Home Safety - dangerous attic access ladder.
One of the most dangerous things I do as a home inspector is go into attics.
Often I can open a hatch and use my own ladder. Sometimes there is an attic access ladder, which I have to look at very carefully before I decide to use it.
Sometimes they are very old, having cracked stair treads, or with loose nuts and bolts, or poorly-cut feet that do not rest properly on the floor, or are installed with few or small nails or screws.
And homeowners, not carpenters or professionals, often install them. Now and then I will run into a case where the homeowner has cut through a structural member of the roof to make room for the ladder assembly.
When I see a dangerous attic access ladder I will not use it, favoring my own ladder and working around the ladder assembly in the house.
This house offered one of the most dangerous ladder installations I have ever run across! I refused to use it.
And where it was installed made it difficult to work around for me to get into the attic space.
Look at where the feet of the stringers rest, laying across the lip of the carpeted stair tread below!
Sometimes what people will do astounds me.
What does the code say? From the residential code in 2012:
"R 807.1 - The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches, and shall be located in a hallway or readily-accessible location. A 30 inch minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be provided at some point above the access opening."
If you disregard the stupid place for installation, this access ladder appears to meet code! Should anyone use it? We report, you decide.
My recommendation: attic-access ladder manufacturers all have their own instructions for installing their products. These instructions include location, support, attachment, weight loads, etc. So very often I see that these instructions are not met, INCLUDING ON NEW CONSTRUCTION. All I can do is write it up and warn those involved in the purchase. Home safety is not something to take lightly or allow to slip by with shoddy work, builder or homeowner. Home safety is a big part of the home inspection process and report criteria.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560