Hallway sizes and slopes
Karen Pease
March 30, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I was thinking about adding some "half floors" (or even smaller fractions) to the house, making use of the natural landscape. Obviously, some combination of sloping halls and/or staircases must make up the difference to connect between the two adjacent levels.

Unlike staircases, there are practical limits on hallway slopes. While people have no trouble walking up/down a 45° staircase, most people would find it annoying and difficult walking up/down. But at what point would people find a slope acceptable? I would conceptually generally prefer slopes to stairs for a number of reasons (the house has organic shapes, it'd let the roomba go up, can't fall as far if one trips, etc), but I don't want to make a place that's uncomfortable to get around in!

Also, what are comfortable widths/heights for halls? I'm planning to have the ceilings arched, if that makes a difference.
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There are building code standards for rise and run of staircases.
March 30, 2013 at 10:25am   
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Barnhart Gallery
Exposed bedrock could be cool.
March 30, 2013 at 11:03am   
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Karen Pease
@Dytecture: I know, but knowing that codes exist doesn't answer the question. :) I plan to draw up the house, as reasonable as I can, as a baseline for working with the architect. I'd rather it change as little as possible from what I draw up, and knowing at what angles things can connect at can make a *huge* layout difference. Same for hall widths.

Note that American building codes don't apply up here. But I imagine they're not too different from ours.

@Barnhart Gallery: If possible I'd like to use as much exposed bedrock as possible, but it may or may not be possible depending on the location. Also, others have already shot down the idea of tunnelling through bedrock as too costly and unsafe, and in either situation the rock needs to be reinforced against falls. Most tunnels these days are completely walled over in concrete. But yes, at the very least, if digging down to bedrock is possible, I'd love to grind, seal, and polish it to use directly as the floor. :)
March 30, 2013 at 6:18pm   
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Barnhart Gallery
You could also fake it with a boulder embedded in the floor.
March 30, 2013 at 6:32pm   
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Here's a reference to keeping interior slopes to 8.3% max (California). http://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/dsa/pubs/checklists_rev_02-15-11.pdf

And 7% (New Zealand). http://www.dbh.govt.nz/UserFiles/File/Publications/Building/Compliance-documents/D1-access-routes-2nd-edition-amendment-5.pdf

If you use sloped surfaces, pay careful attention to traction on the slope and also consider handrails. Lighting must be top-notch - maybe automatic - and landings must be provided. Also, this is not for use in a potentially wet area.
March 31, 2013 at 7:02am   
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Karen Pease
Thanks a bunch, soberg! That helps a lot with layout. :)
March 31, 2013 at 11:30am   
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