What I'm Seeing Now


"Is That To Code?" My Answer: Does It Matter?

That was the question my clients asked me when I pointed out the dangers to small children inherent at their home inspection.  This patio sold the house!  It is beautiful.  Now don't get me wrong!  I grew up in the 50's and 60's.  We ate asbestos and lead, rolled in radon pits and swam in creeks and golf course lakes while drinking the water.  And I never had a life jacket when I boated or went swimming in the Chesapeake Bay, truthfully, when I was 3 and 4 years old!  I have pictures to prove that!

But today, this would be considered a bit dangerous.  I don't know when it was built and frankly don't know what the code would have said years ago.  But really, does it matter?

If there was a code in place, it likely would have required a guardrail on any wall higher than 30".  The wall on the left under the deck is 33" high and beside the stairs 42".

Depending on the year built it may have required a handrail going up the stairs. Some of the stairs are 10" high.

Notice the pool on the upper patio?  Kids certainly play here.

Kids love to walk on top of walls.

Kids don't worry about a fall.  I know I didn't.  I was a monkey and would have LOVED those walls!

It may be that the people called the County when they first built the patio and asked, "Do we need a permit to put in a patio?"  To which the answer may have been, "No, not for a patio."

And maybe they failed to mention the walls and stairs.  Or they weren't in the original plans.  So there would have been no County follow up.

Again, looking to the right of the above photo, we have many stairs, without a handrail.  In this instance one really might be necessary, not only to help people up and down the stairs, but to prevent a fall 48".

And look at the wall beside the play set.  At its highest point it is 72" high.

There are other areas too with high walls not pictured here.

Now, are the sellers likely to want to put in guardrails and handrails?  Of course not.  They purposely built this without them.  Such things would destroy the ambiance and views!

And the expense of installing rails would be very high, I imagine.

Their answer to such a request would be, "We have small children and have lived here for xx years!  We haven't had any problems!"

My recommendation:   I think my clients will buy the house anyway, and maybe putting in handrails on the four stair cases.  They did mention flower pots along the high walls to prevent climbing and walking.  That's en excellent idea!  This is one of those gray zones that people have to make their own decisions about!  As for me, I thought the place was gorgeous the way it is now!  But that is just me!  Okay, maybe a few flower pots!


Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 94 commentsJay Markanich • June 23 2010 07:13AM



I agree. It would alter the look that the homeowner was really trying to get from this in the first place.


Posted by Michele Miller ~ REALTOR®, LMC, HSE, CHS, SRES, CMRS, 'Helping You Make the Best Move" (ERA Key Realty~Worcester County Realty Group) over 10 years ago

....my DOGS know not to walk on walls; hopefully, the PARENT home buyers of small children would be VIGILANT enough to CAUTION their children and WHOOP some small BUTT when they are found doing it!!!

My dogs would not go NEAR the GREEN HAIRY plants!!!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 10 years ago

Jay, I think everyone has to get back to parents parenting and watching their kids. I love the look these folks were shooting for and wouldn't change it for any code crap!

Posted by Rick Cordisco, Pocono Real Estate Professional (Pocono Mountain Lakes Realty ) over 10 years ago

I can easily see some very nice iron railings here and there on that wall and steps.  Or, correctly anchored wooden railings and railings.

Should it be a matter of the resale of this lovely home??? NO!  Of course not. 

For me, railings and guard rails are important. 

 For many who like to live dangeriously, not so much.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Michele - you would have to see the whole thing to understand how beautiful this was.  Sure, there is inherent danger and the buyers need to consider that, but wow, it was gorgeous!

Wallace - I would have been walking on my hands on top of those walls saying, "Look Mom!"  And spank me?  She could never catch me!

Pocono - that may be the thinking of my buyers!

Lenn - no big flower pots?  Of course the rails are important.  And handrails at the steps, which would not look bad at all!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

It seems that the time that railings and whether this is to code would come into play if someone fell at the house and sued them.  Then they would care and hopefully they have a high umbrella policy.  Good advice for everyone in our litigious society.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 10 years ago

As long as something is not a violation of code and the potential safety issues are pointed out in writing, the clients make the call. As for me, I think it is great looking but if someone falls...look out!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Isn't it sad that we have let bureaucrats so influence our thinking. Yes we want to protect our children, but the reality is, we can't. not all the time and not in every situation. Even if we could, would that be best for them? They wouldn't have a life if every conceivable danger was avoided. No car rides, no plane rides, no bike rides, no walking alone... you see what i mean, there is danger in everything we do.

