What I'm Seeing Now

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"Close, But No Cigar."

When it comes to attic access ladders you don't want to say, "Close, but no cigar."

Every now and then things are installed almost correctly - well, incorrect is incorrect.  Nothing should have to be called "almost."

Take this attic access ladder.

This is new construction and we are on a final walk through.  Everything, including this ladder, is brand new. 

It should be strong, installed right, and rest flush to the floor.

The installer is supposed to measure off carefully and cut the legs so that when the ladder is unfolded it sits perfectly on the floor.

That is, if it reaches the floor.

This ladder ends up 4" from the floor.  I wouldn't use it to go up to the attic.  I got my own ladder instead. 

When I set my ladder up, it actually reaches the floor!  It kind of has to. 

On top of that, this ladder assembly was installed with four, count'em 4, Torx screws.

Right on the ladder there is a sticker with installation instructions.  It says what to use and what not to use to secure the ladder to the structure.

The sticker (and manufacturer) says to never use screws in the assembly installation as they are likely not strong enough.  It suggest 16D nails be used instead - and that a MINIMUM OF 10 be shimmed and nailed tightly.

My recommendation:  right is right, wrong is wrong.  And in expensive, new homes all the new should be right!  That's how I see it anyway.  Oh, and the County sticker had approved this installation.  I am betting the County representative did not fold down the ladder and go into the attic.  Had that been done, this little, dangling ladder may have been caught!

 

 

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 54 commentsJay Markanich • May 27 2015 01:45AM

Comments

OMG!  I had the opposite problem with a house when you could not lower the ladder without it going through the wall  that just happened to be in the way.  How the heck do these people get away with such shoddy workmanship.

AND this is a prime example of why I tell all my clients to get a home inspection even (especially) if it is new construction!!

Posted by Susan Nealey, No Pressure! Ever! (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 3 years ago

Just had an inspection with the ladder installed incorrectly - you are right- and wrong is wrong

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Keller Williams Capital Properties) about 3 years ago

Yes, several people messed up on this job!  Just another example of why an inspection should be done in any home - new or not.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) about 3 years ago

I do a lot of new construction inspections Susan, and it's amazing what I find.

And it doesn't improve from here Lise!

Kat - even AFTER it is approved by the County...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

You got to watch these craftsmen, they are not created equal!!!

Posted by Sham Reddy, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) about 3 years ago

Good morning Jay this is a new one on me.  I've looked a tthe ladders going to the attic before but they all reached the floor.  Never took time to look at the installation instructions, that is until now.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) about 3 years ago

Who looks at that and says "Good enough!"? It's a shame really.

Posted by Richard Robibero, ABR, SRS, Selling Your Home as if it were My Own! (Panorama R.E. Limited) about 3 years ago

Boy, he almost had it. That's one I've seen go both ways. Too long, too short. 

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 3 years ago

Good morning Jay,

You mean we really have to read the destructions before assembly!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) about 3 years ago

If installed properly, they perform and are easy to use. If not, all you get is a post

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 3 years ago

What??  The county inspector didn't inspect something???

I'm shocked, shocked.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 3 years ago

There are just too many things wrong with this new install Jay. The best is the fact that the ladder doesn't reach the floor; does that make it a swing? 

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) about 3 years ago

OMG, jump Forest, jump.

Posted by Chris and Dick Dovorany, Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty ( Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida) about 3 years ago

I don't see why one couldn't merely parachute off of the bottom step to safety...

I see this alot too, especially the screws. At least you got torx screws, I usually see drywall screws.

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 3 years ago

There are some ladders so flimsy that I am afraid to break them. I am slightly over average weight for men,

Posted by Sam Shueh, mba, cdpe, reopro, pe ( (408) 425-1601) about 3 years ago

It's baffling how someone could have installed that, even wrong,  and still not realized that it didn't reach the floor. What's supervision?

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 3 years ago

That's why even with new construction homes I always tell my buyers to get an independent inspection. Great catch Jay!

Posted by Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert, Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com (Zion Realty) about 3 years ago

Jay - just amazing! Can you believe that in my area inspections on new construction homes are normally not done? I try to make sure my buyers do it!

Posted by Olga Simoncelli, CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management (Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate) about 3 years ago

Jay, those attic access ladders can be dangerous, as you've pointed out. Not hitting the floor?? Inexcusable!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) about 3 years ago

WOW is what comes to mind! I raelly cannot believe the ladder was built in this way.

Posted by The Julie Morales Team, Real Estate Questions? Call (832) 367-3412 (RE/MAX Cinco Ranch) about 3 years ago

Truer words, Sham!  Nail hit on head.

James - manufacturers have instructions for reasons.  When I see poor installs like this I make the following comment on my report:

Access to attic:  an attic access ladder should not be installed with small nails or drywall screws as they are too weak.  The ends should have doubled-up 2x4’s for strength and stability.  At least 10, and probably more, 16D nails or screws should be used, and screws should be stainless steel, Dacronized or square head brass. Most access ladder manufacturers have their own installation recommendations.  It’s always best to have something done professionally, but if you insist on installing one yourself, here is an excellent link for general installation information:  

                                 http://us.wernerco.com/attic-ladders/installation-support

 

And the "supervisor" has been on site every day for months and never noticed this Richard?  I bet he did!  What's that say?

Mike - a simple case of ordering the wrong ladder for the wall height.  Again, supervision lacks.  So do brain cells.  Why install this only to have to remove it later?

Well put Raymond.  Free-market economics is about creative destruction - for instance, the typewriter has been replaced by many generations of different things that followed.  I can think of a few things creatively destroyed by this ladder!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Richie - the builder got an earful from this buyer, I can tell you!

