What I'm Seeing Now


Can Wood Stairs Get Worn Down With Time?

So, did you answer?  Can wood stairs get worn down with time?

I love doing inspections on older homes, like this one just a block from the Capitol Building.  The city is crawling with cops and security, getting ready for next week.  They eyed me carefully walking around with the two bags of tools that I needed to do this inspection!

Older houses in the district, like this 1885 row house, retain lots of old features - drippy glass, beautiful and secure newel posts at the bottoms of stairs, skeleton keyed locks (called ward locks), and bricks that have moved left and right.

The narrow staircases were still all in place.  And this house has four levels!

Interestingly the treads are 10" deep! 

That is the BRAND NEW code for stair treads in the International Residency Code just this year!

A bit difficult to capture in a photo, as it's much easier to see 3D, I am always impressed at how the wood in these old staircases has responded to traffic for so much time!

The 128 years of foot traffic in this house has worn them down!

Well, for sure.  Which of us is not worn down with time?

Some would call that "charm."

I would!

Oh, the guardrails were all 30" high, in contrast to our 36" height today, even in the hallways around each staircase.

The people were shorter then!

My recommendation:  when you attend inspections on older, historic properties, expect to spend a little time in admiration for how things were done in the era the house was built in.  It's fun to see!  This home inspector loves to sniff around and look at it!




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 30 commentsJay Markanich • January 18 2013 02:32AM
Can Wood Stairs Get Worn Down With Time?
So, did you answer? Can wood stairs get worn down with time? I love doing inspections on older homes, like this one just a block from the Capitol Building. The city is crawling with cops and security, getting ready for next week. They eyed… more
But They're Cousins, Identical Cousins All The Way
An unusual 60-day inspection on a new house revealed some interesting problems, but different than the 60-day old house next door - that is exactly the same house! It's unusual to see the same house design side by side in a new neighborhood. … more
This Is What I Could See - What's Under The Drywall?
On a recent pre-drywall inspection which turned out not to be pre-drywall at all, I was told by the builder that I should proceed anyway because I could see everything anyway. On a pre-drywall inspection I am looking for lots of things -… more
May Not Be So Accurate
One recent technique for spreading insulation in the attic may not be so accurate. It involves saying that there are so many square feet and this many bags of insulation was blown in, and therefore we have this certain R-value. I can… more
Battle Of The Bulge - What If The Bulge Is Brick?
The words "battle of the bulge " bring many things to mind - historical, personal, whatever. But, what if the bulge is brick? In this case, brick work is the star of the show. The house is 32 years old, and the brick is a… more
PRE-Drywall Inspection - You Won't Believe This
A very nice man called for a pre-drywall inspection, and we set up a time. When I arrived there were a lot of trucks outside the house. Typically the time for our inspection has been reserved by the builder and the house is vacant, and… more
Support, Or Otherwise, In The Center Of The House
As I arrived for this one-year warranty inspection, I asked the homeowners what things they have been living with that they wonder about and want inspected. They pointed me first to the staircase in the family room, and the support, or otherwise,… more
Missing Or Completely Hidden Water Heater
I could see from the fancy laundry room that this was a well thought out house, but wondered if there was a missing or completely hidden water heater. I say "fancy" laundry room, but it was pretty basic! We are only assuming… more
There Was A Crooked Downspout
This blog could be called - "There Was A Crooked Downspout. " When I saw this downspout I thought of a game, a poem, a children's song and a nursery rhyme all at the same time! It's funny how so many memories can flood to your… more
After All Is Said And Done, Just Knowing It's There Is Enough, Right?
When things are supposed to be where they are supposed to be, after all is said and done, just knowing it's there is enough, right? How often have I had people ask me if a home inspection on new construction is necessary? Oh, let me… more