Posted by Gail Smith over 10 years ago


It is pretty just the way it is, but with children they may want to consider installing some handrails. In any event you have presented them with the facts and now it is their choice.

- Along with eating asbestos and lead, you probably also did not even wear a helmet while riding your bike. How did we survive?


Posted by Claudette Millette, Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass (The Buyers' Counsel) over 10 years ago

Jay..excellent post. Thanks for the information and have a safe week...

Posted by Pat O'Reilly (RE/MAX..214-289-6176 Irving and all of Dallas Fort Worth) over 10 years ago

Of course you forgot to add how slippery flagstone is when wet so railings on the stairs into the yard may come into play at some point in time.  However it shouldn't stop them from enjoying a beautiful patio and yard.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 10 years ago

Ornamental iron would be my choice...maybe the former owners didn't have children and it didn't occur to them though I would think the stair railing would occur to everyone...code smode....do what makes the most safety sense.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 10 years ago

Looks great just the way it is -- I could deal with the flower pots but that's it!!! I survived all the  stuff you mentioned in childhood too!!!

Posted by Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR (Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA) over 10 years ago

I think we get carried away with all the code/safety issues and living in fear of a lawyer so much.  It's a clear and apparent hazard!  I think we've probably all missed a step on as little as a single step or two, so 30" or 50" really doesn't matter to me. Next thing you know we'll be demanding handrails out in the woods if we want to go for a hike!


Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 10 years ago

Sometimes you really wonder how mankind survived without all these safety precautions.  I used to ride bicycles without a helmet and slide down handrails whenever the opportunity presented itself! 

Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) over 10 years ago

We're with you on this one Jay.  In this crazy,  litigious society, we have lost all sense of personal responsibility and have been driven to finger pointing...especially to the parties with the deepest pockets. 

Of course buyers should be concerned about safety issues which are uncovered in an inspection...read this as improper wiring, unsafe HVAC situations etc....but in situations which can be easily remedied, if the new owners choose to do so, let the buyer beware.

Let's use common sense before we call the personal injury attorney.

Posted by Howard and Susan Meyers (The Hudson Company Winnetka and North Shore) over 10 years ago

In the late 60s' my brother cracked his head open walking on the split rail fence along the driveway and ending up on a piece of "flag stone" or "field stone" that edged the flower beds.  A few stitches he was as good as new and ready to walk on top of split rail fences, walls, slide down railings.  We had a little flag stone patio... uneven, slippery when wet.

I think the buyers should just buy their kids helmets but wait... the drunken family and friends won't want to wear helmets at parties.

It is gorgeous and inviting!

It is funny at the inspection when the thing THEY loved the house for becomes the focus of their angst. The code question is always funny and home inspectors who can help buyers understand are golden.  We were at an office lunch yesterday talking about a home inspector...   one agent had a pet name for him.  I like him.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 10 years ago

Hi Jay,  Great post and great to see you on AR.  I was just talking about this how inspectors always call no rails a "safety issue" yet very few owners bother to put up handrails in at least one set of stairs and perhaps more.    Glad to see an inspector like you give some perspective on this and point out how unsafe we all were growing up and somehow survived!  Don't forget how no one used to wear seat belts AND our mothers smoked and drank while pregnant.  It's a miracle our species still exists.

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) over 10 years ago

Nice post! The aesthetics would be altered by having the railing, but the safety of the children is paramount. Great explanation.

Posted by Mark Smith (Cherry Creek Properties, LLC) over 10 years ago

Haha... I must have grown up when you did - and we survived!  In fact, I don't know anyone who was hurt falling off their bike without a helment and elbow/knee pads, other than an annoying scab after the band-aid came off.  Flower pots... built-in benches...  I agree.

But really, when it comes to safety, you're right... Does it really matter if it's code?  If you think it's dangerous, fix it!

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Kathryn - when I was a kid I never used umbrellas - I loved the rain!  It made things slippery...   (;>)

Gary - I did what I am supposed to do, observe and report.

Gail - perhaps you missed my post:


That about says it all!

Claudette - who knows how we survived the last few thousand years!

Pat - thanks for stopping by... again!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Cindy - it really was beautiful and I can see why it sold the house!

S&D - does the code really matter?  It is minimum standard anyway!  You're right, just do what's smart.

Pam - see my link above!  How did we survive??

