Tippie Toes

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC


Go up a stair case.  Do you feel more or less comfortable going up while on your whole foot or tip toes?
Go down a stair case.  Do you feel more or less comfortable going down while on your whole foot or heel?

Suspiciously, this deck installer thinks these deck stairs look and feel more comfortable on their TIPPIE TOES!

This reduces the structural integrity of these stair stringers DRAMATICALLY.  

Look carefully at the photo to the left.  That upper stringer is cracking. 

And peek at how well the lower stringer is attached to this landing!

And the quality of the nail job where the nails are not even penetrating into what they are intended to and are splitting the wood.

Splitting wood is not strong wood.

The stringers all over the deck were nailed like this.


Unfortunately the other two stringers have even less surface resting on the landing.

Don't bring anything heavy up these stairs.  That includes two heavy people helping each other up the staircase!

Additionally, due to the excellent nailing job, the whole landing has moved.

The stair stringer above is at least resting (mostly) flush on the landing below it, but the entirety of the stringer is not on top of the landing!

Any more shifting, which is more likely than not, and it could shift off.

Deck construction really lacks in this area.

As I read home inspector posts nationwide, it seems to me, deck construction lacks pretty much everywhere!

My recommendation:  DECKS MUST BE PROPERLY CONSTRUCTED TO BEGIN WITH BECAUSE OVER TIME THEY MOVE, GET WEAKER, AND THE WOOD SHRINKS AND WARPS IF IT IS NOT WELL PROTECTED FROM THE SUN!  A deck that is nailed and those nails are relied on to be structural is not a safe deck.  It is not a professional deck.  When you see one it must be evaluated professionally and corrected.  A ballerina on her tippie toes is very elegant and pretty.  But not so for a stair stringer, however pretty the paint job!



Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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



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Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

I really apprecaite your examples and am sure your clients are thankful they used a home inspector!

Jun 29, 2012 06:35 PM #49
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Jay -- Very intersting... I always remind buyers that we want the inspector to evaluate the deck.. It is an importnat part of the home inspection

Jun 29, 2012 07:37 PM #50
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Jay - Yet another reason why it's so important to have an inspection.  Why would we want a deck built dangerously?

Jun 29, 2012 09:21 PM #51
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

I sold a house years ago that had a balcony that was so unsafe the seller actually agreed to put a new one on before closing. No argument at all.

Jun 30, 2012 12:36 AM #52
Debbie Gartner
Floor Coverings International - Westchester NY & Lower Fairfield CT - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring

Good morning Jay.  Yes, it looks like there are a few "opportunities" here.  Oy vey, what a mess.  Looks like the whole thing needs to be torn down and remade.

Jun 30, 2012 02:50 AM #53
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Joy - I think they were too.  The realtor is Ritu Desai, of AR.

Joan - decks demonstrate more problems than not.  And especially as they age.

Christine - we wouldn't!  So not it might be time to correct things!

Jon - interesting course of action.  We know what we know!  What do you know!

At least the staircase Debbie.  But I don't know where it will go from here.

Jun 30, 2012 03:10 AM #54
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
AR., MO., or OK. "Your Market Professional"

Good morning Jay congratulations on the feature.  I did at one time like walking on my tippie toes but its been awhile.

Jun 30, 2012 03:36 AM #55
David O'Doherty
Hometowne Realty Clayton East - Clayton, NC
Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC

AAAAAAAAGH, what the heck? I love the fact it's been painted since the splitting!

Jun 30, 2012 03:49 AM #56
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks James.  I did too, but not when walking up and down stairs!

David - gotta fill the gaps!  What better to use then paint?

Jun 30, 2012 04:28 AM #57
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Jay - Have you seen the recent video of the bridal party photographed on the rickety pier over a placid lake?  Your comment about two heavy people on the staircase, reminded me of that nightmare scenario. . .It wouldn't be pretty!

Jun 30, 2012 05:50 AM #58
Dave Halpern
Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

I have listed several houses that I asked the sellers to block the entrance to dangerous decks. That includes nailing doors shut and putting caution tape up.

Jun 30, 2012 07:38 AM #59
Robert L. Brown
www.mrbrownsellsgr.com - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Michigan

Not too safe here. This will cause me to look twice before going up them.

Jun 30, 2012 08:51 AM #60
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Jay --  I have heard of so many deck collapses in recent years, especially during parties when the weight of many people is just too much for the structure that likely was not constructed properly in the first place.  The buyers are lucky you found this. That situation was only going to get worse.

Jun 30, 2012 09:34 AM #61
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Perhaps it should have been painted a "caution yellow" instead.  :)


Great post about step construction safety Jay.

Jun 30, 2012 11:11 AM #62
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Oh no Myrl!  I can only imagine.  If that is on You Tube it probably went viral.

Wow, Dave.  That sends a message!

Robert - during the entire inspection I would not go up or down!

Barbara - those collapses initiate code changes, almost all the time.  And they do get worse with time.

GQ - that or police tape!  And thanks!

Jun 30, 2012 12:15 PM #63
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek & Associates LLC Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Yes, BRIGHT lipstick...poor little pig (LOL)

Jun 30, 2012 02:05 PM #64
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
BuyersAgentPortland.com | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% o... - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

Good call on both stairs.  The left with the nails . . . nails??  Who uses nails these days??  I've seen a lot of professional jobs done with deck screws.  And the one of the right . . . absolutely scary.

Jun 30, 2012 04:38 PM #65
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Lisa - the pig needed sunglasses.

Carla - there are proper hangers and techniques, that involve nails too, but overall this was loose and improperly measured!

Jul 01, 2012 03:45 AM #66
Tom Bailey
Crystal Coast Realty & Home Services, LLC - Atlantic Beach, NC

Jay, that is a scary looking deck! As I told you last week since my friend died from falling from a broken rail I do not trust any of them. 

Jul 02, 2012 12:17 PM #67
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I believe you Tom.  It makes one think twice about leaning against the rail.

Jul 02, 2012 01:29 PM #68
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Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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