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Strange Days

The Doors had it just about right in their 60’s song of the times.

It was not just the drugs and rock and roll----then again, maybe that was part of it.  Even in construction we saw things done that could only be described as “strange.”  Interior and exterior designs of buildings became popular that might be best described as the result of a bad acid trip.

A huge emphasis on flat roofs, minimal overhangs excessive glass were just a few of the features that were common in those days.

A serious lapse of common sense (or loss of brain cells) could be seen everywhere.  It was as if some building practice had been done another way before, it was by definition “wrong,” so all manner of former good building practices went out the window---all the while embracing worthwhile innovations that perhaps could have been arrived at no other way.

Regardless this post is about one of those things that got “thrown out the window”---that really should not have.  Only a collective smoking of the funny stuff could have possibly allowed this oversight to become common place.

Take a look at this picture.  I am sure the defect will jump out at almost everyone.

Stair barriers

As a Seattle Home Inspector, I have to discuss the lack of a barrier at the balcony and on the stairs in the inspection report.  Is this a “repair” or an “upgrade?”

I know how I handled it---but what would you say?

Repair or Upgrade?

 

Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector

 

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Seattle Home Inspector

 

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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 31 commentsCharles Buell • March 11 2011 02:22PM

Comments

yikes, I see a baby crawling off!

Posted by Shannon Coe, 916-597-3818, Lincoln, Rocklin, Loomis, Roseville (Keller Williams) over 7 years ago

Just don't let any toddlers in the property.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I'd say someone needs to install some balusters quickly.....that's so dangerous for everyone, not just young....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 7 years ago

One wrong step and you'll be singing.....

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end.....

Posted by Craig Rutman, Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor (Helping people in transition) over 7 years ago

uh oh....

A definite repair.  I am thinking that the folks who initially did this did not get permits and have it inspected.

Posted by Christine Hooks, Celebrating 25 Years in Real Estate! (Pino Agency) over 7 years ago

Well, that window is too small for a fireman with gear on to slip through, though you could make it, Charlie.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 7 years ago

Shannon, hopefully the babies have good instincts

Lenn :)

Barbara, I agree---needs to be fixed for sure

Craig--like I said---Strange Days

Chris, this is one of four identical stairwells in a four story condo building---for sure build under permit.

Glenn, good thing it isn't a bedroom :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

On my report I would say:

"Sonny Liston was accused of taking a dive.  I don't know if he did or not, but please let me know when someone takes a dive through this guardrail.  Update recommended?  No, have some fun!  It's not the fall that hurts."

How's that?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

P.s.  And thank goodness there's a fire extinguisher!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Charles:  Yikes - were there supposed to ballisters and they just fell off?  LOL  No, that would make me nervous about little people falling through.

Posted by Valerie Zinger, Home Organizer (House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada) over 7 years ago

Hmmmm - scary possibilities!  But right now I have to go get my Doors CD and listen a bit...

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA (Managing Broker - City Realty Inc) over 7 years ago

Jay, just watch out for that abrupt stop

Valerie, there were never any balusters as near as I can tell

Nancy, yes, I had to go listen to some too.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Repair.  Unquestionably.  That's just a straight-up hazard for little kids.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

What are you talking about (#11)? CDs. I have all 'The Doors' original release vinyl LPs.

As for the stairs, tempered glass panel will do the job and keep the design. Condo fees will take a hit though.

This was likely "cost engineering" by some bean counter.

For me it's "repair, urgent safety condition, time line zero; i.e. right away". It's also a public safety hazard.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 7 years ago

This just goes to show Charles that architectural concepts should be adapted to regional weather and environments…

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Professionals.) over 7 years ago

Reuben, agreed

Robert--it is hard to imagine really that no one has been injured or killed yet---then again---maybe they have.

Paul--and there should be materials suitable to make the ideas work too

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Charles, Upgrade...up to code.....

Gloria

Posted by Gloria Todor, & Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA (Century 21 Absolute Realty ) over 7 years ago

Charlie,

Sometimes I think those of us in this field see more strange stuff than most, by being inside people's homes.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Dear Charles -

Let's see -

Does your market require bringing a house up to code before selling it?
That would be the answer to "repair or upgrade" I think.

Don't they say imitation is the best form of flattery?  I am going to post a blog of "What do you think this is?" just like you do! I hope that my try works out well - yours always seem to have a teaching point.  We'll see ...

Have a happy day,
Lynn

 

Posted by Lynn B. Friedman, Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers (Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ...) over 7 years ago

Doug and Gloria, it all kind of becomes semantics in the end

Steven, our profession certainly does put us in a place to see a lot of strange stuff

Lynn, no---not "required" to upgrade---just a matter of how "strongly" we word our recommendations---and how convincing we can be.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Repair. It's clearly unsafe and safety hazards are always a priority in any inspection report.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hi Charles, highlighted as a safety issue with a repair or replace recommendation. 

Posted by Dale Ganfield over 7 years ago

Jim, for sure

Dale, it is amazing to me that it has gone like this for so long.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

I am with Charles, looks like it has been this way forever. Guess nobody got hurt.

Posted by Anne Hensel, Realtor - Broker - St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island (South Beaches Real Estate Professionals) over 7 years ago

Looks like it needs a real railing with smaller than a child openings. Also looks pretty flimsy. I'd make the seller replace the whole thing, writing it up as a safety hazard. Or sharpen his pencil!

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (REALTY EXECUTIVES TUCSON ELITE) over 7 years ago

Anne, it is really hard to imagine how it has gone this way for so long

Jon, yes "sharpen his pencil":)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Not midget friendly.

And I LOVE The Doors!

Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) over 7 years ago

Hmm... well, I don't see anything broken, so a repair doesn't sound like the right word for it.

 

I'd say that something doesn't need to be up to code to need an upgrade.  It's not broken, but it needs to be upgraded to code standards.  So I'm firmly on the upgrade wagon.  It's the only one that seems logical to me.  What did you end up choosing?

 

-------

Gale

http://www.concretesealerandblanket.org/

Posted by Gale over 7 years ago

Jason, or kids or pets :)

Gale, for me it is a "repair" because it is dangerous and most likely never met code as far back as the codes go.  If someone wants to call it an upgrade and it gets fixed all is good.  I would not want to communicate that this was ever OK implying that it could be left alone now.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

What were they thinking.  Take that top rail out and re-install the fire pole.  Jeez.  You expect firefighters to run up and down all those stairs....   ;)

Posted by Stephen Stanczyk, Home Inspector - Puyallup WA (Safe Haven Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Stephen---don't they need the exercise? :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

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