Bill - they have those now at some national parks!

Silvia - I still don't wear a helmet...



Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Howard and Susan - there is a reason there are so many lawyers!

Maureen - HA!  I walked on the top rail of picket fences and fell many times!

Coral - I agree!  And seat belts were stalled for many years as too expensive.  Do you know by whom?  Lee Iacocca.  Yep, the same guy who later DEMANDED them and got his name out there.

Yes, Mark, it's up to them at this point!

Margaret - you might enjoy my link in post 21 above!  That picture was taken at Shady Side, where we went every summer.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago
Great post! I think I am going to sleep with my helmet on from now on, just in case.
Posted by Jim Starwalt, A Name You Know and The Brand You Trust (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Star Homes) over 10 years ago

Hi Jay,

I can remember laying in the back window of my parents' car when we took long trips.  Nevertheless, we are a more enlightened (and litigious) society.  In our area, most townships would "force" the seller to install handrails as part of the Use & Occupancy inspection.  Personally, I would want to keep it as is.


Posted by The Scott Loper Team Bux-Mont Premier Properties (Keller Williams Real Estate - Montgomeryville) over 10 years ago

Jay, times have certainly changed, when I was a kid the thought of wearing a helmet on a bike would have been laughed at and you would have been ridiculed out of town. My parents drove a car with four kids in the back (sometimes in the front) not a seat belt to be seen.

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) over 10 years ago

If they are worried about their kids getting hurt maybe you could sell them one of those big dome bubbles.

Posted by Erik Elsea (Erik Elsea-Jones & Co. Realty) over 10 years ago


I grew up in the 50's too. I agree. The code is like a guideline. It's no reason not to buy the house. Just be aware of the issues and make alterations where you have concerns. Great article.

Posted by Robin Scott, Broker, CRS, ABR, SRS, REALTOR® - Austin Texas (Robin Scott, REALTOR®) over 10 years ago

I'm with you, Jay. But, the township has a bunch of morons they hired (mostly as political favors) who will deny a certificate of occupancy to that home and give one to a piece of crap that has a fire extinguisher, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. There seems to be NO CODE to code enforcement anymore.

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) over 10 years ago

Jay, it all depends on the people who want to buy or are currently living there. Would it matter to me? Maybe. But I am not the buyer! :-) Hope it works out!

Posted by Marney Kirk, Towson, Maryland Real Estate (Cummings & Co. Realtors) over 10 years ago

If we brought all houses up to code that were a certain age, they would never sell.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 10 years ago

Some homes work for the buyer and some don't. Using codes to force the seller to change their property may backfire if the buyers really want it. It seems to me to be something the buyer should figure out after they own it.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 10 years ago

I like pragmatic inspectors, want to move to Texas!

Posted by John Axt, Spring Texas Real Estate (Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors) over 10 years ago

Jim - you don't want to fall out of bed!

Lisa - my brother and I fought over that seat.  My referee mother would tell us when to change places and she tried to be fair.  It was either us there or the dog.

David - my town too. The only real safety gear we wore was a mask if we played catcher in a baseball game!

Works for me Erik!

Robin - thanks!  I think the buyers will be responsible.  I liked the flower pot idea.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Gregory - there does seem to be a double standard, doesn't there!

Marney - I think it will all be fine.  My first two kids were born in Towson!

Joe - no doubt about that!

Glenn - agreed.  I don't know when the thing was built, and so there may be no code at all!  But you can't force people who won't be forced.

Corinne - it was beatiful!  I think they will get it safe and retain the beauty.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

I like Corinne's comment above. Right now property managers are having a fit in my area because the city has suddenly decided to inspect all rental properties and bring EVERYTHING up to code. Many of the rental homes are 100 years old. The city is demanding some very expensive, and quite unnecessary (in my opinion) projects of these landlords. Of course, rentals are different from owner-occupied...but in this case, I would agree that the buyer should fix it if she wants to! Not because code mandates it!

Posted by Shannon Lewis, Realtor, Broker - Champaign-Urbana, IL (Beringer Realty) over 10 years ago

We used to live in Waco, John!  I loved it, and my wife hated the heat and the size of the roaches.  The bug guy used to laugh at her.  He would say, "They live here ma'am."  I never saw them myself!

