I was looking at some new houses in this new subdivision in my area. The model home we looked at looked nice, had carpeting, lighting, etc.

However, we noticed on this model (as well as a 2nd model and a move-in ready unit) that several of the steps on the staircase didn't span the full width of the staircase itself. The carpet in all 3 cases covered the "holes" but you could feel it with your finger. It wasn't just 1 step; it was probably 4-5 in the first model, maybe 4-5 steps in the 2nd model, and maybe 3 for the move-in ready unit.

The largest holes I could stick maybe up to the 1st knuckle on my index finger. A young child might be able to stick 2 fingers in. Some of the smaller holes I could put my finger tip in; about half way down my finger nail. And then there were steps where it was "perfect" in my eyes (flush with the wall) and you couldn't stick anything in between, which is what I expected.

Is there a reason for doing this on a staircase or is this a case of bad workmanship? Is there any structural concerns or the way they make/support steps on a staircase, this is ok? I didn't take any photos but I can try to if needed to show what I'm seeing.

  • 5
    "We're covering these in carpet and then running away, right?" -a worker probably
    – Mazura
    Sep 19, 2016 at 22:26
  • It is the "throw it together anyway we can make it work" mentality in many construction companies
    – Jack
    Sep 20, 2016 at 0:16
  • @jack :( that doesn't sound very comforting to me. hopefully I don't have a busted step in a few years
    – Classified
    Sep 20, 2016 at 0:50
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    The stairs I am sure will last as long as it needs to. Many many years, I am sure. Its just that carpenters these days and their employers do not take the time from what I can see to do "a job well done" If a cut that is made is "close enough" it stays, or more accurately in your case, your stairs, the carpet covers it, any gaps in the rough treads to the walls are not important. In reality, a gap where you are finding them should not be important,, unless it is big enough for a child to stick their fingers in and get hurt by it. The attitude of a person letting details pass like that is sad.
    – Jack
    Sep 20, 2016 at 1:23
  • @jack or the gap isn't big enough for my foot to get stuck in on the way up and down the stairs. unfortunately, the handrail is on the same side as the gaps so let's hope mom/dad/grandparents don't have small feet :) thanks for your assurance. I also hope they used strong wood :)
    – Classified
    Sep 20, 2016 at 1:56

1 Answer 1


It is just bad workmanship. The structure under the stairs that support everything is part of the framing package that is inspected by a county official before it is covered by drywall.

I have worked in homes (I am a trim carpenter by choice) after the framing crew which built the stairs in a number of houses that had 1" gaps to the wall. The original intent was to add skirt boards but in the spirit of cheap, the builder decided not to have them installed and left the 1" space for the carpet to cover. It made me cringe at the look of it before carpet, but in the spirit of getting in and out quick, that is what goes on.

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