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  1. #1
    Art Zwoman's Avatar
    Art Zwoman Guest

    Default Sunken Closet and stairs leading to it

    I am in the midst of a remodeling plan and I have questions about it regarding putting in a sunken closet.

    I would like to turn a previously unused area in a master bedroom into a closet. However, the roof above that unused area is lower than the bedroom ceiling (the trusses are right there and there is no attic space). I would like to get around the limitations of the lower ceiling by sinking the floor and putting in two steps going down to the closet floor. There is plenty of room in the basement below.

    My questions are:
    1) Is there any reason I cannot put in a sunken closet (design-wise, code-wise or other-wise)?
    2) What is the minimum distance for headroom from stairs to the top of the door frame and how is it determined? I don't want anyone hitting their head as they enter the sunken closet.
    3) I believe I need a minimum width for the stairs of 36". However, the door I'm planning on putting in is 32". Is this correct, or do you foresee any problem with this?
    4) Is a handrail required for the two steps going down into the sunken closet?
    5) The plan is to put a short wall next to the stairs to prevent anyone from accidentally stepping into the stairs from the side. Are there any requirements for that wall placement (distance from stairs, how far out into the room it should project, etc)?
    6) Is there anything else to consider that I may not have mentioned?

    Thank you for your time and anticipated responses.
    Art Z

    P.S. My antiquated remodeling software does not allow me to save different views of the plan in an allowable format for posting pics on this forum. The only format is Adobe Reader format. I can email the pics to anyone that is interested in seeing them.

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    Last edited by Art Zwoman; 07-31-2011 at 12:52 AM. Reason: pics didn't upload
    Certified Master Inspector CMI

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Knoxville, TN

    Default Re: Sunken Closet and stairs leading to it

    Totally re-doing the floor/ceiling system in that area when you lower the floor.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Southern Vancouver Island

    Default Re: Sunken Closet and stairs leading to it

    Two steps down, no need for a handrail. But you want the door to swing into the bedroom, not over the stairs.
    It sounds a little inconvenient. Maybe a robot could hand clothes up to you?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Atlanta, Georgia

    Default Re: Sunken Closet and stairs leading to it

    6'8" headroom over any part of the stairs and door opening.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  5. #5
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Sunken Closet and stairs leading to it

    Can you do it, sure. Stairs, sure. No hand rail. The only thing you need to do is hire an engineer to draw up some plans for the seriously structural work you are adventuring into. There is a whole lot more to it than you think. Oh yeah. A permit but you cannot pull that until you have the engineering stamp on some structural plan.

  6. #6
    Art Zwoman's Avatar
    Art Zwoman Guest

    Default Re: Sunken Closet and stairs leading to it

    Thanks for the multiple replies. The info is appreciated.
    Specific responses to your comments are as follows:
    To Ted - Yes, I'm working on that by doing my homework first
    To Bruce - Is it 6'8" clearance from stair tread edge to top of door frame opening?
    To John - U R funny (where does one get a robot like that?)! BTW, the door will be at the bottom of the 2 stairs and swing into the closet
    To Jack - I'm a little confused by your response. Could you elaborate?


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