Stair return barrier - building regs

I have a staircase that turns at the bottom with fan steps. The main staircase steps leading down to the fan return used to face a wall but this wall has been removed to extend the hall. There is now a 24 inch drop to the floor from the fan skirting.

I presume there are building regulations that stipulate a barrier to be at the end of the stairs. What should be the minimum height and width of this barrier. Does the barrier need to run across the total width of the staircase or can it be less?

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Jun 16, 2011
How to finish the bottom of a winder flight of stairs
by: Gary


The building inspector will indeed expect a barrier at the bottom of your staircase to stop someone plummeting over the edge if they (or you) fall down the stairs.

You are also supposed to have a continuous hand rail from the bottom of the staircase to the top - for support.

I've attached a picture of some oak stairs I fitted that has kite/winder shape treads like you've described. There is a half newel fitted to the wall with a handrail down to the post at the bottom. The handrail needs to be a minimum of 900mm above the pitch line, I'd go 920mm to allow for carpet. To find the pitch line put a straight piece of timber on top of the treads, so it touches the front of each nosing. The underside of that timber is the pitch line.

Spindles need to be no more than 100mm apart at the widest point so a small child can't poke their head through and then strangle themselves. Figure how to calculate the amount of spindles needed here.

That would satisfy the building regulations where I live in the UK, call your local building inspector to double check before you start the work.



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