What I'm Seeing Now

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Tippie Toes

DECK STAIRS SHOULD BE SOLID AND NOT RESTING ON THEIR TIPPIE TOES!

Go up a stair case.  Do you feel more or less comfortable going up while on your whole foot or tip toes?
Go down a stair case.  Do you feel more or less comfortable going down while on your whole foot or heel?

Suspiciously, this deck installer thinks these deck stairs look and feel more comfortable on their TIPPIE TOES!

This reduces the structural integrity of these stair stringers DRAMATICALLY.  

Look carefully at the photo to the left.  That upper stringer is cracking. 

And peek at how well the lower stringer is attached to this landing!

And the quality of the nail job where the nails are not even penetrating into what they are intended to and are splitting the wood.

Splitting wood is not strong wood.

The stringers all over the deck were nailed like this.

SUCH AN INSTALLATION IS NOT STRONG!  OR PROFESSIONAL.

Unfortunately the other two stringers have even less surface resting on the landing.

Don't bring anything heavy up these stairs.  That includes two heavy people helping each other up the staircase!

Additionally, due to the excellent nailing job, the whole landing has moved.

The stair stringer above is at least resting (mostly) flush on the landing below it, but the entirety of the stringer is not on top of the landing!

Any more shifting, which is more likely than not, and it could shift off.

Deck construction really lacks in this area.

As I read home inspector posts nationwide, it seems to me, deck construction lacks pretty much everywhere!

My recommendation:  DECKS MUST BE PROPERLY CONSTRUCTED TO BEGIN WITH BECAUSE OVER TIME THEY MOVE, GET WEAKER, AND THE WOOD SHRINKS AND WARPS IF IT IS NOT WELL PROTECTED FROM THE SUN!  A deck that is nailed and those nails are relied on to be structural is not a safe deck.  It is not a professional deck.  When you see one it must be evaluated professionally and corrected.  A ballerina on her tippie toes is very elegant and pretty.  But not so for a stair stringer, however pretty the paint job!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 68 commentsJay Markanich • June 29 2012 03:46AM

Comments

Good morning, Jay....that stringer looks like a tragic accident waiting to happen....the wait is probably not as long as one would think....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 6 years ago
Great blog and great job. Keep up the good work and good luck to you this year. Thanks.
Posted by JOSH EVANS *JoshEvansHomes 516-655-5000 (Village Properties of Mineola, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Hi Jay!  Yet another unsafe deck! So glad that I got mine fixed this year.  It was not showing signs like you illustrate but over time it would have.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) almost 6 years ago

It definitely is Barbara.  And it will get worse over time.

Thanks Josh.

Kathryn - the string continues!  And will continue on and on and on!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, looks like the Uncle Bob the handyman that Clint often has problems with has a realtive in your area. Uncle Bob sure gets around. Have seen some evidence he has relatives in Southwest Florida!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker (Wayne M Martin) almost 6 years ago

Looks like it was built by a weekend warior with a hammer and a power saw.  I thought the paint job did a good job covering it up though--HA.

Posted by Gary Frimann, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) almost 6 years ago

Good morning Jay. This is very interesting and scary. Your pictures really drive the explanations home. Nicely done.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 6 years ago

Uncle Bob has been used for many years by home inspectors, Wayne, to describe somebody who does schmuck work.  I know he has been around here for a couple of decades at least!

They painted it nicely for the sale Gary.

Thanks Sheila.  Deck safety is critically important, especially when you are buying somebody else's!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Seems like tippie toes really puts all the stress on a smaller point....not very smart regardless of the way it looks. I prefer safe over cute!

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, ... a small office, delivering big service! (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) almost 6 years ago

I'm with you Gary.  Every time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Oh Boy Jay. Good points.  I've got to go take a closer look at my deck now. (LOL)

Posted by Bobbie Smith, 570-242-1891 almost 6 years ago

Bobbie - go out and bounce, here and there!  Let us know how things come out!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Good Morning Jay! It was a very interesting and scary catch. 

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) almost 6 years ago

It was nice to meet you yesterday Ritu.  KP sent me a note this morning saying the post was "cool."  I guess he approves too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, We bought my father-in-law's house without an inspection to allow him to live here with us.  The back deck looked a lot like your pictures so we removed it with a stable set of stairs instead! My husband had helped to build it many  many years ago, but it was definitely not safe now!

