Reframing the Stairs-Where the Old Meets the New!

It’s time to do some framing work to attach the old part of the house to the new construction.

The stairs in this photo were the stairs that led to the attic in the original house. Now they lead up to the new master bedroom wing. They’re the wrong pitch and therefore need to be replaced with new stringers and oak treads.

When we walk upstairs, the balcony overlooking the living room is immediately on the right.

Here’s the view at the top of the stairs. Having these two big windows high up and facing south heats up the vaulted ceiling. It’s very toasty. John insulated the house so well that the thermostat is set at 53!!!!!!! Unimaginable, but true.

This is the one area where John had to wait to hang the drywall because of the framing that needs to be done first. To the left is the original hall bathroom. The plumbing is complete and the vanity will be where the paint pan is on the floor.

Yesterday, John removed the stairs which left a gaping hole/8ft drop leading down to the main level/living room and directly below is another set of stairs leading to the mudroom level. There are 5 levels to the house including the basement.

I asked John how much the stairs weigh and he said about 100 to 110 lbs.

This is another big project. It crosses our minds everyday how much it would cost to pay someone to do these jobs that John does on his own. Imagine the cost in restoring Grey Gardens?  And did you see the gorgeous garden and landscaping?

I took this photo standing in the living room and looking up to where the stairs had been removed. Below me is the floor with the mudroom, a “bonus room” as well as the entrance into the garage.

The first thing John had to do is connect the old part of the house with 2x4s and blocks of 2×10 framing.

He made new stringers over a year ago so that the stairs will have the correct pitch. This is another good winter project, however not exactly a fun project. Believe me, if we had the luxury of hiring a good carpenter, we would.

When people ask me, “Would you ever do this extensive renovation/rebuild again?” I say “No.” Once is enough but doing it a second time, there would be no reason (for us). When this house is finished, it’s our house to live in, and there’s no reason to do it again. But, I guess my point is that once is enough but definitely worth it in the long run.

Of course, having fire extinguishers throughout the house is mandatory. John said to me the other day, “Sue, I should have you practice using one of the fire extinguishers.” I said, “Yeah, I’ve been practicing using them at recurrent training, at my job, every year for the last 20 years.”

It’s actually kind of fun. I have to put on a PBE (Personal Breathing Equipment) and enter a small room where there’s a flame. I aim the fire extinguisher at it, press the handle and extinguish it.

Back to the stairs–there’s a total of three stringers. One is dead center.

Where the old framing meets the new, John had to cut it away  with the sawzall because it was jagged. Once he finishes the framing, he’ll hang the drywall, spackle, sand, prime and paint. And install the new treads for a perfectly pitched staircase.

It will be a treat to walk up stairs normally, up until now, it’s been awkward.

John just took this photo at 11:50am (this morning).

Followed by this one with a constant parade of clouds floating by.

9 thoughts on “Reframing the Stairs-Where the Old Meets the New!

  1. I’m glad you mentioned the fire extinguishers as to few have them and there’s a lot of folks who don’t have smoke detectors as well. I know one couple that have a 4-level home and have had two fires and yet they are not the least motivated to buy smoke detectors because they don’t want to spend the money for them, though they can afford them.

    Interesting as well is discovering most folks don’t know how to put out a grease fire on the kitchen stove and stranger still that there are many who don’t know how to cook and eat fast food for all meals.

    Yet it does make one wonder if this is the prelude to living in space colonies where someone else will cook and all anyone needs is a cubical to rest and use their computers for work and play.

  2. Are the steps deep and not too high? We recently visited a home where the people could no longer get up the steps because they were too high and the depth of the step was too narrow. I suspect they were “standard” but you might look at making the steps more shallow so there’s not as high a leg lift.

    1. The steps are actually too shallow and the pitch is off making it unsafe to walk up or down. I always walked down them at an angle holding onto the 2x4s.

  3. That lamp/table appears over and over in your pictures.Who would have thought it would be invaluable? Maybe when you are done it will find another use!

  4. That one photo shows the pitch of the old stairs very well. Yes, quite obvious the pitch is not only no longer to code but a killer climb. Reminds me of the old houses in Europe. My Aunt’s house had a stairway like that. It was like climbing the Alps, and narrow to boot.

    Stairs are an art. Lots of math involved to get the pitch just right. My Dad added on to the house and he doubled up both sides so the middle one wasn’t needed so their new stairway was open in the middle. Then each tread was also doubled up and when the carpet was laid they wrapped each tread. So it’s open and you can see into the living room. He had extra treads left over and I put some in my attic as I have two levels in there and was tired of climbing up the two feet to the second level. I have two little stairs ways on each side. Of course I messed up the math so they aren’t perfect but I don’t care. They’re shallow and easy to step up and down the two levels.

    Living in construction is hard. I grew up that way. My Dad started adding on to the house when I was just graduating from elementary school. It went out through junior high, high school and into college. Some parts weren’t complete for decades. I don’t think they ever had a final inspection because then the house would be reassessed and the property taxes go up. The last room finally got carpet a few years ago. It was slow because my Dad did a lot of work himself in addition to his full time job. That meant evenings and weekends for years, a little bit at a time. But they doubled the square footage of the house and got a lot of things customized to their liking.

    As much as my Mom complains about working in the garden or cleaning, she refuses to move. I feel that way too. I’ve customized some things in my house to my comfort and liking and I have no desire to live anywhere else. Yes, it’s inconvenient to live in a construction zone, but once it’s done, you forget that and bask in the comfort of what you have created. The bond strengthens.

    They spent $600,000 renovating Grey Gardens after they purchased it for $220,000. But that was 1976. Money well spent and when they were done they still spent way under market value. They lived in it for 35 years until he passed away. I’m sure some of that love is centered in looking around at was is and remembering what was. That binds you to a place.

    1. Agree!
      When doing extensive work yourself it takes forever. And then I’ll drive by a house that has been fully restored and made picture perfect in under a year. But some people with a big budget rush in getting it all done. I like the idea that we’re going to decorate one room at a time. It will be exactly the way we want it and we can gradually add things to each room. It will just be an ongoing work in progress.

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