Shannon - that is too much!  How horrible for the homeowners!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Great post.  Code/safety/habitability sometimes gets blown out of proportion when selling homes.  We had a deal on a 2-year old home where the builder builds every home the same and does not place anti siphon valves on outdoor spickets.  Based on inspection, buyers request this be "repaired" because its not up to "code".  If it wasn't up to code, how could the builder still be building hundreds of homes without them? Doesn't make sense to me but it was corrected to make the sale.

Posted by Terry Thomas Your Home Sold Guaranteed, Your Home Sold or I'll Buy It! (Joyce Thomas Team) over 10 years ago

Terry and Joyce - I am not a fan of those things either.  It seems to me that the chance that some pesticide on the end of a 100' hose will get into my kitchen faucet water...

Stephen Howell - thanks!  I just made the change!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

This is a beautiful Patio, and I would certainly want to leave it as is (except for a few flower pots)!  As the mother of a five year old, very energetic & brave, little boy...He would have more fun climbing on handrails than walking the walls.

Posted by Amy Hahn, Realtor/Broker - Crystal Coast, NC (Pine Knoll Shores Realty) over 10 years ago

I do think that we can be over safety concious, and the "to code" question is always an issue.... even inside of a home, just because it isnt up to today's codes doesnt mean it is wrong!

and that yard would cost a fortune to do from scratch!

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 10 years ago

Jay - like others I susrvived ll sorts of childhood accidents. We used to see code violations in houses in New England all the time, since many were built before there was much done in the way of formal codes.  Here as well although homes are not as old. I say if you are concerned about it, then make the necessary changesm whether it is a code violation or not.

Same true for this patio - it's beautiful as it is, but the buyer certainly has some options if safety is a concern. The sad thing is that homeonwers have to be more concerned about the other person and liability these days.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Sounds a lot like me Amy!  My kind of kid...

Robert - that was a patio that must have cost 10's of thousands!  I think it was beautiful.  And the safety issues are overcomable.  Is that a word?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

All agreed with Jeff!  Personally I just don't know how we got out of childhood, with so many safety issues just waiting to bring us down!  There are many options here for the buyer.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

I am selling a home in an area that requires an occupancy inspection. The home had one three years ago and passed. This time the code has changed and is requiring handrails that were acceptable before to be changed. That's when the code gets really annoying, when you have to meet it retroactively.

Posted by Christa Ross, Helping you buy and sell Pittsburgh's Best Homes (RE/MAX Select Realty - REALTOR and Green Homes Specialist) over 10 years ago

We all understand what was and what is now. The same things apply to every walk of life. This is a beautiful backyard. The buyers might want to contact their insurance agent and have them look at the property or have a personal umbrella.

Posted by Surprise Arizona Realtor Jim Braun Sun City Grand Active Adult Communities, Surprise AZ real estate Phoenix West Valley (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Jim Braun Sun City Grand Az ) over 10 years ago

Handrails have a safety issue all their own called children!  Some children think the handrails are to swing on, slide on, walk on, to rattle as they go up and down the stairs or any other creative way to be annoying!  

Posted by Beverly Carlson, Abilene's Staging Realtor (Carlson Properties 325-721-2429) over 10 years ago

Christa - that is ridiculous!  No home can meet every code retroactively!  And here the codes vary from county to county.

That's a good idea Jim!

Beverly - I agree!  I loved handrails!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay - good post and the back yard looked beautiful. And the handrails may be one more thing for the kids to hang on.

Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate (Compass) over 10 years ago

I think folks get too hung up on code in things like this.  It really is lovely the way it is now.  Who wants a rail to break up the view?

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 10 years ago

the only reason I would ask "is it code?" is to determine whether or not we could ask for relief under our inspection clause... but that would have no bearing on whether or not I would want/need to install appropriate guardrails and handrails...

Posted by Alan May, A moving experience! (Jameson Sotheby's International Realty) over 10 years ago

I am afraid that even with railings, guests will still find a way to fall down.  Also, children love to climb, railings will give the more opportunity to hang like monkeys.  its time to get back to parenting and teach our children what is right and what is wrong and if they fall and break arm, oh well thats part of being a kid

Posted by Lee Ann Obenauer (Metro Roberts Realty) over 10 years ago

Keep in mind that in many parts of the country zoning laws did not arrive until the 1970's. And they still may not exist in other more rural areas. Zoning laws have not always been around. (Have not always made sense either.)

Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago

It does look great the way it is...but, if I had small children, or grandchildren as is the case, I would have to put some type of railing at the steps and flower pots on the high walls.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate over 10 years ago

Hello Jay,

As always a thought provoking post. Thanks always and try to stay cool...

