What I'm Seeing Now


Attic Access Ladder Installation - Dangers Abound

When it comes to attic access ladder installation - dangers abound.

Sometimes I pull the ladder down and look at it and don't want to use it!  I go out to the car and get my ladder.  My ladder is trustworthy!

This, however, is the one year warranty inspection on an "active adult community" house! 

Quick Quiz:   I was especially displeased because:

1.  This was installed by the builder. 
2.  It's installation was supposed to be professional and supervised. 
3.  The County was supposed to insure its safety.
4.  All of the above.  (Hint:  this would be the best answer.)

This is the comment I make on my inspection reports when the attic access ladder is not installed right:

Access to attic:  an attic access ladder should not be installed with small nails or drywall screws as they are too weak.  The ends should have doubled-up 2x4’s for strength and stability.  At least 10, and probably more, 16D nails or screws should be used, and screws should be stainless steel, Dacronized or square head brass.  Most access ladder manufacturers have their own installation recommendations.  It’s always best to have something done professionally, but if you insist on installing one yourself, here is an excellent link for general installation information:  


How big is a 16D (AKA 16 Penny) nail?  It is 3 1/2" long.  It is thick.  It is strong.

That is an excellent link because it is published by a ladder company!  And it has different scenarios for different kinds of ladders! 

When you install the ladder there are manufacturer instructions attached!

So, what's up with the access ladder I saw here?

Lacking basic shims is very disconcerting.  You can't simply nail these things up!  Is there doubled-up support on each side?  No.  Are the nails 16D?  You can't fool me!  Those are 4D or 5D nails.  Into air.


Here is the big question - if air is not a good holder, why am I seeing so many things, in so many applications, nailed into air?  I can answer the question, but my answer brings to light the basic problem with modern construction.  Simply put, the problem is PROFESSIONALISM.

This is a very, very dangerous attic access ladder installation!

My recommendation:  the builder will tell you that a private home inspection is not necessary.  Their reason is so logical too!  You don't need it because there is a supervisor there every day who does an inspection of every aspect of the construction every day.  And there is a county with professional inspectors who look at the house multiple times.  Why just think carefully - why would you need to waste your money on a private home inspection?

P.s.  These were two of 28 photos I took at this lady's house.  I was disgusted.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 29 commentsJay Markanich • August 27 2014 01:59AM
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