How to Choose a Bespoke Staircase Designer Checklist



Checklist provided by


Research different types of bespoke staircases, such as metal, glass, cantilevered. Decide which type would suit your budget/home:


  • Oak

  • Walnut

  • Beech

  • Maple

  • Ash

  • Matt or polished to a glass-like finish Painted wood


  • Tinted

  • Cracked

  • Frosted effect (Acid etched)

Low iron content which has no green tinges on the edge


  • Stainless steel

Wrought iron – which can be black or gun metal grey.

Consider what types and style of spindle you like. These could be in wood, metal or glass.
Decide on the best hand rails, making sure they are safe and meet building regulations requirements. Safety requirements for hand rails state that, on a domestic dwelling, the top of its height on the rake should be 900mm off string line and 900mm off landing finished floor level to top of handrail.
  Quality staircase designers may be booked-up months in advance so consider the timescale you need the project completed in. Lead-time from survey to installation is normally 4-6 weeks and installation should take around two days (depending on the size of the project).
  Once you know what you want in detail, secure quotations from companies who are members of the Institute of Carpenters. Secure these in writing with a breakdown of labour and material costs.

Check the quotation includes the following:

  • Survey and Building Control

  • Manufacturing

  • Design

  • Installation


In addition, you might be able to add the following at an extra cost:

  • Flooring or carpet

  • Doors to match finish of staircase

  • Accessories and decor

Building control sign off is not needed unless it is a new build or major refurbishment. On a staircase renovation, building regulations state that as long as the renovation improves the existing staircase, they do not need to be involved.

Check with your staircase company that what they supply complies with building regulations. Some building control officers require structural engineer drawings, which can also be provided.

Ask if VAT is included. Remember this means they are a reputable company and should be large enough to rectify any problems that occur.
Before you confirm the company you wish to use, make sure you have references/case studies of recent work they have carried out.
Agree a payment plan, for example 10-50% deposit, although large projects may require as much as 85% so make sure that you confirm beforehand.
Any proposals should include 3D drawings, working drawings and a survey as part of the process.
Ask for a copy of their insurance policy. What accidents are you covered for? Ask if the policy is still valid if the company closes for any reason.
Ideally, sign a contract for the work and understand what happens if there is a dispute – is there a free independent complaints system? Do they have a code of conduct they abide by?
Set up a meeting with your designer to discuss the project and any queries that you may have. For example, how do you cope if the stairs aren’t accessible overnight?
Confirm whether you need to move any furniture before the installation team arrive.

Paperwork required:

  • Although there is no industry standard minimum guarantee, a good design firm should have their own guarantee of at least 10 years

  • If your staircase comes with a guarantee, print for future reference as you may be asked for a copy of this if you sell your home in the future

  • Ensure your designer adheres to building control recommendations on new-build stairs. These will require a buildings regulations certificate


All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner OBE, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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