What I'm Seeing Now

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Yep, Definitely A Trip Hazard!

A recent home inspection found two locations that wanted to reach out and trip someone - yep, definitely a trip hazard!

The first was a very fun location!  Right at the top of 13 concrete stairs!

These pavers don't look like they were flush to the top of the landing ever.

But certainly, since they have settled, they are a bigger problem now!

Yep, definitely a trip hazard!

It's an easy fix, but why was that not done? 

The second had its own issues, including a trip potential.

Now, this staircase has its own problems:

1.  It settling dramatically and pulling away from the house.

2.  It is covering the wood framing underneath the top two stairs.

3.  It is allowing water behind it, and onto that wood, providing a nice, dark, damp, protected space for termite activity.  Look under that white exhaust tube to see one such area.

4.  There is no handrail or guardrail, and there are five risers.

5.  Stepping out the door you land on a platform that is only 6" deep just outside the edge of the door!  Hmmm, slip and fall potential?  The platform stepping out the door should be 30" or more.

6.  That is a high-efficiency water heater exhaust tube!  That means it runs often.  And it's right under the only door to the rear yard!  That door is off the kitchen.  Do you think that every now and then that door might be opened so fresh air can be let in?

I LOVE the smell of carbon monoxide in the morning!  And evening!  Oh, wait, you can't actually smell it. 

I LOVE the taste of carbon monoxide in my mouth in the morning!  And evening!  Oh, wait, you can't actually taste it.

There is a reason those exhaust tubes are not supposed to be close to doors and windows, but I digress...

That exhaust tube also provides a trip hazard!

When someone is stepping out and down, or coming up and using that corner as a handrail (!), that tube is reaching out and really trying to trip the unfortunate soul!

Yep, definitely a trip hazard!

Of course there was no permit for those stairs.  I have seen this guy's work before - the infamous ice-cream-cone staircase.  He is no pro.

His line is probably, "This is just landscaping and you don't need a permit!"  Of course that's a lie.  But the people buy it. 

This staircase covers a basement window (another !), and looking out at the lovely view many large mud structures could be seen. 

THESE WEREN'T JUST TUNNELS!  I MEAN APARTMENT BUILDINGS!  THEY WERE HUGE!

So, there's a lot going on here!

Unfortunately the weight from these stairs were putting such pressure on the framing, and that window, that it could not be opened to get a good photo!

My recommendation:  falling is one of the most prevalent home accidents.  And that's indoors and out!  Falling injures, particularly the elderly, and happens every, every day!  Why allow the situation to exist that promotes falling "accidents?"  And, in this case, two situationS!  Safety is a prime concern on home inspections, and when I see a safety issue it gets reported.  And, sometimes, blogged about!

 

 

 

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 42 commentsJay Markanich • March 21 2013 03:41AM

Comments

Hi Jay,

That's a lot of issues with this home. What about the handrailings? I did'nt see anything for the three steps leading to the door.

Good find. At first glance one would think everything is just "hunky dory" LOL

Have a great day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 5 years ago

That's right Clint.  That is mentioned in #4 above - there are five risers.  Those ice-cream-cone stairs are never hunky dory!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

man i can just see myself tripping over that lip and falling!!  I would have fixed that long ago

Posted by John & Irma Nelson, San Antonio Real Estate Agents - San Antonio Homes (San Antonio Real Estate Broker/Agent with Get It Sold Realty) over 5 years ago

GEEZ!!!  I get dizzy just looking at those steps with no railing. 

No!  Wait!  I just fell down the basement steps.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Steps even with handrails can be dangerous. My daughter slipped down one step but caught herself on the handrail but still broke her arm just above the elbow.  One step equaled one broken arm. 

Posted by Richard Burge Realty/ Burge Homes, Broker in Charge/Owner (Richard Burge Realty/Burge Homes) over 5 years ago

J&I - these are some serious issues.  Many accidents in homes are set up by the people living there.  Like this...

Lenn - and they are probably safe steps!  I bet you didn't set yourself up for that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Wow, Richard.  She must have twisted oddly.  Sounds like without the handrail it might have been worse!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

That set of brick stairs is beautiful! Mud tubes? Has someone been untidy. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jim - I wrote a post a couple of years ago called "Beauty and the Beasts."  Same thing, brick stairs up over the sill and rim joist.  Same infestation, but the termite company had been there the day before saying the house was free.  I have never seen mud structures as big as I did here.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

My dogs always try to trip me up and I NEED that handrail. Those photos give me the willies.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) over 5 years ago

Jay, these brick steps must also be a lot of fun in the Winter time during icy and snow conditions.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 5 years ago

Hella - ours does too, making staircases into races!

