Space saving stairs, also known as compact, paddle or alternating tread stairs, are used in loft conversions when it simply isn't possible to install the usual kind of staircase because of a lack of space.
It should be noted that the building regulations are very strict about the kind of stairs that can be used when converting the attic.
But, by allowing the selective use of compact stairs, they do offer a solution where a very steep staircase is required because the space isn't sufficient for a normal flight of stairs.
These kind of stairs can only be used when the property owner can prove to the building control officers that there is no alternative.
To do this they will have to provide structural plans showing that a traditional staircase is unable to be fitted in the space available.
Normally 800mm is the minimum permitted width of a staircase for a loft conversion but in these circumstances 600mm will be acceptable.
There are however restrictions on how compact stairs can be used.
The most important thing to note is that these kind of loft stairs can only be used to access one habitable room.
In other words if the new loft conversion includes two bedrooms than these stairs cannot be used under any circumstances. The only exception here is that a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom is deemed to be a single room and is therefore acceptable.
Another restriction is that the flight of stairs must be straight, they cannot include bends, and must have fixed handrails on either side of the stairs.
Although these kind of stairs can be used in the circumstances we have discussed above, it should be said that they are not suitable for everyone. Because they are so steep elderly people will find space saving stairs very difficult to manage as will children.
For more info see the related pages below
Vermiculite Loft Insulation is an echo-friendly alternative to traditional insulation materials
The old loft water tank will need to be moved if the roof space is being converted into a habitable room
Structural calculations for loft conversions are of course hugely important to ensure safety and that the proposed plans meet building regulations