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When Mortar Joints In Patio Stone Become Dangerous Mortar Joints?

When mortar joints in patio stone become dangerous mortar joints.

Stone patios can be a very nice feature to a house.  The look is natural and the material is very long lasting.

This will loosen the stone's grip on the underside and at the edges, and the mortar can disintegrate.

The loose stones at the edges of this patio could easily be lifted up.  They also lean easily toward the edge.

The problem here was that the edge was about 24" high.

Now that is not high enough for the guardrail "code" to kick in.  So none was ever placed here.

And along the edge of this wall was a boxwood hedge.

Here you can see the top of the hedge as it abuts the stonework.

The family buying this house has small children.  Where do children go at the edge of wall?  To the edge!

Standing at the edge at the top of this wall the stones easily come loose and would fall down toward the hedge with not much weight.

Now, just because the code says a guardrail isn't needed until the infall becomes 30" doesn't mean that 24" is safe.  The code gurus pick a distance and decide that is where it will be, and of course no rail was placed at this edge - by code.

Codes are minimum standards, and just because the code says a guardrail isn't necessary here, common sense might think otherwise. 

When I do inspections on the outside of houses I try to consider what something might mean to a handicapped child or elderly adult.  For that individual, this edge is unsafe.  If an elderly person was to errantly place weight on the edge here, for whatever the reason, and topple over, a 24" fall would not be safe.

Just because man-decided codes are not in force here, Mother Nature has her own codes and will enforce them with impunity.

Go ahead.  Contest her!  See what you get!

My recommendation:  of course these stones would need to be reattached securely to the base, and new mortar needs to replace the older, cracked mortar where needed.  But in addition, a guardrail might be considered here.  Home inspectors have no code juice, but Mother Nature does!  Why let mortar joints in patio stone, especially at the top of a wall, become dangerous mortar joints?

 

 

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 15 commentsJay Markanich • September 28 2016 12:46AM

Comments

Mother nature is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Posted by Peter Mohylsky. The Santa Rosa Beach Expert, THE BEACH IS OPEN (PrimeSouth Properties) almost 4 years ago

I must be getting elderly Jay. I can't see the picture of the "edge" although the description gave me a good idea about it's configuration to the wall.

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) almost 4 years ago

Peter - don't mess!  I wouldn't!

Kevin - unbelievable.  When it first published that photo was there.  Then it magically disappeared.  This has happened before to posts, but I don't know why.  Perhaps that photo helps!

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

Kevin - unbelievable again.  I went off the site, and came back and that photo had disappeared a second time.  Go figure...

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

Safety and the liability that comes with it is certainly a factor..inside and out in a home and should be a consideration for every homeowner !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 4 years ago

Hence, S&D, the exterior being a big part of every home inspection!

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

Good morning Jay! I see this issue quite a bit on walkways and steps leading to a home. I have certainly stepped down on a step and OH BOY! In your case, they must be out on that patio all the time. On walkways and steps out front it is often the case they don't use the front door, out of sight out of mind thing. 

Just fix it, no matter where it is. It is very dangerous! Fix the issue and the underlying cause, do whatever it takes. 

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 4 years ago

Yes, just because the code says one thing, doesn't mean a homeowner can't be even safer. It's great that you consider the elderly and young when assessing safety.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) almost 4 years ago

I just had one yesterday that had flagstone covered steps... and one of the middle steps were loose like that. Talk about busting your buttisimo!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 4 years ago

That was real nice of them to put the boxwood bushes there to break your fall.

I missed a step the other day leaving the Doctor's office and almost wiped out.  Somehow I stayed on my feet, but the effort wasn't pretty.  And that was only a 14 inch drop!

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

Andrea - this house had the problem in the stone work and brick work elsewhere.  And the house is only 18 years old.

Kat - I have from the beginning!

Photo please, Fred.  Before and after the buttisimo debacle.

Soft landing, Stephen.  The best!  Think moon landing.  No ballerina moves still left in there?

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

This is great information to share with home owners and prospective home buyers.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) almost 4 years ago

Thanks Roy.

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

No buttisimo pics... 

 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 4 years ago

You wimpisimo.

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

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