Posted by Bill Saunders, Realtor®, www.BillSellsHotSprings.com (Meyers Realty) over 10 years ago

Hi Jay,   Funny how things change in this business and how we accept them.   That seller probably probably owned he home for many years and never felt the need for the railings, etc.

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 10 years ago

Adding so many rails will just ruin the patio appearance.  But, I suppose, whomever owns the house can do what they want, right?

Posted by Catherine Ulrey, Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist (Keller Williams Capital City) over 10 years ago

Excellent post.  I'm a firm believer that childhood bumps and bruises are an important part of life.  I, can't help but wonder, though, if the new owners shouldn't just wear helmets when walking up and down those stairs.  That'd be much less expensive.

Posted by Chris deLambert over 10 years ago

Jay, I'm glad you and your buyers are taking a sensible approach to this issue.  Often times people go over board on safety concerns.  Common sense and good parenting go a long way.

Posted by Allen Shipman (Shipman Partners) over 10 years ago

You forgot to mention how you use to ride around in the back of pick up trucks as well! Ha!

Posted by Terrie Leighton, Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno (Ferrari-Lund Real Estate ) over 10 years ago

Hi Jay~  The handrails wouldn't look as good, but if safety is a issue, then the buyers can put them up.  It kills me when I see people riding motorcycles here and NO HELMETS.  They aren't required, so most just don't wear them.  

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) over 10 years ago

Jay - If it were me, I would install the handrails, since I have small children, but I wouldn't expect the seller to do this.  As you indicated, they've been there awhile and haven't had any issues.  :)

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 10 years ago

I vote for at least handrails on the stairs-----barriers of some sort would be a good idea too.  Everything "looks" great until the 10 year old birthday party and someone breaks their neck.  As normal as it may be for kids to break their necks----lawyers make a living off this sort of stuff.  Unfortunately it is part of living in these times.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 10 years ago

Very pretty patio I must say! Really catches your attention! I would hate to have to ruin the look but caution would probably prevail. 

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) over 10 years ago

Sharon - I agree!  As a kid I would have hung on them!

Chris Ann - that was my feeling, but as an inspector, well, I have to bring things up!  Observe and report...

Alan - in the least, it is a negotiable item.

Lee Ann - the bureaucrats cannot protect everyone from everything!

John - wow, I agree with all that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Rebecca - that would have been my solution.

Bill S. - Thanks!  And it is 97 F now, in the shade, at 7pm.  According to my office thermometer, the high today was 101!  The humidity, well, reeeeal high.

Bill G. - I understand that was the case here.

Catherine - that is my feeling, until I guess someone falls off the wall!

Chris - the owners can put a rack of helmets for all who visit the patio!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Allen - common sense these days seems hard to come by!

I did Terrie, AND the backs of convertibles with my feet on the seat!

Vickie - like I said, sometimes common sense is hard to come by!

Jason - it is so beautiful now!  Who knows what the buyers will do.

Charlie - if it was my house, I would install a nice-looking rail on those lower stairs and that's all.  I'm with you.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Cheryl - so, caution or view!  Which is it?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

But did you drink out of the hose? These days kids can't survive without bottled water.

Posted by Deborah Ryman, M.A. Feng Shui Services, Santa Cruz County over 10 years ago

Deborah - of course!  Even when the water was hot and it tasted really rubbery!  I remember that taste to this day...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Unless they plan on having a home day care... I can't imagine "code" matters.  Looks great, hope their kids stay safe.

Posted by Rob Lang, Local Expert in NE Central Kansas Real Estate Home (At Home Kansas) over 10 years ago

I get that same question all the time, and my answer is about the same.  Who cares?  I'm not doing a code inspection.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 10 years ago

1...  I think that the visual appeal would be reduced by handrails. 

2...  I think that unless the rails were pushed out over the edge, my kids (6 and 2) would try to purposely walk outside the rails along the wall. 

3...  There is danger in the world, and instead of constantly trying to eliminate it, maybe we could teach kids to be safe.

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 10 years ago


That is a really silly question most of the time. Once in a bluemoon it does make some sense.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 10 years ago

It is without a doubt a beautiful yard, but I don't really thing handrails or flowerpots are going to distract from it.  I personally would be more comfortable holding onto something...

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) over 10 years ago


Code today would require quard rails for sure. Anything over 3 risers needs rails.

