Contemporary living room with staircase, measuring stairs with ANSI Z765 concept

Navigating Stairs with ANSI: Don’t Fall Down

 

The Fannie Mae requirement for appraisers to begin measuring single-unit properties with the ANSI Z765 standard kicked in several weeks ago, but many appraisers still have questions about the standard. One of the most common questions concerns how to handle stairs with ANSI.

Stairs are nothing to be afraid of, and in most cases, they require no special consideration or separate measurement. Under ANSI Z765, stairs are handled in a logical manner. Stairs are counted as part of the level from which they descend, and the area under the stairs is counted as part of the lower level, regardless of the ceiling height or finish. If the stairs are the same size as (or larger than) the stair opening, you do not even need to bother measuring the stairs.

Examples: How to handle stairs with ANSI

Let’s look at an example. A one-story house with a basement has a basement stair opening that is 3 feet by 10 feet, and the staircase is the same size as the stair opening. In this situation, the stairs are counted as part of the first-floor square footage (i.e., as part of the level from which the stairs descend). This is true regardless of whether the basement is finished; stairs that descend into an unfinished basement are included in above-grade finished square footage. The area under the stairs in the basement is counted as part of the below-grade (basement) square footage, even though part of this under-stair area would have low ceilings. An appraiser would not subtract the area under the stairs from the below-grade square footage.

As another example, let’s examine a traditional two-story house with a basement. In this house, the stairs between the first and second floors are counted as part of the second floor. The stairs between the first floor and the basement are counted as part of the first floor. The area below the stairs in the basement is counted as below-grade area. Again, as long as the stairs are the same size as the stair opening, no special calculations are necessary – no addition or subtraction is necessary for the stairs.

When do stairs need special attention?

The only time stairways become an issue requiring special attention is when the stair opening is larger than the stairs themselves. For example, if a stair opening between the first and second floors is 10 feet by 10 feet, and the stairway (which fills part of this opening) is 3 feet by 8 feet, then the appraiser would subtract the opening (100 square feet) and add back in the stairs (24 square feet) to the second-floor level.

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