05 Apr 2018

How to get the best staircase for your budget

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Aristotle famously said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Richard McLane, Design Director of Bisca, explains that where staircases are concerned, the opposite may be true.

If you think you can’t afford a staircase specialist to design your new staircase, think again. You want the best staircase possible for your money, but the way to achieve this may come as a surprise.

Your quantity surveyor may split out components to get the lowest price on paper but taking this approach with your staircase may end up costing you more.

On paper, a builder’s staircase may appear attractive compared to the price submitted by a staircase specialist. In reality, this can be a very different story.

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Engage a staircase specialist as early as possible in your project

A quantity surveyor can add value to some elements of a build, but the staircase is not one of them. You should consider your staircase as part of the fabric of the building. A far superior quality in design and finish is possible if a staircase specialist is engaged during the design of the house.

The synergy between an architect and a specialist working together is of greater value to the client than either one working alone. An architect may work on five staircases a year, whilst a staircase specialist will design 50+. Anything other than a standard staircase needs a staircase specialist.

Design work

Every bespoke staircase design involves a significant amount of design work. Design resolves interfaces, aesthetics, materials, specifications, loadings and head heights. This must happen before purchase of materials and before a build begins.

When planning and budgeting for a staircase you should think of the space as a whole from start to finish. Only 60% of a design is about the staircase, 40% is about how it interfaces with, and integrates into, the property.

Design is an intangible aspect of a project that many clients and particularly their quantity surveyor may not see the value in until the build starts. Once the build starts, the process of working with good design becomes more tangible to everyone.

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Further information....

Top tips for getting the perfect staircase for your budget:

1. Engage a specialist for design cost options before allocating budget for your staircase.

2. Engage a specialist at the beginning of the project. It’s much easier to move walls and doors on paper than when built.

3. Treat the staircase and balustrade as a single unit. Do not divorce for budget, design or build purposes. The relationship between a staircase and balustrade introduced for the first time at installation will always be uneasy.

4. Understand the implications of including the staircase in the remit of your quantity surveyor.

5. Understand the limitations of concrete stairs if this is what you are considering.

6. When obtaining quotations, ensure you are comparing like-for-like.

7. Understand the differences in stairs offered by bespoke staircase manufacturers. For example, 100% bespoke companies such as Bisca, those offering modular stairs (often wrongly sold as bespoke) and products made by fabricators who pay scant attention to any design aspects and quality of finish.

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