What I'm Seeing Now


When Guardrails Are Removed They Should Be Put Back!

When guardrails are removed they should be put back!

Barriers and restrictions are there to avoid consequence. 

Many people regard laws to be restrictive and to prevent us from "having fun."  Take the speed limit, for example.  Nobody has ever gotten a ticket for staying within the speed limit.  The speed limit is just that - a limit!  Its intention is to aid safety when driving, and avoid the consequence(s) of going too fast.

The same kind of laws, called codes, govern safety in our homes and buildings.  Consider the guardrails on decks, balconies and stairs.  They are to aid safety, and to prevent the consequence(s) from falling.

It's common sense.  Guardrails are there for a good reason.

There are all sorts of contexts requiring guardrails.

In the photo the guardrail that used to be at the bottom of these stairs was there for important reasons.

When getting this house ready for sale the sellers decided to sand and refinish the floors.

They did a great job!

But someone thought it was a good idea to remove the guardrail!

It was intentional too.  The holes where it was attached to the floor, and the stairs, and the wall were carefully puttied or spackled over.

It seems there was no intention to put it back.

But that was a problem for my client, who will be moving into the house with two small children!

This would be a dangerous fall for children especially, and adults!

A proper guardrail here would also serve as the handrail on the lower section of the staircase.  And my clients knew that.  During the contract negotiations, the buyers asked for a credit toward the installation of a new guardrail.

Smart!  When the home inspector mentioned that a guardrail would need to be there and showed them the holes, they only smiled.  And then they explained the short history of the credit toward a new one.

My recommendation:  little things sometimes become big things.  A loose guardrail can become a BIG thing!  A missing guardrail can become a BIG thing!   Of course it's best to pay attention to the little things before they grow in potential to become problems.  In this case the buyers are looking to have beautiful hardwood floors and a safe staircase to go up and down.  I expect they will.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 9 commentsJay Markanich • March 24 2017 10:28AM


Good morning Jay. While this is becoming more common for a cleaner look, it makes no sense! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 3 years ago

That is an accident waiting to happen and any inspector should reveal any safety concerns.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 3 years ago

It doesn't even look good like that, the handrails enhance the look of the stairs... IMHO!

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

One wrong step and they could fall flat on their face.  Hopefully the buyers will be smart and put some guardrails up.

Posted by Belinda Spillman, Colorado Living! (Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado) over 3 years ago

You are right about common Wayne.  And you are right about it making no sense.

Joe - even safety codes are minimum  standards.  Guardrails protect.

Fred - it does look bare.  But the floor was refinished nicely!

That is so true, Belinda.  And everyone, young and old alike.

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

Insurance coverage, common sense and appraisal request all echo the same sentiment. Put the railing back, have one in place.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 3 years ago

This location really MUST have a rail, Andrew.  And my clients were very anxious as they have two little ones.

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

Great post and thanks.  Keeps all in focus on these safety items.  And frankly only common sense.

Posted by Robin Wells, Giving Peace Of Mind One Chimney At A Time ( RAW Chimney Sweep and Inspections) over 3 years ago

I had another such house just today, Robin!  It is something that comes up from time to time.  I wonder about the thinking of people doing these things!

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

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