What I'm Seeing Now


A Front Staircase Disaster. Lean To The Left. Lean To The Right.

A front staircase disaster.  Lean to the left.  Lean to the right.

Just looking at it from the car pulling up I knew I was in for some interesting work.

And looking around the neighborhood I could see this house wasn't alone.  Some houses had similar schlock work (apparently builder done) and others had really good staircases that were newer and really well done!

Since my X-ray vision has not improved with age I am left to wonder what is going on here.

The three columns on the right side certainly have sunken.

Is it a footer problem underground?

Is it a rot problem underground?

They have all sunken about the same amount.  And again, looking around the neighborhood this is a problem many are faced with.

But beyond that I went up the stairs to find them exceptionally bouncy.

I don't like bouncy stairs!

They just seemed to groan under my all-muscle 225 pounds.

Actually that isn't a lot of weight!  They should not be straining at all!

Why so weak?

The answer is underneath!

The stair stringers were all connected oh so well!

A rusty toe nail here.  Another there.

And veeeola!

That puppy is done!  Hey, good job guys!  Whatcha say we get some lunch?

The center stringer was separated about 1/2".

The other two were similar.

That will make for a bouncy experience, up and down!

Can you imagine having your friends over and whoomp! 

Down goes Frazier!  Down goes Frazier!

When my clients arrived I would not let people go up the stairs except one at a time.  The realtor said they all went up before.  I told him I didn't care.  And that I would prefer that they use the back door.  He said don't be silly.  We'll use the front stairs. 

Alrighty then!  About all I can do it hoist the red flag.  If people choose not to care, so be it!

This is my client's first house.  When I showed him the stairs later, he, and his father, both had wide eyes.  It appears I was right.  When we left they all went one at a time!

My recommendation:  if you can see the problem pulling up to the house you know it will be a fun ride.  It's important that people understand that home inspectors are not looking to make obvious problems worse, or say things to give them something juicy for the report.  Sometimes things truly are safety issues and should be viewed in that light.  This is a safety issue of the first order.  This was identified on the report as a dangerous safety issue of prime importance and immediate concern.  And seeing the same problem replayed over and over around the neighborhood is pathetic.




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 24 commentsJay Markanich • December 21 2014 12:04AM


Good morning Jay. Modern medicine has developed safer ways to keep gene pools like that from spreading. My recommendation, find the idiots and take them to the closest urologist.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 5 years ago

I might only have to go as far as the nearest 7-11 Michael.

And good gosh, go to bed!

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

Not good at all.  Whomever they get to fix those steps should be recommended to the neighbors.  Doesn't look good.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 5 years ago

Judging from what I saw Debbie, this may require a total replacement!  From this porch I counted five other completely replaced porches!

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

Just a accident waiting to happen.  What I don't understand is why the agent was so set on using the stairs.  Regardless of what happened in the past the agent should have the safety of their clients in mind.  Exposing them to possible injury is not acceptable.

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

Jay, funny how fast you are to blame for the problem, when your job is to merely point them out! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 5 years ago

The fact that other porches have been replaced is probably is a powerful statement as to what needs to be done here Jay Markanich .

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

I can recall coming home a few times from partying and the stairs all seemed to lean that way as well.  Sometimes I didn't even have to walk on stairs.  It's amazing what some people will consider satisfactory

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

Good morning Jay,

I'm surprised the seller didn't notice this before. They probably never go through the front door! These stairs are an accident waiting to happen! Hope they ask the seller to repair them and they get it done for the buyers!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) over 5 years ago

Maybe they were a little tipsy during construction...and you couldn't see that before you listed why ?

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

I really didn't want more than one at at time on the stairs James, and maybe not even that!

Wayne - and if my wording about the problem isn't "satisfactory" it's the same!

The house just two doors down has a fabulous staircase Tom.  All I had to do was have them look to the left!

Especially after one of those really loooong nights, Santa?


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

Of course they noticed Dorie!  They are hoping someone will buy it!

This is truly something I would address before trying to sell the house S&D.  A scratched cabinet is one thing to leave untouched, but this is not in that category!

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

I can just hear the agent telling you to not be silly...lol, I can imagine the look on your face. Silly boy!

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

That makes me wonder if all the homes with replaced porches are the sales of the year in the subdivision Jay. Hopefully your clients will find themselves with a new porch at settlement, too.

Posted by Andrea Bedard, M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond (Thompson Company, REALTORS®) over 5 years ago

Fred - it was as if he didn't want me to bring up anything bad before we had gotten into the house!  He said that the buyer saw other porches that way and thought that was just the way it was in that neighborhood!  Yikes!

Andrea - that is very astute of you because one of the houses with a new porch nearby had a sold sign out front!  My final warning to them walking out the door was not to believe the "other side" if their "contractor" says all he needs to do is jack things up "a little."  I also suggested that if it got that way to ask the other agent to have the "contractor" call me so I could call the county!  Repairing this porch definitely would require a permit.  Replacement is the way to go.

By the way, I had an inspection on upper 16th not long ago and thought I would come home by driving through Silver Spring on Georgia just to have a peek.  Holy Famoly!  I didn't recognize anything!

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

If one (the agent) has an "eye for symmetry", the buyers would have been alerted about this matter when first touring the property.

Since this is a townhome, there must be an HOA.  The HOA should be alerted to a structural problem with the community since it's not limited to just one home.

Seems to me that this stairway structure is large enough to be installed over concrete footers.  Those would have required a permit from the very beginning.


Of course, all of the problems can be ignored because of the lovely little flower garden surrounded by bricks at the bottom of the steps. 

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

I need to remember to start a photo catalogue of all of my more interesting encounters :)

Posted by Mike Belobradic, Your Trusted Advisor in Oakville Real Estate (Johnston & Daniel Oakville) over 5 years ago

Looks like a do it your self item, we can watch the television and learn all kinds of things. Why not do it your self and save a ton of funds. Ahhh no higher someone please that understands how to do the job right 

Posted by Laura Filip, What can we do for you today? (Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life ) over 5 years ago

A good piano would own those stairs in no time :)

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

Old rickety stairs. Funny how the agent didn't notice. Sounds like the buyer didn't either until you pointed it out. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 5 years ago

Lenn - I was told that the buyers thought it would be okay because other houses in the neighborhood looked the same!  That's the way things were in that area!  Wow!

Mike - we inspectors have many hundreds of such wondrous photos all over AR.

Laura - I have said for a while that HGTV is a bit of a problem because people think they can do anything, and in a half an hour!

Charlie - and Sears shows up with a new freezer one day and whoop!

I am pretty sure the agent noticed Pamela.  He didn't want me to say anything really bad.  Well, in addition to other comments, I reported that they are dangerous and that's that.

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

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It's not even a question in my mind. Those staors have to be fixed pronto.

Posted by Richard Robibero, e-Pro, ABR, SRS, Selling Your Home as if it were My Own! (Panorama R.E. Limited) over 5 years ago

Anyone can have your standard run of the mill staircase...This one has Hobbit potential written all over it...

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

Probably best replaced Richard.  But that's not my call.  But preference yes!

Richie - it does.  Straight from the shire.


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

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