Flood Savvy

Staircase Transformation on an Elevated House

WEEK 20: Fresh on the heels of last week’s set-back, we’ve made some steady progress this week, albeit not nearly enough for my liking. The majority of the work effort has been restricted to the new front staircase. It’s great to see the transformation, but what I’d really like to see is a beehive of activity on my house. You know, like they show on TV where an extensive renovation takes 4 or 5 days on a shoestring budget.

Even if your elevated house stays in the exact same footprint, the new staircase required to access it cannot. Elevating the house requires a lot more stairs to get to the front door. There are a few options to consider depending on factors such as space, cost, and personal preferences.

For more ideas and images on choosing the shape and style of a front staircase for an elevated house, see here. 

JULY: Back in July, while we were busy celebrating the Declaration of Independence, the front of our house looked like the photo below. The house had been raised and the construction had yet to formally begin. 


AUGUST: By mid-August our construction crew had nearly completed the new foundation walls for our elevated house, as seen below. I’ve seen the foundation walls built two different ways – one where the foundation walls are built up to meet the house exactly and here, where the house was elevated higher than needed and the house lowered back down onto the newly built foundation walls.

In my experience, it seems better not to have to lower the house back down and exert all that pressure on the mega-ton house and walls. But this is a post about stairs for an elevated house … 

Foundation walls built up and sill plate visible. 

SEPTEMBER: Construction on the front stairs formally began. Of course there was a lot of work that went into the formation of these steps including digging a sizable trench, forming the underground footings, and building the majority of the rest of the staircase out of cinder blocks. But by the end of the month, we had a front staircase.

Flood Savvy
Front staircase framed, poured, and cured

OCTOBER: Nearing the end of October, the stonework has been added to the front staircase. Missing, however, is any semblance of a railing. At this point we’re not sure whether we’ll go with wrought iron or natural wood. Likely which ever gets us back in the house sooner.

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Front steps having stonework applied

The picture above also shows other key updates. The front left corner of the house show a new gas meter. That was a hard-earned element of the project and we’re happy to have it behind us. Also the new “basement” windows have been framed out and shingles have been added to this side of the house replacing a damaged white border.

Sure beats what we were doing a year ago – riding out the effects of Superstorm Sandy.

6 thoughts on “Staircase Transformation on an Elevated House

  1. Here’s a note of hope: we raised our house, on a river in NJ, in 2006. Our experience was similar to yours – hurry up and wait and, oh yes, send more money – but eventually you will be in your raised house, a storm will be coming, and you can just sit back and, if you indulge, pour yourself a nice smug glass of wine.

    The last step in our house raising was that I eventually called all the workmen who had “just a couple of things left to do” and said, “CO inspection is next Monday, fellas, see you there,” and they sprang into action. It helped that we have the world’s best building inspector here.

    Good luck!

    1. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your story with me. Your trick on getting the CO may come in handy. No doubt we’ll be singing a song of relief when the rains come around again and we can relax knowing that our house will not be flooding. Cheers to that!

  2. Your house is beautiful. Good luck in the future. I live in a waterfront area in Toms River, NJ that was almost completely destroyed by Sandy. Every day for the last year I have watched as my neighbors’ homes have been either raised or torn down in the hopes of being rebuilt. Approximately 50% were destroyed beyond repair. It is so very sad. I often feel guilty due to the fact that my newer home, built on a 5 foot slab, did not get water inside. We also have to move our cars whenever there is a lot of rain combined with a high tide. Thank you for sharing your story and experience.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Looking forward to the day when the rains fall and I don’t have to worry. Like you, we will still need to move our cars. Best wishes to all of your neighbors!


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