Non-continuous stair rail?

I also write up as as safety issue the patio doors on the second level that open up to the deck that has not been built yet. I would say to others ignore at your own Parell.
Cost nothing to be carefull and could cost much to not write it up.

Roy Cooke

What a relief. I don’t have to worry about GFCI and AFCI requirements. I don’t even have to recommend any railing at all for 4 or more risers. All those silly electrical rules…not my job. Heck, all those stuipd water heater rules…let the manufacturer’s worry about that. Fireplace compliance…not my job either. Wow. My job just got a whole lot easier. :smiley:

I agree with David Valley.

If you do not see a safety issue here, Sir, I feel sorry for you. It appears you do not understand the physics of the human body functions at an elderly year.

The Building and Code Enforcement Department is responsible for the enforcement of building codes and ordinances which pertain to all aspects of building design, construction and maintenance. All building construction and demolition permits are issued by this department. The Building Department also coordinates inspections of the storage of flammable materials and the enforcement of the Fire Prevention Code.
In addition to its inspection and enforcement responsibilities, the department also registers demolition, electrical, general and mechanical contractors to do work in the City. The department also investigates complaints, and makes regular reports of building related activities to the City Council and other governmental bodies.

as identified and agreed to by the Client and Inspector, prior to the inspection process.

I do not feel that we as Home Inspectors need to wake up and stop interpeting Code Issues.
I am still asleep when it comes to the safety of an occupant of a Home Owner. There is not and never will be enough emphsis on the terms of Safety, whether it is required or not by the SOP or Local AHJ.

A little commen sense on your part would be appreciated. Not all people are 21 years old and in good physical health. I am only 56 years old and rely on the railings full time due to a trick knee that could give way any moment in time and with my luck would happen when my hand is of the interrupted hand wall rail.

The AHJ will not get that far in depth with the Code Enforcement and the Contractor has no clue, so where in hell does that leave a client. ???

Well, you did say something right.

Inspect the condition of the property, observe the safety factors of the dwelling, and report its’ findings accordingly.
Most safety issues that have been established today is part of the Home Inspectors Duties to recognize and whether or not is also part of the Code is irrellevant in my book of standards. So maybe the SOP needs to be upgraded to reflect what seems to be most prominent in the Public’s eyes today.

Would you not feel different if that would have been you and that portion of the Anatomy would no longer function??

Have a nice day.

Marcel :slight_smile:

Thank you Joe.

For the record:
(Read at least the bolded portions)

