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.
First 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.