested in extra income from a potential 700sf ADU/mother-in-law unit. (you don’t say how many baths you have) Or appeal to someone who is looking for separate living space for say a college student living at home or for extended family members. I don’t know how much of a cut you’d take in comparison, but it may sell the place more easily.

Advice… - Posted by Clint

Posted by Clint on April 26, 2006 at 18:24:04:


Seen this done, Spiral staircase! takes up less than 12 square foot of space out of a corner to go downstairs, (did it in my inlaws house) worked out well, and there’s the ‘romance’ of having a spiral staircase… (all iron works well)

Good Luck!