I Had A Slip And Fall Client, And He's Not A Lawyer!

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

In order to completely finish the pre-drywall inspection I wanted to see how a space would be completed at the end of construction.  That required we go to the model home of this particular elevation.

This is a row of townhome condos, with designs that leave no room in front or behind for the AC compressors.

That puts the compressors on the roofs.  You can see the trap door to the spot in the photo on the left.

This is fine.  Difficult to get to for service or periodic inspections, but doable.

So, during the inspection and learning this fact, I wanted to go up to see the space.

It was fine, but I really wanted to know how they were going to finish it off, particularly the roof underneath.  I had lots of questions.

What is the roof surface to be?  Would there be a slight slope allow for water to drain?  Were there columns or guardrail there and if so, how are they to be attached to the lower surface?

So when we concluded here we walked over to the model home.

Immediately I noticed something I didn't like.

The way they finished it off there was very little space provided at the bottom of the access ladder.

And, SIGNIFICANTLY, how the ladder was constructed was a set up for an accident, even a slip and fall.

Why?  Because the rungs are nailed into, and are at the same angle as, the support struts.

THERE IS NO PERCH YOU CAN FEEL WITH YOUR FEET.

On a ladder the rungs are at a different angle than are the supports on the sides.  One reason for that is comfort, obviously.

But the other is so you can feel where you are.

In this case your feet are at a funny angle coming down and at the edges it is easy to slip over the side.

I saw that before going up, and mentioned it to my client.  Then, coming down, I felt was I imagined to be a problem.  And I was right.  Coming down I cautioned him.

Removing myself from the attic and going into the bathroom on the third level below to wash up, I heard a crash and yelp!

It was loud!

I thought Zamboni, not his real name, was really hurt and broke something bad!

Looking into the laundry room I saw his foot sticking down about 18"!  Fortunately he was okay.

Laughing I said that our suspicion was correct - this is a design flaw and an accident waiting to happen!

Exceptionally glad Zamboni wasn't hurt, and ALSO glad it wasn't me (!) who fell through the ceiling, we went to the office to admit the deed.

I had a slip and fall client, and he's not a lawyer!

My recommendation:  sometimes you get a feeling that something can happen.  But often that feeling isn't confirmed so quickly!  And with not-so-bad results.  It might be good that this happened so the builder can correct the problem before it happens again in another house!

 

 

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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Ambassador
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Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Jay, If you had spoken up right then they probably wouldn't have taken note of it. Too bad about the other person though. Glad nobody was hurt.

Jul 14, 2012 10:53 AM #29
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
- "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS"

Jay  As your Marine son, daughter or my son would say, "Whatever"  :) 

Jul 14, 2012 10:59 AM #30
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Carol - on home inspections I don't like the rooms that are sunken!  They always seem to throw somebody!

Debbie - he was fine and quite embarrassed!  I wasn't in favor of him going up, but he insisted.

That was a whatever moment for sure Karen!  It sure made a loud crash!

Jul 14, 2012 11:13 AM #31
Rainmaker
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Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I think this is a perfect example of why one should have an inspection even if one is buying new construction.

Jul 14, 2012 01:27 PM #33
Rainmaker
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John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA
ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN

In our area, inspectors rarely enter attic crawl spaces for just the reason demonstrated by your client. Inspectors have been known to step through and fall through ceilings!

Jul 14, 2012 02:15 PM #34
Rainmaker
809,785
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA
Jay: The more I read your posts about the problems with new construction the more convinced I am that home inspections are a must.
Jul 14, 2012 02:51 PM #35
Rainmaker
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Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

Wow lucky that wasn't worse. I had an agent trip over a raised driveway the other day and cut her tow but it's nothing like falling through the ceiling.

Jul 14, 2012 03:08 PM #36
Rainer
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Doug Bullwinkel
Envoy Mortgage, NMLS 6666 - Roseville, CA
Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #281609

There are hazards waiting for us every day in almost everything we do.  Spotting these before they do someone harm is important. 

Jul 14, 2012 03:27 PM #37
Rainmaker
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James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Jay talk about deja vu I bet you were happy it wasn't you.  On the good side no one got hurt which is a plus.  Congrats on the feature

Jul 14, 2012 08:18 PM #38
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Dale - I don't like the idea at all, but it is what it is.

Joan - an inspection needs to be done in so many contexts.  This surely is one of them!

John - I go into attics and it demands careful attention to where one steps! 

Evelyn - new construction inspections didn't really come into vogue until about 15 years ago, but I do them every week now.

Jul 14, 2012 08:50 PM #39
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Rob - I had the listing agent once listen to me explain why a sidewalk was a trip hazard and as she began explaining why it was NOT a trip hazard tripped backwards and her dress went over her head.  That was an embarrassing object lesson!  She shut up after that one.

Doug - we inspectors try to think ahead.  In this case I was right.

Thanks James.  I was exceptionally glad he wasn't hurt!

Jul 14, 2012 08:52 PM #40
Rainmaker
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Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Atleast no one was hurt. Home inspectors have a difficult job.

Jul 14, 2012 08:56 PM #41
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Gita.  My client is not as used to this stuff as I am.

Jul 14, 2012 09:04 PM #42
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

Good call, Jay.  I would think that rungs attached vertically like that might also be more likely to tear away from the ladder under the weight of use, as opposed to perpendicularly angled and secured steps.

Jul 14, 2012 10:14 PM #43
Rainmaker
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James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

I had a real estate agent crack a ceiling after going into the attic. I warned him not to go, but...

Jul 14, 2012 11:23 PM #44
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It's a pretty long way too Brian, about 15'.  That's hard to get equipment up and down too.

James - once a client came up, after my asking him not to (he spoke an Asian language and pretended not to understand me).  I looked over and he was standing right on the drywall, over the staircase!  When I virtually screamed for him to stand on wood he seemed to understand pretty well.  When we got down I showed him where he was standing.  A good drop!

Jul 15, 2012 06:18 AM #45
Rainmaker
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Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

Bad times!  I did an inspection a couple of years ago where the listing agent did something similar at his own listing, while checking out something I had mentioned was a problem in the garage attic.  His foot went right through the garage ceiling.  Luckily he wasn't hurt.

Better him than me :)

Jul 16, 2012 11:49 AM #46
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Reubs - I did not want him to go up there, but he insisted!  He was a very embarrassed boy too!

Jul 16, 2012 12:11 PM #47
Rainmaker
233,419
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

I would have been too :(

Jul 16, 2012 08:17 PM #48
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It's funny too, because in his pre-drywall I mentioned how tenuous and potentially dangerous the construction was.  The power of suggestion I guess.

Jul 16, 2012 08:43 PM #49
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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