What I'm Seeing Now

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Stairs - Built Today The Code Requires A Newer Standard

Stairs - built today the code requires a newer standard.

It used to be that stairs were higher and narrower.  They were supposed to be no higher than 8 1/4" and the tread 9" wide.  And the height of each step could not vary by more than 3/8"

Things have changed.  Built today  the height requirement is 7 3/4" or less (baby boomers with bad knees wanted that one I bet) and to accommodate larger feet the tread width is extended to 10".  Still the height of each step should not vary by more than 3/8".

I said "built today."

"Built today"  is a term in our vernacular, our way of speaking, our everyday language that means "currently," or "in our time."

It does not literally mean built today...

I say that because on a pre-drywall inspection I saw a new staircase built last month.

That qualifies it as meeting the standard of "built today."

IT IS MADE OF CONCRETE.

The stair height varied from 5" at the bottom to 10" at the top!  The tread depth varied from 8 1/2" to 5"!  And the width on the side nearest the camera is different than the far side!

Built today  the code requires a newer standard, but neither the older or newer code would approve of this!  Is this a joke?  Maybe it's a test to see if people are paying attention.

I can hardly wait to see how this one is resolved (short of tearing this out and starting again).  Concrete cannot be veneered on top of other concrete if it is less than 4".  It will crack and break.  It will not stick long term.  If they try that I know what the final inspection report will say. 

And if it says that, guess who the builder will be angry with?

My recommendation:  people often ask me what things are typically found on a pre-drywall inspection.  The answer is - nothing is typical!  There is no consistency of findings.  Things found can be anything and everything!  I don't remember seeing a front porch staircase like this, so this might be atypical.  But still, it lends to the fun of the experience!  My job never gets dull.  Especially the way things are built today...

 

 

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 44 commentsJay Markanich • September 18 2014 04:07AM

Comments

Good morning Jay,

Wow..I'm amazed they think this one is going to fly! The builder certainly knows better and shouldn't be surprised you nailed him on this..

Posted by Dorie Dillard, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) almost 4 years ago

Tear it out and start all over again.

Those steps are dangerous.  The top step is too steep and the step below would require a "side step".

What on earth were they thinking???

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

Stairway to heaven... wonder if it is up to BOCA ADA specs?

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) almost 4 years ago

Oh yes, this is a disaster and looks like they need to start again.  What a mess.  Oh, and I didn't realize the codes had changed.  Thx for letting me know.  Glad the 3/8" hasn't changed.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 4 years ago

Those stairs are something, unfortunately i see that often, the second step is the killer

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) almost 4 years ago

Your picture really brings the point home. How silly that looks!

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) almost 4 years ago

Jay, that does not pass my "goofy-as-heck" test.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 4 years ago

Often cosmetic and function meet-up and one of them needs tweeking. If you add code to it...whole new ball game

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 4 years ago

This is exactly why you need inspections on new construction... there are too many places that something can get all messed up, no matter what the builder says about their quality control.

Posted by AJ Heidmann ~ CRS, YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert (McEnearney Associates, Inc.) almost 4 years ago

Your average person, not even a home inspector, would look at those steps and go "Are you kidding me?" 

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) almost 4 years ago

If home buyers don't get a home inspection when buying a new construction home they will be missing out on gems like this one. smh

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) almost 4 years ago

Jay: Obviously the homeowner had a hand in pouring those stairs. He should be ashamed at the outcome. Obviously, he did not want the stairs to jut out into the driveway.

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty National) almost 4 years ago

Good morning, Jay....I think the mason had a tough night the night before he put those forms in....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 4 years ago

Jay, welcome back.  Always look forward to your posts.

This one is a real stand out.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) almost 4 years ago

Jay,
I tripped just looking at your picture of the steps. Anyone not paying attention going up the steps will soon be horizontal.
Mel

Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

My seller several years ago screwed and glued an additional 3/4 inch of plywood  onto the sub-floor.  He was quite pleased with not being able to hear the foot traffic upstairs, took the squeaks and bounce out of the floors as he walked across.  However, on the stairs that 3/4 inch always made him trip as he climbed the stairs.  I would have never believed that the extra 5/8 inch or so would have created a trip zone.

Posted by Dwight Puntigan, Dwight Puntigan (DRP Realty, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Wow, whoever formed these up did not know what they were doing. This shouldn't pass any inspection!

Posted by Aaron Poling, Working to get YOU the BEST Deal! (Long & Foster) almost 4 years ago

Can't imagine who let that staircase slide by.  Just eyeballing it you can tell it needs to be re done.  

