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What Are the Regulations on Stairs When Selling a House?

What are the regulations on stairs when selling a house? Regulations on stairs when selling a house include adhering to safety standards such as correct handrail heights, proper tread depths, and consistent riser heights to ensure both legal compliance and occupant safety.

Understanding and adhering to the regulations on stairs when selling a house can avoid potential legal issues and enhance the property’s appeal to prospective buyers. Read on as we explore the essential stair regulations you need to know before listing your home for sale.

Real estate investors Steve Daria and Joleigh emphasize the importance of meeting stair regulations when preparing a property for sale. These regulations, including proper handrail heights, tread depths, and riser heights, can significantly impact safety and legal compliance. By ensuring these standards are met, sellers can avoid potential legal issues and make their property more attractive to buyers.

Why Stairs Regulations Matter

Stairs may seem like a minor detail, but they play an important role in home safety and functionality. 

Regulations on stairs when selling a house ensure that they are safe to use and accessible for everyone. 

These rules are made to prevent accidents and injuries, making your property more appealing to potential buyers.

regulations on stairs when selling a house

Key Points

  • Prevent legal issues
  • Ensure safety and accessibility
  • Enhance market value

Understanding Building Codes

Building codes are rules that dictate the minimum standards for construction and safety in buildings. 

These codes ensure that structures are safe for occupants, covering various elements from structural integrity to fire safety. 

When it comes to stairs, building codes are particularly important as they address numerous aspects, including dimensions, railings, and materials, to prevent accidents and ensure ease of use. 

Stair Dimensions

Stair dimensions are critical for both safety and usability. 

Building codes specify the minimum and maximum height (rise), width (run), and depth (tread) of each step to ensure that stairs are comfortable and reduce the risk of trips and falls. 

For instance, the rise of each step typically ranges from 7 to 8 inches, while the run should be at least 10 inches. 


  • Minimum tread depth: 10 inches
  • Maximum riser height: 7.75 inches
  • Minimum stairway width: 36 inches

Handrails and Railings

Handrails and railings are crucial components of stair safety, providing essential support and preventing falls. 

Regulations on stairs when selling a house typically mandate handrails on both sides of the stairway, especially for stairs exceeding a certain height. 

These handrails must be sturdy, securely anchored, and positioned at a height that is comfortable and safe for all users, generally between 34 and 38 inches above the stair nosing.

Materials and Durability

The materials used for constructing stairs must be selected based on their ability to resist regular use and environmental factors. 

Building codes often specify which materials are acceptable, such as certain types of wood, metal, or composite materials, to ensure they meet safety and durability standards. 

Using approved materials not only ensures the stairs are safe and long-lasting but also helps in meeting regulatory requirements when selling your house, thereby avoiding potential legal and financial issues.

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Common Stair Issues and How to Fix Them

Identifying and addressing common stair issues is essential for ensuring compliance with building regulations and enhancing the safety and appeal of your property. 

Uneven Steps

Uneven steps are a significant safety hazard that can lead to trips and falls, making them a critical issue to address. 

Ensure that each step in your stairway is uniform in height (rise) and depth (run), as per building code specifications. 

If you find discrepancies, consider redoing the steps or adding fillers to achieve uniformity, thus enhancing safety and compliance.

Loose Handrails

Loose handrails fail to provide the necessary support and can lead to dangerous falls, particularly for children, seniors, and individuals facing mobility challenges.

To fix this, check that all handrails are securely fastened to the wall or stair structure, using appropriate anchors and screws. 

Regularly inspect the handrails for any indications of tear or looseness, and tighten or replace them as necessary to ensure they remain sturdy and reliable.

Worn-Out Treads

Worn-out treads can become slippery and pose a significant safety risk, increasing the likelihood of slips and falls. 

To maintain a safe and appealing stairway, regularly inspect the treads for hints of wear and damage, such as cracks, splinters, or excessive smoothness. 

Replace any damaged or worn treads promptly with new, durable materials to ensure a secure footing and to keep the stairway visually appealing and compliant with safety standards.

Tips for Ensuring Compliance

Ensuring that your stairs comply with regulations can be a straightforward process if you follow these tips:

Hire a Professional Inspector

Hiring a proper inspector is a crucial step in identifying any potential issues with your stairs and ensuring they meet all relevant regulations. 

An experienced inspector will thoroughly assess the stairway, checking for compliance with local building rules and identifying any safety hazards. 

regulations on stairs when selling house

Use Quality Materials

Using high-quality materials for your stairs is essential for enhancing their durability, safety, and overall appeal. 

Quality materials such as hardwood, metal, or composite ensure that the stairs can withstand regular use and meet safety standards. 

Investing in superior materials not only ensures compliance with regulations but also increases the longevity and aesthetic value of your stairway, making the property more attractive to potential buyers.

Keep Documentation

Maintaining thorough documentation related to stair repairs and upgrades is crucial for demonstrating compliance and ensuring a smooth selling process for your property. 

Keep records of any permits obtained for stair repairs or renovations, along with inspection reports from professional inspectors. 

This documentation not only shows potential buyers that the stairs meet regulatory standards but also provides transparency and reassurance regarding the safety and quality of the property’s stairway infrastructure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Explore the most common queries about the regulations on stairs when selling a house.

Do I need a permit to repair or replace stairs?

In many cases, you will need a permit to repair or replace stairs. 

Check with your local building rules to determine the specific requirements for your area.

What are the consequences of not complying with stair regulations?

Failing to comply with stair regulations can result in fines, legal issues, and potential harm to residents. 

It can also make it difficult to sell your property.

Can I make my stairs more accessible?

Yes, there are several ways to make your stairs more accessible, such as adding handrails, reducing step height, and installing ramps. 

Consult with a professional to determine the best options for your property.


Understanding and complying with regulations on stairs when selling a house is essential for ensuring safety, avoiding legal issues, and making your property more appealing to buyers. By familiarizing yourself with building codes, addressing common stair issues, and following the tips provided, you can confidently sell your home, knowing that your stairs meet all necessary standards.

**NOTICE:  Please note that the content presented in this post is intended solely for informational and educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal or financial advice or relied upon as a replacement for consultation with a qualified attorney or CPA. For specific guidance on legal or financial matters, readers are encouraged to seek professional assistance from an attorney, CPA, or other appropriate professional regarding the subject matter.

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