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Community and Q&A

Door at bottom of basement bulkhead stairs

steveoneil | Posted in Building Code Questions on

I want to install a door at the bottom of my exterior basement stairs. I was planning on framing around the rough opening in the foundation and installing a pre-hung door. This would probably require that I have to reach low to turn the door knob as I descend the stairs from the outside. It sounds like this is a code violation as it does not meet the requirements of having a landing. Is this correct? I’m wondering because it seems to me that the safety concern would be with egress, in which case the door will have a clear area in front of it as you’re exiting the basement. In my case, the lack of landing is as one is entering the building, so wondering if I can get away with installing it as described above. If the answer is no, then I assume the correct way to do it is to build out some walls to the interior of the basement on either side of the opening and then install the door. Any advice appreciated.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    If you don't want to pay the expense needed to create a landing at the exterior side of this door, then the only person who can answer you question is your local building inspector. Our opinion here is irrelevant. So call your local building department.

  2. Expert Member

    Don't forget you also need to install a floor drain in the landing.

  3. steveoneil | | #3

    I will call the building inspector when the office is open. Just thought I'd check here to see if there was a clear answer that could get me started on this project this weekend.

    The expense to create a landing on the exterior of the door would be significant. There are pre-cast concrete stairs there already that would have to be removed.

  4. user-1072251 | | #4

    We occasionally install steel "Bilco" doors and install an exterior rated door at the bottom with no landing. Yes, the outside knob is low, but for the most part the Bilco and similar doors are mostly accessed from the interior since they lock from the interior. Good to check with the local authorities of course.

  5. steveoneil | | #5

    OK thanks Bob.
    That's my preferred setup and what I've seen done elsewhere, but will confirm with the town.

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