What I'm Seeing Now


When Staircases Are Lemons

When staircases are lemons.

From my Oxford Dictionary of English -

Lemon - informal - an unsatisfactory or feeble person or thing.

In this 21 year old townhouse, three levels, when walking up and down the staircases, all of them, that is ALL OF THEM, bounced, sagged, squeaked and felt unstable.  Some bouncing was dramatic!

The only place I could see the structural components was in the small crawl space under the lowest staircase.

And it was revealing!

It was apparent that many repairs had been done over the years to try to correct this issue.

You can see from the red arrows:

-->  Separations, shown on the left.

-->  Drywall screws used to "shore things up."  Drywall screws are not strong enough for this application.

-->  Nails used to "correct" bouncing and sagging.  As I said, some of the bouncing was very pronounced.

Of course nothing has worked.

My client, an investor who trusts me, and the agent who has referred me for many years, both saw what I was referring to.

The house was being sold "as is."  Usually that means the seller knows of things that there is unwillingness to repair.  This issue alone was enough to turn the investor off.  He is not interested in inheriting a potential risk.  In my opinion, and his, this problem is dangerous.

What did he imagine?  A heavy tenant, adding to his weight by carrying something heavy up the stairs, and having one or two collapse under him.  How fun! 

What a phone call that would be, to the property manager or to my client, the homeowner.

Do we have a big, balloon, liability insurance policy?

And both the Realtor and I pointed out that one day he would be selling the house and at that time the buyer might want proper repairs done to all the staircases.  That could be very expensive, with drywall removal, carpentry, possible replacement of staircases, and the rest.

My recommendation:  sometimes it is one thing, and only one thing, that can turn a buyer off.  And this was the one thing in this house!  My client moved on.  We are scheduled for another inspection later this week.  It pays to trust your home inspector to evaluate, inform, educate and warn.  Sometimes there are no issues!  And sometimes there are.  And observing and reporting THAT is the objective of a home inspection.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 15 commentsJay Markanich • August 15 2017 08:23AM
When Staircases Are Lemons
When staircases are lemons. From my Oxford Dictionary of English - Lemon - informal - an unsatisfactory or feeble person or thing. In this 21 year old townhouse, three levels, when walking up and down the staircases, all of them, that is ALL OF THEM… more
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