There is a lot of hype about the McDonalds’ scalding coffee case. No one is in favor of frivolous cases of outlandish results; however, it is important to understand some points that were not reported in most of the stories about the case. McDonalds coffee was not only hot, it was scalding – capable of almost instantaneous destruction of skin, flesh and muscle. Here’s the whole story.** Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car when she was severely burned by McDonalds’ coffee** in February 1992. Liebeck, 79 at the time, ordered coffee that was served in a styrofoam cup at the drivethrough window of a local McDonalds.
After receiving the order, the grandson pulled his car forward and stopped momentarily so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. (Critics of civil justice, who have pounced on this case, often charge that Liebeck was driving the car or that the vehicle was in motion when she spilled the coffee; neither is true.) Liebeck placed the cup between her knees and attempted to remove the plastic lid from the cup. As she removed the lid, the entire contents of the cup spilled into her lap.
The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and held it next to her skin. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting. Liebeck, who also underwent debridement treatments, sought to settle her claim for $20,000, but McDonalds refused.
During discovery, McDonalds produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebecks. This history documented McDonalds’ knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.
McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultants advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.
Further, McDonalds’ quality assurance manager testified that the company actively enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above, and that McDonalds coffee, at the temperature at which it was poured into styrofoam cups, was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat. The quality assurance manager admitted that burns would occur, but testified that McDonalds had no intention of reducing the “holding temperature” of its coffee.
Plaintiffs’ expert, a scholar in thermodynamics applied to human skin burns, testified that liquids, at 180 degrees, will cause a full thickness burn to human skin in two to seven seconds. Other testimony showed that as the temperature decreases toward 155 degrees, the extent of the burn relative to that temperature decreases exponentially. Thus, if Liebeck’s spill had involved coffee at 155 degrees, the liquid would have cooled and given her time to avoid a serious burn.
McDonalds asserted that customers buy coffee on their way to work or home, intending to consume it there. However, the companys own research showed that customers intend to consume the coffee immediately while driving.
McDonalds also argued that consumers know coffee is hot and that its customers want it that way. The company admitted its customers were unaware that they could suffer thirddegree burns from the coffee and that a statement on the side of the cup was not a “warning” but a “reminder” since the location of the writing would not warn customers of the hazard.
** The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill. The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages,** which equals about two days of McDonalds’ coffee sales.
Post-verdict investigation found that the temperature of coffee at the local Albuquerque McDonalds had dropped to 158 degrees fahrenheit. The trial court subsequently reduced the punitive award to $480,000 – or three times compensatory damages – even though the judge called McDonalds’ conduct reckless, callous and willful. No one will ever know the final ending to this case. The parties eventually entered into a secret settlement which has never been revealed to the public, despite the fact that this was a public case, litigated in public and subjected to extensive media reporting. Such secret settlements, after public trials, should not be condoned. -----
excerpted from ATLA fact sheet. ©1995, 1996 by Consumer Attorneys of California -----
Brought to you by - The 'Lectric Law Library
The Net’s Finest Legal Resource for Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.

I don’t want this to turn into a debate about the Mickie Dees suit or about suits at all. That was a joke, and the point is that you can be sued for about anything in America.

No slam intended Joe. Sorry for the diversion. People forget the facts and that included me. Yes we can be sued for anything. Great system, eh? And we get to pay to defend ourselves as well.

I don’t know why so many things turn in a P…ing match over opinions.
If some chose to call this type of thing out as a potential safety concern that’s their business. Others can do it differently but don’t need to start argument over it.

Do I think this type of concern would break any deal. Highly unlikely.

Is it nit-picky? Don’t know the answer. My client determines that.

Its the old SOP only or exceed the SOP debate.
Good points on both sides of it too.

As far as I know NC is the only state that requires a summary and limits the presence of upgrade and safety issues that are put in it. They can still be reported in the main report section.

The only rule is that we can not quote code, engineering or architecture issues unless we are licensed or certified by the state in those areas.

SC SOP does not have any of the words safe, safety or code in it. But it says we can exceed the SOP if we desire.

The photo in the initial post was of a home I inspected for an elderly lady who walked with a cane. She didn’t think it was nit-picky at all and wanted it fixed. Often, l don’t know anything about my clients–not their age, etc. I don’t want to make assumptions that they are all physically capable of doing everything I can do.

Whether it’s nit picky or not, I don’t know how any HI could allow that to pass on a brand new home, when most point out paint flaws, burned out light bulbs, scratched coutertops, etc.

I flatly tell all my clients this: “***I’m not doing a code inspection, however, I use today’s standards when it comes to safety related issues because my first priority is that you don’t get hurt or killed in a house I inspected.***” Therefore, I put any safety related issue that is a violation of today’s building code in the Summary. Even pickets 4.5 inches apart. Other’s have done a lot of research in developing those standards and that is my benchmark. I’ll let the clients, the sellers, and their agents sort out whether it’s important to them, whether it should be fixed, and who pays to have it fixed. It’s not for me to decide the absence of safety glazing is important and stair rails that don’t meet today’s standards are not important. My standard is today’s standards. I didn’t write them, I don’t enforce them, I don’t cite them, but I use language that references the safety defect and recommend service.

At the same time, I tell the clients orally something like this: “I don’t know what the code was when the house was built and I don’t want to cause undue fear–my own deck doesn’t meet today’s standards and it may not be an issue if you don’t have small children.”

