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Getting Your Steps In

Hazys House Buying Tips #4 (Stairs)

Chances are if you ever got the opportunity to see an old large Victorian-style home you were impressed with the architecture. The overall ambiance of a Victorian is quite hard to match. After all, who doesn’t love a good turret? It’s kind of like living in a castle.

But, before you let your kids grab the shovels and start digging that moat, there are some things to consider before buying that big ole house with all those stairs. Continue reading to better understand some things to consider before staring down, or up all those stairs.

Staircase Reality Checks:

#1 Stairs are pretty normal:

Chances are when you’re shopping for your next home you will quickly realize that most homes on the market will have some stairs. Especially in Western Pennsylvania where the topography is anything but that of a pancake. Our rolling hills and scenic views often come with the reality that most homes were built up, not out. So be prepared to see stairs in most homes and be upfront with your Realtor if stairs are out of the question for you or someone else in your family.

#2 The number and style of stairs can make all the difference:

Writing about stairs can’t be done properly without at least mentioning the beloved spiral staircase. One look at a spiral staircase leading to a second-floor bedroom leaves one with a few questions. Such as, how in the world do you get a full bedroom set up a level when the only option presented is in the shape of a corkscrew?

Enough about those, but seriously, it is wise to consider the shape and general nature of any stairs in a home.

Split-level homes for instance often have shorter sets of stairs which may be easier to negotiate for people with relatively minor mobility concerns.

Then there is the aforementioned Victorian-style home which would simply be a no go for almost any mobility concerns.

Each home will be different and needs to be evaluated individually.

A simple thing you can do when walking the stairs in a home is to count the steps. After counting the steps consider what it would be like to walk up and down that number of steps a dozen or more times per day. If the mere thought of doing this daily turns your stomach, consider a home with fewer stairs.

#3 Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeek:

Steps that creek and in particular those that make cracking noises can be real concerns when checking out a home, These stairs don't have to be deal-breakers if you really like the rest of the home. Do make sure though to talk with your home inspector to try and better determine what the culprit is. It may simply be a sign that the oak treads are just old, but still trustworthy. Still, it could also be a sign of more serious concern. Either way, talk with your inspector and get some peace of mind.

#4 Snow and Ice:

It is wise to consider not just the stairs inside a home, but also any stairs exposed to the elements. Western Pennsylvania gets its fair share of winter weather. Snow and ice can quickly turn a few steps into a sore backside event. Consider what any steps on a property will be like when freezing rain and snow get a chance to stick.

#5 That beautiful staircase:

Not everything about stairs is a negative of course. A staircase is a practical necessity in many homes, but it can also be a thing of beauty. Many homes take these sets of steps and turn them into works of art. Some stairs, particularly in older homes, come adorned with fine woodworking in solid oak. These staircases are wonderful focal points to these homes and can really add to the overall enjoyment of a home. These types of staircases are where carpenters displayed their talents for all to see.

Take-Home Message:

Don’t be afraid to buy a house just because it has stairs. Take time to consider what those stairs will mean for you and the rest of your family. Some houses may have to be left for the next buyer if the stairs are simply too much for you. Others may be just right for you and will cause you very little concern as you enjoy your house for years to come.

Oh, and by the way, if you live in a home with a spiral staircase, let us know how it is you managed to get all your furniture up to that second floor!

Until next time.

Happy House Hunting!

-The Hazys

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