Posted by Carol Faaland-Kronmaier, PhD, e-PRO, Manville, Hillsborough, Somerset NJ (Weichert, Realtors; Hillsborough) almost 6 years ago

Carol - well, things deteriorate over time.  Make it sound, make it sound!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, it looks like another case where the person who built it didn't get a building permit. I don't believe this would have passed an inspection.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 6 years ago

I don't know Michael.  Might could!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, it will all be fine until they dolly the new refrigerator into the house

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Yikes! Another deck with issues. It would be better to jump off the deck than using the stairs. At least when you jump you will know when your going to hit the ground.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) almost 6 years ago

Never string along a stringer...it has to pull its weight..per Jay

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 6 years ago

Mr. Shadow - that is EXACTLY the example I proposed to the buyer at the inspection!

Rob - this could collapse in unpredictable ways?  Is that what you're saying?

Richie - or string along a buyer of said stringer!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

That deck seems to be one party away from the emergency room for invitees

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) almost 6 years ago

Orange deck?  it should've been red. .to match the red cross . . . 

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) almost 6 years ago

And then all the deck codes will change again Fernando!  Orange cross?  You're right, not the right ring to it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Hi Jay.

Looks like they mis-calculated the length a little. LOL

It's a wonder the thing did'nt slip off and get some one hurt.

Good find. Gotta love the DIY Builders.

Have a great day in Northern Virginia.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 6 years ago

I can't believe people continue to cut corners when their is a safety issue.  This is a trip to the ER waiting to happen.

Posted by Chris and Dick Dovorany, Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty ( Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida) almost 6 years ago

The DIY builders are everywhere Clint!  They measured once and cut twice, for sure.

C&D - maybe not a trip yet, but when someone trips it will be...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Another good example Jay. In a previous life I lived on the Oregon coast where it was very humid and dry rot was a problem. A deck like that would not last 5 years.

Posted by Wayne Jackson, North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake (Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109) almost 6 years ago

That is just not safe, it should be taken down and re-done the Right and Safe way. It is so terrible to see and hear about all these incidents with home structure that makes you wonder why those builders are still in business.

Posted by Bud & Beth McKinney, Cary/Raleigh/Apex NC - The Team That Cares, RE/MAX United (RE/MAX UNITED) almost 6 years ago

Good morning Jay.  Another great post that clearly teaches us what to look for.  Thanks for the warning.  

Posted by Linda Blumenthal, CBR - Certified Buyers Representative (The Corcoran Group - Sales Agent - 631-466-4087) almost 6 years ago

Good morning Jay,

I guess this stair "professional" hoped that the bright paint would be distracting enough that no one would notice the construction quality (or lack thereof).

Have a fabulous weekend!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) almost 6 years ago
Yikes! That looks like a YouTube video waiting to happen! Is the company who installed this deck still in business, or was it one of those do-it-yourselfers?
Posted by Jayne Esposito, SRES, GREEN (Coldwell Banker ) almost 6 years ago

What! No exposed 120v cable wiring running under there somewhere? Maybe an open junction box with exposed pig tail wiring? I'm finding more and more decks sealed with fixed lattice panels, screen mesh and finished with a dense hedge growth.

My first thought? What are they hiding?

Great post as always Jay.... 

Posted by Will Handley, Certified Master Inspection Services (Progressive Inspection Service) almost 6 years ago

Jay, these are the types of issues most buyers would miss, and another great reason why you should have a professional home inspector inspect a home you are contemplating purchasing...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) almost 6 years ago

good one. . .how many times do we see your examples?   I think too many.

Posted by Stephanie McCarty, REALTOR (McCarty Homes) almost 6 years ago

Jay -- looks like they wanted that landing to be a certain size (so the refrigerator would turn?) but didn't want to spend the money to make it as large as it should be for the stringers to land properly.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) almost 6 years ago

Jay: I've actually seen someone go through a deck (not the part that you show, but the main deck) and it was pretty scary. Just imagine, you are standing with ONE foot on a plank that breaks and you go down... instantly. And what happens to the rest of your body? Contact!!! Ouch... So now I am VERY conscious about decks in particular when I list or show a house. And thank you for pointing this out.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) almost 6 years ago

Jay...I hate to see such awful jobs like this. Thank goodness we have inspectors who point out and take photos of such things..ugh.

Posted by Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty, Florida Space Coast Homes (Waves Realty) almost 6 years ago

Great pictures to bring your point home Jay. This post was perfetly done.

Posted by Adam Brett, The Adam and Eric Group, Fullerton's Finest (The Adam and Eric Group) almost 6 years ago

And when they were done they stepped back to admire their job and how clever they were with the stringers, even though they probably didn't know that's what they are called. The paint covers up the red spots from the fingers that were struck with that hammer.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 6 years ago

Jay:

I always think Yikes! when you show your photos of jobs not well done.  Why haven't the owners of the property noticed the shoddy job.  it is definitely unsafe.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) almost 6 years ago

Thanks Wayne.  In a previous life I think I was a catepillar or millipede.

