Staircraft

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

How much will this staircase cost me?

What is the difference between a quote, an estimate, a bid, and a proposal?

Do I need to hire an architect or designer to draft the design for my staircase?

May I design/draft my own staircase?

Are building permits required to do my stair work?

How soon can you start my staircase project?

How long will it take to complete my staircase project once you start building?

Can my family remain living in the house during my remodel project?

What are those spindle thingies on a staircase called again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much will this staircase cost me?

Typical costs are anything but typical and include many variables.  An average new custom straight staircase project within 40 miles of my office employing the most commonly chosen materials has a price range of  $6,000-$11,000.  In 2006 , I completely remodeled a staircase for under $3,500 with a little demolition help from the homeowner who displayed a talent for this type of work.  More elaborate custom projects may exceed $20,000 depending on the scope of work and materials employed.  Allow me to design a staircase with you to fit your budget and your desires.  I will give you a written estimate that is very detailed & accurate based on the established design.  Estimates are always free.
More about estimates

What is the difference between a quote, an estimate, a bid, and a proposal?

The differences are mostly semantics, and in the construction trades, the use of these terms are often used interchangeably to convey the same basic concept.  There are some distinct differences, and in the interest of clear communication knowing the connotation of these terms as they apply to this trade are important.  A quote (or quotation) is a term that relates to an exact material price at a given time.  Because lumber products are a traded commodity these costs will fluctuate with seasonal demand and availability.  A quote in this trade is an established firm price for material orders placed within a window of opportunity generally limited to 30 days.  An estimate relates to combined project costs of materials and labor.  Because these estimates will include quoted material prices, they are also limited to the same snapshot in time as the quotations. In a nutshell...suppliers and lumber yards will quote material prices to a contractor who estimates overall project costs.  Estimates are perceived as an approximation of expected costs for something that has not been done yet.  An experienced contractor takes an educated guess at the amount of time it will take to complete a series of tasks considering a multitude of environmental and external variables that can change.  Anticipated or forecasted expenses are manipulated by weather, fuel costs, tax and insurance costs along with a myriad of site specific unknowns that can fluctuate daily.  Each job is analyzed on an individual basis according to these perceived variables, an in-depth labor calculation, and all fixed expenses associated with that project.  Estimates are an art, not a science.  The term bid in this line of work implies a summary of costs on a large project by a general contractor involving several estimates from several specialized sub-contractors all working toward the same common goal for that lead contractor who orchestrates or manages the entire project.  Bids are like the art gallery that displays the estimated work of many artisans.  A proposal can involve many things, but in this business of stair building a proposal is the summary presentation to the client or customer of the detailed estimate (including all quotes), drawings that clarify the project, and a contract that includes the general written scope of the work proposed.
More about estimates

Do I need to hire an architect or designer to draft the design for my staircase?

Smooth flowing progress on any project requires thorough planning and clear communication.  I provide all of the needed (CAD) drafting and design work as a comprehensive service in addition to my fine staircase construction.  You may hire a 3rd party professional for this service, but rarely is it needed, or even beneficial when pertaining only to a staircase.  Most architects and home designers focus on the big picture of full residential construction projects and omit the detailed minutiae needed to completely design a staircase including the exact components proposed.  I often work directly with architects to satisfy these needs for my clients when an architect is employed.  My expertise in both fields (design and construction) means that you can eliminate 3rd party communication errors saving both time and money.

I routinely provide this drafting and design service to other stair builders, contractors, architects, and homeowners.   The only "out-sourcing" in regard to design is strictly for structural engineering if required for a building department's permit approval.  Preliminary in-home design consultation to establish a budget and determine an estimate of all of my services is a part of the free estimate that I provide to you. If additional drafting and design work is needed on your project this cost will be included in your estimate of construction costs as a separate line item.   Both estimates and designs are printed to a variety of user friendly digital formats (usually *.pdf) to make them as quick to view as this FAQs page on your computer screen via email attachments anywhere in the world.

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May I design/draft my own staircase?

Certainly!  It's a simple matter of knowing how.  If you know how already, then by all means, jump in.  If not,  then anyone can learn to to do anything with good instructions, enough time, and a desire to learn.   Several clients have designed some amazing works of art in their homes.  Technically every client designs their own staircase in one aspect;  eventually, everyone has to communicate the vision they have for their stairs.   Fine staircase design and construction is all about the details. Every detail matters.  In the process of drafting a plan for that vision, the finer details that make a great design come together are more clearly defined.
Metaphorically speaking,  You can leave all of the driving to me,  but I will need to know where you want to go.  Your efforts to produce a road map will greatly enhance my ability to arrive at the intended destination.  Some specific knowledge (driving rules and regulations) and tools of the trade (vehicle, license, insurance, fuel) are needed for the drive. To reach any destination, you need to know exactly where you want to go, the best route to take, and the arrival time desired.  Developing a good stair plan is no different in these regards than route planning a drive across town. 
-  The real fun is in the journey.  This website was designed to assist anyone in that journey.
 
