It just makes sense... at least to me.

By
Home Inspector with Aldrich's Home Inspections, Inc.

Inspecting older homes is always interesting. It seems I inevitably come across original construction, repairs or remodels that make me scratch my head. While inspecting a "super cute 1940's home" in Port Angeles today, I came across an interior staircase with a few safety issues.

StaircaseFirst off, the stairs had no handrail on the room side. While this may or may not have been allowed when the home was built, this is a pretty big safety concern, especially for small children.

Secondly, the ends of the graspable handrail installed on the wall side of the stairs did not terminate into the wall. This is a common finding in older homes and the concern is that someone coming down the stairs might snag their clothing and cause them to fall.

Lastly, the light installed at the top of the stairs did not have switches at the top and bottom of the stairs to control it. Instead, it appeared that you had to screw in the light bulb to turn it on after you climbed the stairs or before you went down them (taking care not to singe your fingertips). Either way you would be using the stairs without the light being on.

All of the above are safety concerns and I recommended to my clients that they install a proper handrail on the room side of the stairs and install switches for the light. I then suggested they modify the installed handrail so that it terminated into the wall. It just makes sense... at least to me.

Comments (7)

Richard Ruggaber
Metro Life Homes - Los Angeles, CA
California Real Estate - (818) 422-5035

Interesting things you found in the inspection.  I could immediately see this issue with the great photo you took.

Oct 28, 2010 04:16 PM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Maybe it's because Halloween is almost here, but your post made me think of all those dark, scary stair wells in horror films, where either someone falls, or something comes out from under them! Not what you want buyers thinking of when viewing your home.

Oct 28, 2010 06:58 PM
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jason,

I have a special concern to check on, in my report, that talks about this vary and common flaw at old houses with basements.

Oct 29, 2010 02:50 AM
Jason Aldrich
Aldrich's Home Inspections, Inc. - Sequim, WA
Sequim, WA Home Inspector

Richard, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this stuff is obvious. ;)

Oct 29, 2010 03:49 AM
Jason Aldrich
Aldrich's Home Inspections, Inc. - Sequim, WA
Sequim, WA Home Inspector

Joetta, I hadn't brought the Halloween factor into it, but I suppose you're right. Going down a dark staircase into a basement probably wouldn't be all that appealing to a potential buyer.

Oct 29, 2010 03:50 AM
Jason Aldrich
Aldrich's Home Inspections, Inc. - Sequim, WA
Sequim, WA Home Inspector

Steve, playing off of Joetta's comment, old staircases can be spooky and something we as inspectors need to definitely be aware of and educate our clients on. Stay safe out there!

Oct 29, 2010 03:53 AM
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

By the way, happy spook day to your Jason.

Oct 31, 2010 11:58 AM