Lenn - I'm sure he didn't need this ladder when he went up to see the HVAC install in the attic, and other the other pertinent things up there...

Probably would Tom!  I didn't test it out though.  Something tells me you would have installed the proper ladder for the wall height in this room.

Not a bad line C&D!  Fortunately it isn't a far one.

Fred - drywall screws (without any shims between the ladder and the joist) and finish nails (similarly without shims).

We are all paying for this cluster affair.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Sam - I have seen ladder wrungs break!  Especially on older ladders.  One has to be very careful.

Ed - you got it.  See my comments above.  I am CERTAIN the "supervisor" knew about this.  What's that say?

Thank you again Nicole.  But, yet again, this wasn't a hard one!  They should KNOW I am going up into the attic and would have seen this.

Olga - I do pre-drywall and final inspections.  Both are CRITICALLY important.

This is silliness beyond belief Tom.  And not the only silly thing on this house.  And this is a house costing over $2M!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Julie - they ordered the wrong sized ladder for the height of the walls on the upper level.  That is Basic 101 in my opinion.   This is a mistake that simply should not have been made.  And then to install it?  Silliness.

And that's a kind word.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

What is a couple of inches among friends?  You are just so picky!

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, ... a small office, delivering big service! (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) about 3 years ago

Put a towel over it and you can't tell it's short Gary!

Among friends... 

Then along come Toto and pulls open the curtain!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Another good tip.  I know mine touches the ground in my closet.  Why do builders always put these blessed things in the larger (ladies) closet?  

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) about 3 years ago

That's easy Chris Ann.  So you have the entire attic available for your overflow.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Thank you for the post. I am glad we have home inspections.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 3 years ago

This was a fun one Gita.  Glad you enjoyed it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Are you sure it's not one of those new 'floating ladders' I've been hearing about installed with special titanium screws?

Posted by Rafi Footerman, Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More! (Mid Jersey Inspections) about 3 years ago

It's so obvious, Jay. Maybe they were protecting those new floors!  Another example to....Always get an inspection especially on new construction.

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) about 3 years ago

I got a few titanium staples in me from two recent surgeries Rafi.  They appear to be really strong!  And they don't show up at the airport security gate!

Margaret - this is silliness beyond belief.  But yes, they are protecting the new floors!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

In construction some mistakes are bound to happen but this is a prime example of laziness and sloppyness. Yo - - let's slap this thing up there and go out back for a quick brew!

Posted by Keith Whited (RE/MAX Gateway) about 3 years ago

It is Keith.  And the "supervisor" is on site and no doubt noticed this.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Big O O P S I E!!

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) about 3 years ago

This is just boneheaded.  I can see some body using the wrong fastener and maybe even not enough of them (although it does take stupid to a new level); but to not see that the ladder does not reach the floor.  I suspect this is not the first one they have put in either. 

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 3 years ago

John - it could be that the "professional" installers do not realize that it needs to reach the floor.  So, no oopsie.

Gene - wrong fasteners are typical.  If the short ladder is a typical installation for them, it is because they think it's fine.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Always pointing out the stuff we should watch out for. Great post.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) about 3 years ago

Perfect example of why home buyers should have a home inspection -- including new construction homes. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) about 3 years ago

Thanks Lyn.  I have to say, I have never seen this on new construction.

Pamela - I do a lot of them, and almost always come up with weird stuff.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

You didn't see the builder's "get out of jail free" card? Maybe he thinks at least one comes with each house!

Posted by Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA, Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS (Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate) about 3 years ago

My husband installed one in our home by himself no help from friends. I use it at least once a week. I had no idea he had done it all in one day and it looks better than some of  those in the homes I've shown. He followed the directions on the kit. It's been up more than a decade and no problems. He also installed one for his mother when she was out of town one day. He painted the door the same color as the ceiling.  At first he had the pull string til one time in the middle of the night he made a trip to the bathrooom. He's over 6' and the string had to be so I could reach it. Well that string just swiped his bald head just right, the dogs started barking and the neighbors called to see if everything was ok. Next day he put a screw hook on the end of a dowel rod and the door. No problems after that.  

Posted by Theresa Akin (CORPUS CHRISTI REALTY GROUP) about 3 years ago

Carolyn - I wonder if they don't think this is an appropriate installation!?

They do come with instructions Theresa!  And why those arent' followed by the "professionals" is beyond me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

When asked about inspections for new home I usually say if you are buying a new home there is about an 85% chance there will be no major issues. That 15% can be real doozies.

My son (about 250#) went up one yesterday that was properly installed and was a littler heavier duty that many we see. The steps sagged down to the supporting bolt that runs under each step. Even properly installed it still formed a breach in the fire barrier ceiling. If they were to be installed in my home I'd go for the aluminum ones I have seen.

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) about 3 years ago

Don't know about that percentage Marshall, but I am sure there is one.

And the metal ladders are very good, and often heavier duty.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

So, did the builder replace the ladder and install it correctly?

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) about 3 years ago

I don't know Kimo.  I have not been back.  And this was only one of many things!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Good morning Jay. I have seen several installations such as this. It is amazing what we find isn't it?

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 3 years ago

This isn't even worth a cheap knock off of a cigar Michael.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

I have seen so many ladders installed this way.  So dangerous-

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) about 3 years ago

Sharon - and it would be just as embarrassing there too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

Wow!  You'd think they were guessing no one would notice?!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) about 3 years ago

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, right Jan?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 3 years ago

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