Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Weekend project gone caflooie!

     I did a post the other day about a Wacky Window  installation that I found hard to believe anyone would leave the way they did.  Today's blog is similar, in that it is a wacky installation, but in this case it is more than cosmetic or "aesthetic."  In this case it is also a safety hazard because when the handrail is not parallel to the stairs "as expected" falls are possible.  The idea of handrails on stairs is to improve safe use of the stairs---not to create a distraction that could make them less safe.

     Building proper stairs and railings---that meet the requirements of the building codes----requires training, experience and patience.  All of these requirements appear to be lacking in this installation.bad railing
















     Overall the installation is less than professionally installed with many other violations of current requirements (including too wide of openings under the railing, too wide of openings at the risers, and improper riser height at the first step----and no actual handrail).

     These kinds of installations are frustrating for home inspectors, because sometimes these "brand-new" decks are used as selling points for the home and I am the one that has to call for repairs before they have ever been used.

Charles Buell 

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Comment balloon 6 commentsCharles Buell • March 27 2008 11:06AM


It is surprising that they did not come furthure down the steps with the railing. Thanks for the information.

Sean Allen

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) about 11 years ago
It can be frustrating to have to bust someone's handyman bubble about a poor rail installation.  It seems that they tried to do a decent job, but got baffled by the stairs and rails.  You are so right in that it takes training, experience and patience to properly build rails.  Good math, trigonometry and geometry skills are key as well.
Posted by David Holden, DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit (DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector) about 11 years ago
Charlie--always the "bad guy."  You should get a column in a newspaper--it could get syndicated, like old Dear Abby.  Don't you just love all this help with your career!
Posted by Leslie Bloss, Bellevue Real Estate Professional about 11 years ago

Sean, unfortunately almost everything to do with the stairs is "caflooie"

David, my feelings as well, because in general it was a pretty decent effort----just couldn't handle the stairs.

Leslie, I LOVE all the help with my career:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago
Typical of the "Big Box Store" mantra:  "You can do it; We can help"!  The thing that galls me when I see this crap is that it takes just as much time and effort to do it wrong as it does to do it right.  As a long time professional carpenter (as were you) I have always laughed at the concept of the ease of building it yourself!  Do it yourselfers are so often "Screw it yourselfers".
Posted by David Helm, Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp (Helm Home Inspections) about 11 years ago
David, I hear you, but I do like to see people take on projects----I would just like to see them do it right.  It is just as annoying (if not more so) to see supposedly trained professionals doing poor quality work.
Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago