Ottawa Home inspector Tips

Around the house with DoubleCheck Inspections Inc.
Steps & Landings

When entering a home it is not uncommon to go up a couple of steps and then into the home. As qualified registered home inspectors we check the steps out for safety items and if constructed of wood, then there is the possibility of rot.

If the entrance into the home is to be used for a handy capped person and or a wheel chair then a ramp would be in order. With the aging population ramps have become more common and with this is the problem of correct rise and run for the ramp. Ramps must be safe for the user. Handrails should be secure and spacing of the balusters/ spindles is restricted by building code requirements. Generally speaking we as home inspectors do not do code checks. Some of us, (DoubleCheck Inspections Inc.) do check for safety requirements. If the landing is not more than 3 risers and serving a single dwelling unit there is no need for a handrail. In addition if the maximum height is 600mm or less there is no need for a handrail or railing. However you may want one if there are persons who require them for balance or for the elderly. The requirements for steps and landings can be complex and we recommend a licensed contractor provide you with the permit and installation as per the building code and local bylaws for your area.

Steps and landings may be constructed of many different types of material but are generally constructed of two types of material wood and concrete. Concrete steps and landings are usually prefabricated at a concrete plant and then delivered to home while under construction and anchored to the home by bolts that are bored through the foundation of the home. After delivery the metal handrails and railings are installed if required. The home inspection procedure usually finds failures such as the spacing of the spindles is too wide, handrails too low, handrails have been removed or the steel has rusted out. One other usually missed item that is found during the home inspection is a flashing between the landing and the wall. The flashing protects the wall from water infiltration and associated damage. In small yards it may be better to not have a handrail if the deck is low as it may appear to visually close in the yard. Leaving the handrail off would seem to open up the space.

Wood steps and landings are generally much easier to repair than concrete. However they seem to not last as long as the wood will rot out sooner than a concrete product will deteriorate. In recent years, the treatment of wood for exterior use has become less hazardous and has provided us with a renewed longevity in wood products.

Steps & Landings








Above the landing is only 450mm above grade so the handrail and balusters are not technically required. We can see the deterioration/rot at the base of the wooden posts and excessive paint peeling.

Steps & Landings1









We inspected this home and found partial handrails, which may indicate a person in need of assistance into the home. The steps are rotted and in need replacement as well.

Steps & Landings2











At the home inspection, (above) of this home we found the rear landing and steps are missing handrails and railings.

Steps & Landings3










During the home inspection above we found wooden steps missing spindles and the handrail is also loose.

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