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Feedback: Stringent rules on staircases

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Many safety measures are often overlooked for the sake of aesthetics

Following from Mohammed’s question last week, Vivien has sent me this about noisy floors: Re soundproofing a floor, my friend had an upstairs with just the floorboards forming the ceiling downstairs, and you couldn’t so much as sneeze upstairs without it being heard around the house. 

So she put down rubber matting and then carpets and it’s much improved. Of course, there is no longer a nice wooden floor visible upstairs. And the building contractor fell down the stairs and broke an ankle in two places.

Other than that, it was a great success. This is not the first time I have heard about builders and staircases, and it is usually during the construction phase.

On the subject of staircases, there are stringent regulations around the design and safety measures required, many of which are often overlooked for the sake of aesthetics.

Treads and risers must be of certain dimensions and handrails are a must as is getting the angle correct. All too often I have seen the staircase being fitted into the opening, rather than the opening being designed around a safe staircase.

So, if you are building a double-storey, ensure that the staircase design is correct, or if you are buying a double-storey home make sure you can handle the stairs. What can be even more dangerous are small steps, a small difference in heights between rooms or going from inside to outside over a small step, which often causes people to trip.

These areas should be clearly identified with some kind of warning sign. A final word on stairs: I have often seen people have to get rid of a favourite piece of furniture because it won’t fit up the staircase to the top floor. Of course you can spend a fortune having the piece dismantled and then reassembled and I have even seen cranes being used to get items to the top floor.

*Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:

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