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I'm buying a house with carpeted stairs leading into the basement. Attached is a picture of it. I have very little skill when it comes to home improvement. What's the easiest and most economical way to put a railing on these stairs? Is there a good tutorial online? As I mentioned above, these stairs are carpeted. I would not want to ruin the stair carpet in the process.

Picture of the stairs

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Which side do you want a railing on? A hand rail mounted to the wall would be easy, a banister on the room side would be harder. On that side, it looks like the carpet/stairs overhang the support beam, meaning you'd have to either notch the stairs, or build out and around. –  Scivitri Apr 17 '12 at 4:08
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Do your local codes require hand rails on stairs (I'd be surprised if they don't)? If so, use that as leverage to get the seller to do it or to drop the price. While you're at it, make sure the rest of that finished basement was done to code. –  Niall C. Apr 17 '12 at 4:11
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Mention it to your home inspector prior to the sale.They should be familiar with local code. –  mikes Apr 17 '12 at 10:46
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This is ABSOLUTELY a code violation. If you or a visitor to your home gets injured due to the lack of a railing, you might find your insurance fails to cover it. You can try to force the sellers to fix it, however, I'd expect they would do as cheap a job of it as they can. Better is to ask them to give you relief on the home price. Get an estimate from a contractor for installing a railing that IS according to code. Present them with the documentation, and then have the work done yourself, while deducting the cost from the money paid to the sellers. –  user558 Apr 17 '12 at 12:33
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This open stairway would get a big red Safety concern in my Home Inspections. I would not close until it was mitigated. There is a very good chance you may not even be able to get any homeowners insurance until this is fixed. If you are not a DIYer, definitely insist on a professional job. –  shirlock homes Apr 17 '12 at 13:30
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You'll have to cut the carpet to attach the railing properly. Go grab the latest newstand issue of Fine Homebuilding. They have a full article on it:

enter image description here

(Not affiliated with the magazine in any-way other than I am a fan and find it to be the best construction magazine out there)

Also, heads up that this will likely be caught on an inspection and/or appraisal. The current homeowners may be required to do this to even get a mortgage approved.

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