Ruckus Ridge Farm
Irene, South Dakota



Building a Home
The Stairway

     We had to wait until after our construction loan approved before we could start on the stairway.  Not because we didn't have the money to pay for the materials, but because we were told that we could not be in the middle of a project when the appraiser came.  Of course what they did not tell us was just how long it was going to take to get an appraiser out here.  I won't bore you with the details, but it was mid August before we were actually able to start tearing out the old stairway.  But before I get into that, here are the before photos.

To get to the stairway you had to go through a doorway from the kitchen and the stairs were on the left.  If you could call them stairs.  It was more like a ladder they were so steep. And that was only to the second floor.  In order to get to the basement, there was anther stairway that was in the entry.

I am pretty sure that the basement entrance used to be on the outside of the house.  But when they decided to finish the basement to add bedrooms for a growing family, they added the little entry way that you see in the photo below.

The work begins . . . . .

Before we could even start on the stairway we needed to level the floors as best we could and add some stress bearing walls in the basement. Here you see how we did this.  The rust red post that you see just right of center is a jack post. They were used as temporary posts while we worked.  The little hydraulic jack that you see on top of the old 4X4 is how we actually lifted the beams.

First we ripped out the old stairs and then we cut a section of floor away to give access to the basement.  Here (right) you are looking down into the basement from the main floor with the bathroom on the right.  The stud wall that you see in the basement is going to be a small half bath.

Here (left) you are looking down from the second floor.  To the right is a landing and lower center is another bearing wall which divides the 1920s part of the basement from the 1880s part.  We plan on making that area into cool storage for keeping root vegetables and canned goods.  The ladder that you see is our only current access from floor to floor.

Still from the second floor but looking back toward the bathroom (right) you can see where the old bathroom doorway used to be.  As you can see, it would not have been possible to leave it there and still put the landing and stairs in.

WE also cut out a good sized section of the second floor in order to enlarge the opening of the stairway.  This is what it looked like before we started working. . . .

From the second floor locking down

Here we are (right) with the old walls ripped out but before we cut into the floor.   Note the position of the vent pipe.

And here (left) is after we widened the opening, now the vent pipe is right on the edge of the hole.

So this is what we ended up with.  The carpet is some of what was here when we bought the place. We put it on to protect the pine until we were done moving stuff up and down.  Eventually the carpet will come off and we will stain and varnish the wood then add a stair runner with brass stair rods to give it a nice old-fashioned look.

So here we have the "before", looking down
                            and here we have the current as of
from the second floor                                                                             07-05-09           

That little ledge that you see on the left in the "current" photo will be covered with an oak strip to tie in with the oak stair rails that still need to be installed.  Also, you may have noticed that we added a little octagon window to allow  light in to the stairway.

Or maybe this will give you a better idea of how the grade pitch changed. You can see by the old footprint on the wall (left) what the angle of the old Stair was and where the little two step landing used to be compared to where the new landing is. The photo on the right is as of July  2009.

Here (below) is a "before" and "now" view from the main floor.  It is actually a bit difficult to take the current photo because the new kitchen Island is in the way now, but you can still see the difference.
Note the two oak posts in the current photos.  We needed to install these in order to lay the oak floor but we made sure that we would be able to take them off if we needed to take something large down the stairs.

I also need to apologize for the odd warping of the outer edges of some of the photos.  My camera is great for many things but unfortunately it has a wide angle lens which tends to create a fish eye effect if an object is too close.  The walls really are straight, I promise.

Anyway, as I said before, there is still a lot of work to be done on a number of things including the stairs so eventually I will be able to finish this section, but for now I will just have to leave it at
                            To be continued . . . . . .

                                                                                                                          to "the addition"
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