Posted by Kevin Mackessy, Dedicated. Qualified. Local. (Blue Olive Properties, LLC) almost 4 years ago

That staircase is an accident waiting to happen.  I have nearly tumbled down stairs where one rise is higher than the rest.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) almost 4 years ago

That looks like a DIY job and an accident waiting to happen. No pride in workmanship!

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, ... a small office, delivering big service! (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Dorie - they will probably say this is just the first stage, and there is more to come.  Ummmm...

They aren't thinking.  As you know Lenn, my sarcastic word for this stuff is 7-11 Construction.

This isn't meeting anyone's specs Andrew!

That will never change Debbie.  As we go up stairs the brain makes a mental map of the height and enough variance will cause tripping.

You see this often Scott?  Wow.  The whole thing is a killer!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

That was taken at 630am Jill.  This is another builder special - calling just before 5pm to say the buyer needs to have an inspection in the morning.  An old trick.  So I slammed him in very early.

Geez, Charlie - then what does pass it?

Richie - this puppy needs much more than tweaking!

AJ - I don't know how this could have gone this long.  What a mess.

Suzanne - I saw it pulling up to the house.  It was the first thing I showed my client, who didn't need much explanation to see how poorly done it is.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Pamela - and this is a gem!  Good word!

S&N - this is new construction and the homeowner had not been to it in a while.  He was as amazed as I!

Barbara - he should have called in sick to the 7-11 parking lot...

Stephen - I'm still around!  And this was another fun post.

Mel - and have a nice trip!  You are right about the horizontal ending too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Dwight - that's because the brain memorized the height of the other steps below.  Most people would trip after ascending the stairs.

That is for sure Aaron.  These types of things simply do not happen when professionals are on the job.

Kevin - I saw it pulling up to the house, and it was early morning and still dark!

Chris Ann - there is mental memory step to step.  Hence the code that all stair heights stay within 3/8" of each other.

Gary - that guy has no idea what he (or they) is doing.  This is a do over, for sure.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

What IS that, Jay?  Certainly an accident waiting to happen for anyone not paying attention.  Looks like the mason was under the influence of something.

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 4 years ago

People wonder why the code is so rigi like the raise can't vary more then 3/8 of an inch. Well when you experience it first hand you learn why quickly. There is this apartment complex that every time I go up the stairs I stumbled the first 3-4 time going up. It was because the 4 step was one inch different then the first two steps. After  3-4 stumbles I learn to walk these stairs  different BIGGER STEPS!   Great post Jay.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) almost 4 years ago

It is surely that Barbara.  Poor work indeed.  Under the influence of lala land.

Chuck - that mental height memory really works and people trip all the time because of it.  Good thing you remember those stairs!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Well they might be able to salvage that but it will have a longer landing and a lot mor rebar

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 4 years ago

Maybe a nice long ramp Ed?  Or escalator!  That would work.  This is an interesting feature of the house!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Looks like the building contractor needs to get his eyes checked.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 4 years ago
At least check the stairs every few years on a commonsense level.
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) almost 4 years ago

Jay Markanich well, this is a safety hazard, correct?

(And just wondering why some of them don't get the job done professionally, as per standard.)

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) almost 4 years ago

Jay, Holy smokes that is a mess. There is just no reason for that kind of work.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

You get all the fun inspections Jay. I love seeing things like this, it is almost unbelievable.

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 4 years ago

Eyes and spatial perception Joan!

Laura - these stairs are concrete so once done, they are done!  Best to do them right...

Quite the safety concern Praful!  Why not do it professionally?  That's what the builder is supposed to do.

Don - there was nothing straight or consistent.  Pulling up to the house I laughed in my car.

Tom - just when you think you've seen it all ... well, you haven't seen it all!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

I know you see things wrong everyday and some that just needs to be updated.  But this come on man the builder is not blind but it looks like he hoped you were. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 4 years ago

This one is hard to miss James!  But my client had not noticed it when visiting the house.  So I asked him to climb up...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

They would have been better off with a slide...ramp....anything other than this major trip hazzard

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) almost 4 years ago

A ramp would be great S&D!  And easier to install, for sure.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

That's a great picture. I remember a set of steps here that took 3 times to get right. Some poor guy got stuck doing allot of jackhammering. 

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) almost 4 years ago

Jay, ouch!  This one makes my knees hurt!  Somebody was drunk or stoned.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

That's the only way Rob.  You can't veneer it!

Pat - the steps made my knees hurt too!  What poor work.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Ok, even I can see this isn't right, LOL.  Oh the things you must see!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) almost 4 years ago

We do have fun Sharon!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

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