All of the houses on this block have the same situation at the rear door - it is about 4' high from the ground. So something needs to be done - stairs of some kind, small deck, maybe a patio.
When buyers want to do their own thing the builder will leave some form of barrier so the rear door cannot be used until the rear exit is accommodated by the homeowner.
Coming around to the back yard, what did I spy with my little eye?
What I call the "ice cream cone" staircase!
My first problem with this kind of thing is that it represents a permanent termite invitation. Maybe not now, but soon to come.
The stairs extend over the siding to right under the door. This means that they rise over the sill plate, rim joist and they cover the already-rotting wood trim under the door.
Obviously all that is a problem.
But this staircase is a major safety hazard as well!
People exit that door on the left side!
That means they step down onto LESS than 12" of step surface! Doors should open to a platform of 36" or more, for safety of standing and moving.
How fun is that!
This is the makings of an immediate tumble!
Even coming up it is a danger because
1. there is no handrail
2. there is a 3" lip entering the house. We call that a trip hazard!
The stairs are rounded, so coming up or going down anyone, young and old, is in danger of missing the stair and slipping and falling. Wet or dry, ice or no ice!
Rounding up or rounding down, an accounting needs to be made!
One more thing!
See the candle lamp on the right side of the staircase? It is a candle lamp. But it is also hiding something.
Some kind of a screened hole.
I have no idea as to the purpose of this hole - venting perhaps? Who knows what people are thinking.
Glued into place with attractive and decorative poly foam (one of mankind's many wonders) perhaps the worse thing is that this opening will let in lots of moisture, even rain water, next to the house.
Why is that bad?
Because it further exacerbates the possibility of termites!
This staircase certainly provides the dark, climate-controlled, wet space termites so love!
And it covers wood inside the house wonderfully!
It is adding wet too! Through this hole and as the staircase settles and pulls away from the house, as it is already doing.
Inside and under this location is a finished bathroom (see the vent beside the staircase?), so if there is termite activity it is hidden by framing and drywall.
I should say more termite food and drywall.
My recommendation: almost certainly this staircase did not have a permit prior to installation. So my clients inherit that fact! Sometimes things look good and provide an immediate appeal to the eye. In fact, sometimes, despite all that eye candy, they are dangers waiting to announce themselves. Have a home inspector check these things out, and make sure there are permits when permanent structures are put in place. Your client is buying that permanent structure!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560