Mike - that rear staircase is a disaster all around.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Someone was more interested in a look of luxury and overlooked a few things like safety and protecting the structure

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 5 years ago

Something like that Ed!  Personally I don't like those ice cream cones!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Good post.  I will have to keep a watchful eye on exterior stairs.

Posted by Keith Lawrence, ABR, CDPE, SFR, 203K Specialist (RE/MAX Properties) over 5 years ago

Especially walking up and down them Keith!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Geeze, Jay!  What's a little trip anyway?  And just because the steps are concrete or brick?  If you head isn't hard enough to take a little whack, well ...

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Pat - it might be a trip to the hospital after a trip out the door!  Everyone needs a little vacation.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

It reminds me of when it rains and retail stores do not put out rubber mats. The result? Slip and falls....good post and thank you J

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 5 years ago

They remind me of The Exorcist stairs. .I don't really know why?

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) over 5 years ago

If it wasn't so serious it would be funny! Can you say Humpty Dumpty? Rolling down those 13 stairs is not so bad... it's slamming into that wall at the bottom that will get you!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

Fall accidents are a serious concern, one that all contractors need to be concerned with when doing work on homes, apartments, and commercial buildings. Accidents happen, you don't want to be the cause of it.

Love the photos Jay, great feature post today.

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) over 5 years ago

Dang!  That top photo looks as though it could eventually be a death sentence or a crippling fall!  Just imagine tripping and doing a header down the stairs. 

Posted by Roger Stensland, Let's Move! (The Cascade Team Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Jay  It could be the start of a sinkhole

Posted by Karen Kruschka, - "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS" (RE/MAX Executives) over 5 years ago

But around here they sure are quick to spread the salt during snows Richie!

Didn't see the movie Fernando, but if it does, it does!

It is dangerous all around Fred.  Those rear stairs are just as bad.

Thanks Tom.  Some accidents are planned, it seems, and don't "just happen."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I did Roger!  That's the first thing I showed my clients when they came to the house.

That is a common spot for sinking Karen, but when pavers are there it becomes very obvious.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Goodness, when I look at that top picture, I think, someone could trip into that hole (grave) and all someone would need do is toss a little dirt in there, and put a tombstone on top. . .tsk, tsk!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 5 years ago

Myrl - it's a big deal waiting to happen!  It is easy to fix however.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, sometimes the following conversation withe the buyer is appropriate:  "Remember---you guys are under 30 and it is daylight.  Your parents are not under thirty and will be visiting you after dark." :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Charlie - this buyer is 69 and his wife 68.  They were very interested in what I had to say.  Oh, he looked like he could win the Charlie Buell look-alike contest the next time they have one.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Who doesn't like a good trip. Stop spoiling the fun.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 5 years ago

Often folks get focused on the "artistic" elements rather than what is safe.  An excellent post which will aid in dtermining what is safe and what is not.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 5 years ago

Okay lots going on in this one! Wow. 

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) over 5 years ago

Jay, I'm thinking 13 concrete stairs could leave a permanent crease in your forehead.  Oy!  Like I need more scares on my face. 

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 5 years ago

The top picture looks like the funny guy on the Allstate commercials (Mayhem) would have a ball with that one!! YIKES!!  GREAT Read ... thanks for sharing!

Posted by The Temple Team, Specializing in Lake Norman/Charlotte/Charleston (THE TEMPLE TEAM) over 5 years ago
Jay, thank you for sharing the post. The first one looks kind of innocent but don't under estimate the danger. He second one looks like an afterthought kind of work/addition.
Posted by Wika Hutchinson, Broker, CRIS, SFR, CDPE over 5 years ago

Rob - there will be more fun today.  The buyers, and agent, are meeting a termite guy there today.

Joan - safety is the crux of codes (which are minimal standards) and very focused on in home inspections.  And thanks!

Erica - and I fear that a lot of what is going on is covered with drywall in the basement!

Mike - nobody does, except maybe a really mean pirate.  Scars help there.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Kent - that mayhem guy is very funny.  You're right about those stairs!

Wika - the first is an easy fix. the second not so easy!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Morning Jay Uncle Bob does have his way now and then.  He liked the way it came out however he agrees there are some problems but his excuse as always is that he was just trying to save them some money. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 5 years ago

These guys are supposed pros James, who go neighborhood to neighborhood.  They charge a lot of money for this stuff.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay ~ All I can say is OUCH!

Posted by Diane M. Phillips Realtor 443-286-4365, Specializing in Carroll Co., MD (Frankly Real Estate Inc.) over 5 years ago

Brevity is the soul of wit, Diane!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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