Staircase Options for an Elevated House

NEW STAIR DESIGN: One of the trickier elements to elevating a house is creating the new access stairs. Whether you are lifting your house two feet off the ground or a full story, functional yet attractive stairs will need to be designed for your home.

Three things will greatly dictate  your options: the number of steps you need, the size of the property, and where your house is located. For instance, beachfront property (“V” zone on a flood map) is restricted by FEMA e.g., no massive staircases that would act as an obstruction to flowing water are allowed. For everyone else, you have more choices.


One of the standard designs is the straight staircase (see photos below). On these elevated homes, the stairs enhance the look of the house and blend into the neighborhood. There is always the option to add a landing 1/2 way up the run of steps to break it up a bit, provided you have enough property to extend out that far. One of the limiting factors to using the straight style staircase is a shallow front yard. Straight style stairs extend roughly one foot per stair, plus however big the landing to your front door extends.

straight style stairs
Straight style stairs – 10 steps
straight  style steps - 12 steps
Straight style steps  with a flair at the end- 12 steps
Straight style with a landing in the middle.
Straight style steps with a landing in the middle


This shape is great at breaking up a long run of steps or using when your front yard has a small set back. They are an attractive alternative to consider based on your personal preference.

The "L" style staircase on a house in progress
The “L” style staircase on a house in progress


This design is similar to the L-shape, except the run of stairs tends to extend closer to the ground before landing on a platform that splits off in two directions, in a T.

This single family home is designed with an L-Shape staircase
This single family home is designed with a T-shape staircase


The U-Shape staircase is a spacious design that allocates room for planting beds to be merged into the structure. As a result, they take up quite a bit of room and are best reserved for wider homes on an expansive property. Otherwise, the stairs will overpower the house.

Note how much real estate these stair consume. Fine on a wider property, like this one.
Note how much real estate this staircase consumes. It works on a  wider property, like this one.


Switchback style stairs including runs and landings.

Very similar to the U-style stair design except that the large planting bed in the middle of the U is eliminated to condense the size of the staircase. This style works well on a house that requires many stairs in the design, but does not have a lot of space in which to work. Like the U-shape, this style of staircase utilizes landings to break up a large run of stairs.

Initially, we had hoped to utilize a straight stair design on our house (and we still might). On closer inspection, we realized that our house will require more steps (about 16) than the ones we had seen with a straight style design. The verdict for our house is still out …

The choice of staircase style is a personal one that the homeowner will make based on what they prefer and what works best on their property. One upside to all of those stairs – a regular workout for your derrière. Another bonus – your house is above the flood zone.


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