When Mortar Joints In Patio Stone Become Dangerous Mortar Joints?

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

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?

 

 

Posted by

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


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Roy Kelley 10/26/2016 10:43 AM
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Rainmaker
343,780
Peter Mohylsky
BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS REAL ESTATE - Destin, FL
Your Bucket List Broker in Destin, Fl..

Mother nature is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Sep 27, 2016 07:13 PM #1
Rainmaker
809,461
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

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.

Sep 27, 2016 07:47 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,726,785
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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!

Sep 27, 2016 08:01 PM #3
Rainmaker
1,726,785
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Sep 27, 2016 08:03 PM #4
Rainmaker
2,543,436
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
Keller Williams 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce - Short Sale

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 !

Sep 27, 2016 08:39 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,726,785
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Sep 27, 2016 08:49 PM #6
Ambassador
1,038,146
Andrea Swiedler
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

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. 

Sep 27, 2016 09:33 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,055,063
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

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.

Sep 27, 2016 09:50 PM #8
Rainmaker
506,358
Fred Hernden
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Home Inspector

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!

Sep 28, 2016 12:03 AM #9
Rainer
229,906
Stephen Weakley
Nationwide Mortgage Services - Rockville, MD

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!

Sep 28, 2016 03:16 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,726,785
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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?

Sep 28, 2016 08:47 AM #11
Rainmaker
4,234,014
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

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

Sep 28, 2016 09:02 PM #12
Rainmaker
1,726,785
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Roy.

Sep 29, 2016 03:44 AM #13
Rainmaker
506,358
Fred Hernden
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Home Inspector

No buttisimo pics... 

 

Sep 30, 2016 12:12 AM #14
Rainmaker
1,726,785
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

You wimpisimo.

Sep 30, 2016 07:32 AM #15
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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