We worry perhaps too much in making sure an AC condenser is 3" off the ground and say nothing about issues that are violations of codes meant to protect the public from physical harm. In a perfect world, yes, the AHJ would not let it pass. But we all know how that process works.

Well said.
Your opinion is well appreciated by me and hopefully by some other.


Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Please read this information about stairs and falls from the National Safety Council. If this doesn’t convince you, nothing will.

Good one Thanks Joe …
Roy Cooke


You are in lala land.

Joe F,

How the hell do you inspect an older home to todays standards? Give me a break. As to Arc Faults and GFCIs. it may indeed be a recommendation, but one cannot call out the lack of GFCIs in a 1958-built home, as the devices did not exist at the time the structure was built. Come to NY City sometime and take that same attitude. As to AFCI’s, if you called it out in NY, you’d be wrong, as it is NOT an electrical code requirement. As to the old lady wanting t fixed, I’d say it depends on the market. In many locales, she would be told to fix it herself. I doubt the AJH would actually flag it.


Do you even care about “HEALTH and SAFETY”. Being a HI is sometimes [most times] more than inspecting for structural defects.


It is simply a “recommended safety upgrade”. I am not “calling it out”, but rather educating my client on what might be hazardous to them.

In regards to an older home being inspected, you can state that “although at the time of construction this may have been acceptable, safety research since the construction of this home recommends new standards, as does your inspector”.

It isn’t hard to simply recommend a safety concern to YOUR CLIENT. Call me a softy, but I actually care about the people that hire me and I want to make sure they are safe, after all they are relying on me.


Some of us might be, but I have not yet visited that land. I don’t travel much, but if you wish I can go and get you out.


It’s very easy. Yes, I recommend GFCI upgrades in a 1958 home. My only exception is AFCIs. I do not recommend them in the Summary (my reports have generic text recommending the upgrade to AFCIs in the body of it–InspectVue).

How 'bout you? Do you recommend guardrails on a high deck of a 1900 home? How far apart should the balusters be in that case? What was the guardrail/stair rail code in 1900??? For that matter, what was the stairrail code in 1958??? You’re smarter than me if you know that. Since I don’t know, I use today’s standards.

Here’s another example. Would you have a problem with guardrail balusters 4 feet apart on a 1958 home? I bet so. How about 2 feet apart? Probably so. What about 1 foot apart then? I still bet you would call that out. OK, what about 6 inches? Is that too wide for you? So, then, what is your standard and how do you determine it–what is it based on? Do you make up your own rules for acceptability? At what point is it not a concern? Since I don’t know 1958 standards, I use today’s standards. I’ll let the buyers and sellers hash it out.

Exactly Joe, and some of us can realize that safety comes first, regardless of Codes and SOP’s.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

There is no such thing as “exceeding” an SOP. I think that this is the unresolvable point of contention that keeps these arguments endlessly burning.

You have a “standard operating procedure” by which you inspect a home… or you do not. You may use the NACHI SOP or the ASHI SOP. Perhaps, you use your own SOP based upon one or both.

What you do is your “standard”. If I do something different in my inspections, it is my “standard”. The fact is, we are simply applying two different standards. That’s all. To say that mine “exceeds” yours is nothing but rhetorical hype.

In the end, since we are not AHJs, nothing we call out is a mandatory fix, anyway. The seller can refuse any of our recommendations he wishes to and the buyer will have to determine if he wants out of the contract or not, accordingly.

Incorrect. You can definitely exceed association SOP’s by doing something as simple as testing every window or outlet, not just the “representative sample”.

This goes above and beyond the bare minimum that the SOPs really are, and - hence - exceeds them.

Advertising such is not rhetorical hype. It is a legitimate point to make to clients: “Which would you rather have: an inspection limited to the bare minimum required by a trade association, or an inspection that surpasses those standards in dozens of significant ways?”

Yes, it is my standard, but it is not the industry association standards that are held up by minimalist inspectors as the official standard.