A Case Of New Not Being Better ... A Stair Story

Home Inspector with Aspect Inspection

    A Case Of New Not Being Better ... A Stair Story  (This is # 3 in a series on a single flipped house.)

'new' ext stair

The original exterior stairs of this flipped property had only 2 stringers, but they were bigger and longer, which allowed for a more generous tread width. The slots in the concrete pad (C) show us that and being imbedded in the concrete likely is what led to their needing to be replaced.

The treads (D) were probably thicker or there would have been a center stringer (B). We don't see a slot for that.

At (A) we see the treads and stringer directly in contact with the basement wall. This will retain moisture and debris and eventally cause problems here if it is not meticulously maintained. A small gap abpout 1 to 1.25 inches would have allowed air circulation and drainage so maintenance would be minimal. The gap should be kept small enough to not be an ankle turning opening.

The railing post at (E) is a 4x4, actually 3.5"x3.5". It looks substantial, but look at it where it is shaped (F). There it is only about 2" in diameter, so it is actually much less substantial that the first impression makes.

The connector plate used at (G) is going to keep water against both the post end and the tread it is on. This will weaken the wood at the screws and it will fail.  This construction is not strong enough, the small screws will not hold when someone falls against this post. This type of connector has been used in other joints on this deck/landing/stairs.

Just because it is sold at a reno - hardware store does not mean that it can be used in place of correct construction and framing methods or approved hardware.

 baluster conditions  This photo shows 3 other 2nd rate conditions:

A the balusters are nailed on the end of the tread. They do not tie in to the tread surface (pin, dowel, or tennon) or into a bottom railing. You could kick these balusters off with your bare feet.

B My bony knuckles are 4'' across so this spacing is too big for current safety codes. A childs head can get through and be  locked between these balusters.

C This stair angle is too steep. A 45 degree angle is acceptable for service accesses that are rarely used, but high traffic routes that are used daily should be better. It looks OK going up but on the way down there is not much tread surface to land on unless you step sideways.

These treads are not even 8" wide. Just because you can buy it does not mean its the right material for the job.

This is # 3 of a series on the same flipped house.

1.    Skippy will've skipped, before the water starts to drip.

2.    Double Header...Raining On You, Times Two!

3.    A Case Of New Not Being Better ... A Stair Story 

4.    Posting soon: A Case Of More Not Being Stronger.....A Stair Story. 

5.    Posting soon:  The LANDING Looked Good But Is There A CRASH In The Future?

6.    To come – landing/deck

7.    To come – electrical

8.     To come - exterior & landscaping

Please remember to have an inspection during the real estate process to help eliminate any of these concerns!

Put our experience to work for you.

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John & Irma Nelson
San Antonio Real Estate Broker/Agent with Get It Sold Realty - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio Real Estate Agents - San Antonio Homes

now thats a description of a stair - I had to read it twice because I got confused and I am pretty darn smart lol .   I was never a good 'builder'!!

Oct 30, 2012 11:10 AM #1
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Hi John & Irma. That's because it's not a well built stair. The flipper who did this house has nice granite on the kitchen counter tops, but the stairs, not so nice. This is # 3 of a series on the same house. There will be 2 more articles on these stairs alone.

Oct 30, 2012 11:41 AM #2
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Robert, Hey they have those nice scarfs for anti- slip though ; ) Stairs and decks must be rocket science is all I can figure because it seems that they are not constructed well in most cases.

Oct 31, 2012 06:28 AM #3
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Too true Don. Even among professional carpenters many do not excel at this. it demands a clear head, good comprehension of the math - basic long division and accurate measureing. That obviously rules out those that can't covert fractions to decimals, etc.

They do know the rise run ratio rule of thumb and may have difficulty, but they will get it. It's the reno stores selling precut srtingers at 45% pitch thats responsable for the prevalance of many dangerous stairs out there.

Oct 31, 2012 11:52 PM #4
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi Robert,

Flippers, gotta love'em for their ingenuity. Too bad it's not for the betterment of the home.

Have a great day in Montreal my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Nov 05, 2012 09:38 PM #5
Atlanta's Home Inspector, David Lelak IHI Home Inspections
IHI Home Inspections 404-788-2581 - Canton, GA
Experience the IHI Difference

Thanks for sharing your amazing attention to detail! You are so right... just because it is sold somewhere doesn't mean it is proper. Likewise, just because it can be done doesn't mean that it shoule! ~ J

Nov 15, 2012 02:18 AM #6
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

I appreciate your comments John. Your are wise to inform yourself and clients abouty what toexpect. Too many brokers focus on the contract work and are 'shocked' by building imperfections they and their clients didn't expect.

Nov 24, 2012 10:50 AM #8
Peg Barcelo
Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369 - Summerland, BC
The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC

Great explanation Bob! I really learn a lot from you, which is good since I'm going to be investing in some rental properties...

Dec 04, 2012 11:02 PM #9
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Hi Peg. New decks, balconies and framed stairs ned close inspection. Errors and quality reductions are often overlooked as new is automatically assumed to be good.

Dec 05, 2012 10:49 PM #10
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Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection
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