The time you invest educating yourself on the building codes, terminology, and some drafting tools will not only ensure that your staircase becomes exactly what you conceived, but allows you to communicate your concepts effectively with others.

Some great computer drafting/design tools for designing staircases makes light work of some of the more difficult or time consuming tasks.
► For generating the math data needed to draft a staircase, this MS Excel stair stringer calculator spreadsheet is available for download at  http://www.shalla.net/  and will easily and quickly provide the dimensions needed for the basic structural drafting.  Easy step by step instructions,  and a big time saver.... for less than the cost of a pizza!

► For creating a conceptual digital 3d full scale (virtual life size) model of your staircase (or designing anything you can imagine) you can't beat the price on this full function easy to learn computer modeling program called SketchUp.  http://www.sketchup.com/  It's FREE, and it's easy, ...my kind of design tool!   It should come with a warning about it's addictive attributes.  Like a good book,  this one is hard to set down.  The standard program version is truly free, no strings, no registration, no spam, and not a limited trial version.  Great on-line video tutorials, and the program's help files will get you up to speed in a few hours.

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Are building permits required to do my stair work?

Maybe. It depends on the scope of the project, and many laws that the local jurisdiction enforces where the project is located .  The local building official may be the only determining factor as to the legal course of action required.  In most cases with new stair construction projects the permits are already obtained as a part of the whole house construction permit.  In the case of a staircase remodel project, this is mostly determined by what is being effected in the construction process.  Any time that structural modifications to any part of your home are needed, a permit is required.  With any alteration of a legal egress (typically a fire exit path) the adopted codes in a given jurisdiction require a permit be obtained.  Non-structural changes without altering the egress,  implies this type of stair work may be performed with an exemption from permit requirements.  For example;  repair or replacement of an existing balustrade or finished tread surfaces, with an equivalent product that meets or exceeds the code usually does not require obtaining a permit.  If a permit is required, I will include this information with my estimate and offer my services to be your agent at the building department.  More information on safe, legal stair design and code requirements.

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How soon can you start my staircase project?

Depending on the materials chosen and shipping times associated with those materials, a typical start date can be as little as 1 week from the order date, to as long as 8 weeks.  The average staircase site work start date is 4 weeks from the material order date. 

The proper sequence of events:

  1. You call or email Staircraft and set an appointment for FREE in-home design consultation.

  2. Preliminary design (s) and FREE detailed estimate (s) prepared and emailed or mailed to you ASAP.

  3. You reply or call with a big YES!

  4. Approved, completed design and final estimate / proposed critical path to project completion determined/ job site logistics analyzed / estimate a start date / contract drafted.

  5. Contract signatures / deposit payment (required for material order).

  6. Order all needed materials / permits applied for and obtained (if needed).

  7. Upon order confirmation and proposed material delivery dates I will review estimated start date.

  8. Material delivery-  I will confirm the start date / confirm critical path and daily schedule.

  9. Complete project = contractual scope of work completed on time and on budget!

  10. Giant smile appears on your face! (You feel compelled to perform the optional "happy dance" :>)

  11. Final invoice/ statement for remaining balance due sent to you and paid. (then I do the happy dance)

  12. Preliminary designs and estimates for all of your friends when you tell them how pleased you are with Staircraft.
     

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How long will it take to complete my staircase project once you start building?

Once a design is established and all of the materials are chosen, part of the design/estimating process is determining a critical path to completion.  I need to understand the "what I'm building"  before the "how long it will take" can be determined.  I can often make an educated guess during a 5 minute phone call.  There are many variables that can alter the duration of a project, but the typical new construction staircase site work is anywhere from 3 to 10 days. A curved staircase can add 2-4 days. The average staircase remodel work may require 30% to 50% more site work due to the added tasks of protecting surrounding finishes, dust prevention measures, demolition...etc.

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Can my family remain living in the house during my remodel project?

90% of all homeowners remain in the home for the duration.  Every project is different, but in most staircase remodel projects at some point during the job, the staircase is off-limits to the occupants of the home (and other trades people).  During the construction process where a guard rail is removed to make room for a new one, there is an inherent danger to your family.  On most projects when only one staircase serves the upper level of a home, the time between the demolition and reconstruction poses the greatest risks to those who remain in the home.  I can provide temporary guard rails at night, and coordinate the effort around your schedule.  However, people and pets should avoid the area during construction as much as possible for their safety. 

I make every effort to limit your family's exposure to the noise, dust, and hazards associated with my construction work.  Some clients see "remodel time" as a perfect opportunity to plan a vacation.  I am experienced in this process and insured.  I will handle all of the construction details if you would prefer to spend this time in Disneyland, or sipping a drink with an umbrella in it while relaxing on a beach in the Bahamas.  Advanced thorough planning will  make your overall remodel project a rewarding experience.  

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What are the spindle thingies on a staircase called again?

On the inside of a building those are called balusters, on the exterior of a building they are called spindles or pickets. You can call them whatever you want...I'll understand you.   For additional component name definitions and answers to specific questions to the construction of a staircase see:   Anatomy of a Staircase

 

Please feel free to call or email, with any questions you may have.   Contact information

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Staircraft