In order to completely finish the pre-drywall inspection I wanted to see how a space would be completed at the end of construction. That required we go to the model home of this particular elevation.
This is a row of townhome condos, with designs that leave no room in front or behind for the AC compressors.
That puts the compressors on the roofs. You can see the trap door to the spot in the photo on the left.
This is fine. Difficult to get to for service or periodic inspections, but doable.
So, during the inspection and learning this fact, I wanted to go up to see the space.
It was fine, but I really wanted to know how they were going to finish it off, particularly the roof underneath. I had lots of questions.
What is the roof surface to be? Would there be a slight slope allow for water to drain? Were there columns or guardrail there and if so, how are they to be attached to the lower surface?
So when we concluded here we walked over to the model home.
Immediately I noticed something I didn't like.
The way they finished it off there was very little space provided at the bottom of the access ladder.
And, SIGNIFICANTLY, how the ladder was constructed was a set up for an accident, even a slip and fall.
Why? Because the rungs are nailed into, and are at the same angle as, the support struts.
THERE IS NO PERCH YOU CAN FEEL WITH YOUR FEET.
On a ladder the rungs are at a different angle than are the supports on the sides. One reason for that is comfort, obviously.
But the other is so you can feel where you are.
In this case your feet are at a funny angle coming down and at the edges it is easy to slip over the side.
I saw that before going up, and mentioned it to my client. Then, coming down, I felt was I imagined to be a problem. And I was right. Coming down I cautioned him.
Removing myself from the attic and going into the bathroom on the third level below to wash up, I heard a crash and yelp!
It was loud!
I thought Zamboni, not his real name, was really hurt and broke something bad!
Looking into the laundry room I saw his foot sticking down about 18"! Fortunately he was okay.
Laughing I said that our suspicion was correct - this is a design flaw and an accident waiting to happen!
Exceptionally glad Zamboni wasn't hurt, and ALSO glad it wasn't me (!) who fell through the ceiling, we went to the office to admit the deed.
I had a slip and fall client, and he's not a lawyer!
My recommendation: sometimes you get a feeling that something can happen. But often that feeling isn't confirmed so quickly! And with not-so-bad results. It might be good that this happened so the builder can correct the problem before it happens again in another house!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560