B&B - I don't know how this will play out, but it sure is not safe now!

Thank YOU Linda!  We try to be instructive.

Lisa - are you suggesting the deck equivalent of lipstick on a pig?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jayne - I would have no idea.  The house, and probably the deck, are 12 years old.

Hey Will, good to hear from you!  What?  Hiding stuff under the deck?  What you say?  By the way, the bald eagle is my favorite animal.  I pulled around the curve of a country road not long ago and through the barbed-wire fence was an eagle, standing very proud, and looked about 40" tall!  He had a look, like I was in his bubble and I needed to leave!  He was gorgeous.  Turning he just flew away.

And thanks!

The latest example of many Chris.  Tomorrow's post - why to ALWAYS have a pre-drywall inspection.

Stephanie - we inspectors see this kind of thing more frequently than the average home buyer understands.

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Steven - I think they measured once and cut twice!

Hella - that would be frightening no matter the height of the deck.  Says rotten wood to me!

Jeffrey - that's the point here, to inform and instruct.  Photos help a lot.

Thank you Adam.  That is high praise indeed.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Ed - are you suggesting lipstick on a deck?  It's all about the cover up!  Ask the Attorney General!

Evelyn - I find that most people can look at something and not know it's correct or incorrect!  And I have to ask, can I live in the upper turret room at your house?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

great tips

Posted by Nogui Aramburo, Real Estate Professional in the Raleigh Area (Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS®) almost 6 years ago

Thanks Nogui.  We try!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

I really apprecaite your examples and am sure your clients are thankful they used a home inspector!

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) almost 6 years ago

Jay -- Very intersting... I always remind buyers that we want the inspector to evaluate the deck.. It is an importnat part of the home inspection

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 6 years ago

Jay - Yet another reason why it's so important to have an inspection.  Why would we want a deck built dangerously?

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) almost 6 years ago

I sold a house years ago that had a balcony that was so unsafe the seller actually agreed to put a new one on before closing. No argument at all.

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (REALTY EXECUTIVES TUCSON ELITE) almost 6 years ago

Good morning Jay.  Yes, it looks like there are a few "opportunities" here.  Oy vey, what a mess.  Looks like the whole thing needs to be torn down and remade.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 6 years ago

Joy - I think they were too.  The realtor is Ritu Desai, of AR.

Joan - decks demonstrate more problems than not.  And especially as they age.

Christine - we wouldn't!  So not it might be time to correct things!

Jon - interesting course of action.  We know what we know!  What do you know!

At least the staircase Debbie.  But I don't know where it will go from here.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Good morning Jay congratulations on the feature.  I did at one time like walking on my tippie toes but its been awhile.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 6 years ago

AAAAAAAAGH, what the heck? I love the fact it's been painted since the splitting!

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) almost 6 years ago

Thanks James.  I did too, but not when walking up and down stairs!

David - gotta fill the gaps!  What better to use then paint?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay - Have you seen the recent video of the bridal party photographed on the rickety pier over a placid lake?  Your comment about two heavy people on the staircase, reminded me of that nightmare scenario. . .It wouldn't be pretty!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 6 years ago

I have listed several houses that I asked the sellers to block the entrance to dangerous decks. That includes nailing doors shut and putting caution tape up.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) almost 6 years ago

Not too safe here. This will cause me to look twice before going up them.

Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic (www.mrbrownsellsgr.com) almost 6 years ago

Jay --  I have heard of so many deck collapses in recent years, especially during parties when the weight of many people is just too much for the structure that likely was not constructed properly in the first place.  The buyers are lucky you found this. That situation was only going to get worse.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

Perhaps it should have been painted a "caution yellow" instead.  :)

 

Great post about step construction safety Jay.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) almost 6 years ago

Oh no Myrl!  I can only imagine.  If that is on You Tube it probably went viral.

Wow, Dave.  That sends a message!

Robert - during the entire inspection I would not go up or down!

Barbara - those collapses initiate code changes, almost all the time.  And they do get worse with time.

GQ - that or police tape!  And thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Yes, BRIGHT lipstick...poor little pig (LOL)

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) almost 6 years ago

Good call on both stairs.  The left with the nails . . . nails??  Who uses nails these days??  I've seen a lot of professional jobs done with deck screws.  And the one of the right . . . absolutely scary.

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) almost 6 years ago

Lisa - the pig needed sunglasses.

Carla - there are proper hangers and techniques, that involve nails too, but overall this was loose and improperly measured!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, that is a scary looking deck! As I told you last week since my friend died from falling from a broken rail I do not trust any of them. 

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) almost 6 years ago

I believe you Tom.  It makes one think twice about leaning against the rail.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

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