Not The Tunnel of Love

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Small opening above the bed. Where does it lead?Ah, the quintessential amusement park ride for starry eyed lovers. A slow ride in a tiny boat through a dark tunnel. What could be better for stealing a kiss or three.

In the course of inspecting houses, it would not be out of the ordinary to happen upon a tunnel. Not a train or car tunnel and surely not the tunnel of love. Perhaps you could call the tunnels I find frequently those of the unloved, made by rodents and insects. Man made tunnels however are not to be expected.

Finished basements are another frequently found feature in many houses. And way more appealing than vermin tunnels. The basement is used by the homeowner to add more living space. Sometimes a part of this space includes another bedroom.

Two doors out of the bedroom. Like any major home renovation project, permits need to be pulled, plans submitted and inspections done as work progresses to completion. Many homeowners and contractors seem to feel permits are an unnecessary part of the process, requiring time and money better not spent. Fact is the permits and the more important inspections are to ensure a minimum amount of safety is present in the construction.

While inspecting a finished basement recently, an apartment that included a kitchen and bathroom, entering the bedroom I noticed a small opening above the bed. Walking further in and scanning the room, something didn't seem quite right.

Bedrooms or sleeping quarters have very specific requirements for habitability and above all else safety of those sleeping in the room. One of these better known requirements is egress. Yet there are other it seems lesser known requirements that are tied directly to this means of escape.

Not the tunnel of love.A bedroom is required to have a specific amount of natural light and natural ventilation. This of course would, could only be accomplished by installing a window. A window that would have to meet the minimum egress dimensional requirements.

Getting back to the bedroom, there were two doors in the room which could unconvincingly be argued served as the two required means of egress. The opening over the bed as it turns out was a small window. Accessible through a tunnel built of plywood.

Hardly a tunnel of love.


Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi James,

That window is so small doe's it really qualify as a window? I know it would not as a means of egress.

Cut a few more corners and they will have a round house.

Good find . Have a great day in Massachusetts.

Best, Clint McKie 

Nov 15, 2012 09:20 PM #1
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

That set up certainly would not pass muster here. Aside from being too small, there has to be access to it, built-in steps or ladder, etc.

Nov 15, 2012 09:27 PM #2
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Why did Freud come to mind as I read this?  Don't know...

That window looks just about right for a Boy Scout swan dive!  Isn't that considered egress?


Nov 15, 2012 09:52 PM #3
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

James -- it would be interesting to know what is supporting that plywood tunnel, and how thick the plywood is.  Just because I'm the curious type, not because it would make it more likely as a mode of egress.

Nov 16, 2012 02:10 AM #4
Rick Bunzel


Unless the doors lead directly to the exterior they don't qualify as a means of egress. Considering this apartment also has a kitchen I would label this as a death trap.




Nov 17, 2012 01:46 AM #5
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, That is a special set up there. But at least it comes with a git-fiddle. You can play "smoke on the water" ; )

Nov 17, 2012 08:40 AM #6
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Clint, It most definitely does not qualify as a means of egress. BTW, I live a little further south my friend, in Connecticut :)

Robert, It doesn't pass anywhere.

Jay, Freud? Since it is angled, it may make a good slide :O

Steven, Not much. Behind the wall was accessible. The reason for the tunnel was there is a hall behind the wall which leads to a boiler. That's whole other story. 

Rick, I agree and said as much to the buyer and in the report.

Don, A git fiddle! You do not recognize your own instrument of destruction :)

Nov 17, 2012 08:52 PM #7
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