Domestic Building Regulation Basics

When you’re building a staircase, it’s a complicated procedure. This simple part of your house has a lot of regulations set out in section K of The Building Regulations. To better understand what you need to do, we will look at a few key points.

  1. Rise, going, and angle

These three things are the foundation of building a staircase. The rise, going, and angle defines the dimensions of the steps. The individual rise refers to the height of each individual step; the individual going refers to the width of each step; the angle is of the entire staircase. These three things have to be considered together to apply by building regulations. The minimum and maximum dimensions of these are:

  • Individual rise: Minimum 150mm – maximum 220mm
  • Individual going: Minimum 220mm – maximum 300mm
  • Pitch/Angle: Cannot be greater than 42 degrees.

In addition to this, there are also some more requirements. For example, all risers are required to be the same length, except when a staircase is separated by a landing. 

  1. Kite Winders

To save space, some people put staircases in corners and use kite winders. These affect the rules regarding the required going because of the angle. The most important rule to follow is that the winder treads must all be at least the same length as the straight treads. For example, if you have straight treads with a length of 250mm, the winder treads must at least be 250mm but they can be longer.

There are also rules regarding the width of the winding treads. These steps will be wider towards the wall and narrower towards the room. The narrowest part of the step must be a minimum of 50mm. 

  1. Width

There are actually no requirements regarding the width of a staircase, but this is generally based on accepted building practices. For example, a staircase going up to the first floor serving multiple rooms should be no less than 800mm wide. It is usually recommended to get a bit wider than this minimum so that you won’t have trouble carrying things up the stairs in the future. 

  1. Headroom

The minimum headroom is 2 metres. It’s important to note that this height is not measured from the stair, but from an invisible pitch line that is drawn across the front of all the stairs. Exceptions are made for loft conversions with sloping ceilings. 

  1. Landings

A landing is any flat section after stairs. To qualify as a landing, the width and length of the floor must be greater or equal to the narrowest part of the staircase. 

  1. Handrails & Balustrades

The position of the handrail is regulated between 900mm and 1000mm above the pitch line/floor. You don’t always have to use a handrail, but when there is a staircase with a drop of more than 600mm it is a requirement. Generally, this is between 2-3 steps. There are also rules regarding the gaps between spindles. A 100mm sphere should not be able to pass through any opening. 

You can use staircase designers to make sure that your stair design fits these regulations so you can be sure that your property is compliant with the law. Without following this guide, you could be at risk for additional costs or even worse you could devalue your property as any new potential buyer would need to pay for and carry out the changes themselves. 

The moral of the story here is to make sure that you get it right the first time.