Posted by Terry Chenier (Homelife Glenayre Realty) over 10 years ago


I forgot. Today steps have to be equal and within perameters. Only the first and last riser can be out by an 1/8". These will probably grandfather in.

Posted by Terry Chenier (Homelife Glenayre Realty) over 10 years ago

Good morning Ray,

It's all in the eyes of the beholder.  I think the flower pots are a great idea and rails on the steps! Lovely yard that I'm sure your buyers will enjoy!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899) over 10 years ago

Rob - in the end, I don't think it matters to my buyers.

I know Reuben.  We just observe and report.  And I pointed it all out to them!

Which may be where these sellers are coming from Lane!  And I agree with all that.

Steve - it's all minimum standard and common sense.  The common sense thing lacks sometimes.

Evelyn - at least on those lower stairs, I agree with you.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Terry - I am pretty sure the rail and stair height rules applied when this all was built.  But likely it has never been looked at professionally until now.

Dorie - you are right, all that would be a good idea.


I'm glad you both stopped by....   Jay

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Great explanation, Jay. On another note, I've really enjoyed your blogs lately. Congrats again on Fox 5! Hope to see you on there again soon.

Posted by Aaron Seekford, Ranked Top 1% Nationwide 703-836-6116 (Arlington Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago

As someone with small children, I would either not buy it or I would regretfully install rails at least where there is a patio and stairs. In the end my children are more important than the asthetics and I wouldn't care what minimum standard the code allowed for.

I would probably not bother with just the wall part though...flower pots would be a great idea there. Although they would be mighty tempting to knock over just to watch them splat I'm sure.

Unfortunately I tend to be a clutz and if anyone fell off the patio onto the lower level it would probably be me! lol


Posted by Revats Real EstateVirtual Assistance & Technology Services (REVATS.net) over 10 years ago

Jay - Gorgeous patio and the right handrails on the stairs might not take too much away from the look if it's done right.  I guess it boils down to personal preference, my children are older, so I would probably leave it as-is.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) over 10 years ago

Thanks Jay, I am reposting this now for my localism blog...it's so clearly a question that comes up and often just doesn't matter.

However, there was that ONE time, where the owners had added on without relocating the outside faucet or electric panel...they were both right smack dab in the master bedroom....stucco wall and all!




Posted by Tamara Dorris (Master Your Market Real Estate Coaching) over 10 years ago

Aaron - thank you for those nice words!  I would love to be on there again!

Kim - you and I agree - it will boil down to the buyers and what they want to do.  I don't know what they will do though!

Michelle - the whole thing was very nicely done and hard to convey in a couple of photos.  I think I would too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Thank you Tamara.  You are right, sometimes on remodeling people don't think ahead!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay - wonderful pics of that lovely backyard.

I guess I am lucky to be alive - I grew up with 9 brothers and sisters - no seatbelts - one car.  Cozy.

How about some wrought iron fencing - goes great with rock?


Posted by Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR, Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS (Desert Gold Realty - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale) over 10 years ago

Virginia - I think the buyers will decide the right thing for them.  There are many good-looking things they could do.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Breaking bones adds character to children.  Every kid should be in the hospital a couple of times while growing up.....before long good climbing trees will have to have pillows installed under them.  It is amazing that American's ever survived all the atrocities you listed above...but we did...and we did it without Anti-lock Brakes, Seatbelts, Airbags, Smoke Detectors, Auotmatic Sprinklers, Training Wheels, Helmets, Knee-Shin-Elbow pads, Etc.....

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) over 10 years ago

Damon - HA!  I knew the names of the doctors and nurses in the emergency room!  And if I had ever worn a helmet while riding my bike I would have been beaten up!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay..........I like your answer..........simple and to the point.  Does it matter?  If it's an issue, move on, if there's an alternative, work with it...........isn't too complicated.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) over 10 years ago

Yes, Roger, and I think they are moving on and will decide what to do about it.  I loved the yard.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Hi Jay - I did many of the same things as you did.  I am 52 and still in one piece.  Glad to hear you were able to survive as well. 

What a great wall to jump off of if you were a kid.  Just think, if you add a rail, how much higher the jump would be if you were standing on top of the rail before you jumped.  The rail could also be used for skateboarding and backflips as well!

Posted by Dan Quinn, Dan Quinn (The Eric Steart Group of Long & Foster Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Dan - the monkeys survive.  The catered to in life don't seem to do as well!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

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