Of course, ripping out a staircase and installing a new one involves more than just a stairbuilder. There's ancillary work — like framing, flooring, electrical, drywall or plaster, and paint — that can complicate the construction schedule. Withstandley recommends that his customers have a general contractor who can orchestrate all the different phases of the job, including satisfying local building codes.

A trusted contractor or architect is also a good way for you to find quality local stairbuilding companies. (There are plenty to be found, in phone books and Web searches, but a personal reference is a big plus.) Once you've found a few candidates, ask to see samples of their finished work. As one test of craftsmanship, Withstandley suggests running your hand along the railing. You'll be able to see where the joints are, but in a well-crafted rail you won't be able to feel them.

Where to Find It:

Harmonson Stairs
823 Eastgate Drive
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
856-235-6557 (fax)

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