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Trip hazards addressed by the IRC?


Brandon Whitmore
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On todays one year home warranty inspection, the garage slab is poured one inch higher than the driveway at the point where the 2 slabs meet. There is a one inch lip along the entire edges at this joint. I can't seem to find anything to go on to say that this is improper. Am I missing something in the IRC?

It doesn't really matter whether the building code addresses this as I am going to write it up as a trip hazard. It sure would be nice to know that lips/ low steps are covered somewhere.

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On todays one year home warranty inspection, the garage slab is poured one inch higher than the driveway at the point where the 2 slabs meet. There is a one inch lip along the entire edges at this joint. I can't seem to find anything to go on to say that this is improper. Am I missing something in the IRC?

It doesn't really matter whether the building code addresses this as I am going to write it up as a trip hazard. It sure would be nice to know that lips/ low steps are covered somewhere.

R311.5.3.4 Steps. The rise of a step or steps exclusive of

a threshold shall not be less than 4 inches or

greater than 8 inches.

It's under the heading of "Stair treads & risers" so I think it probably doesn't really apply to the junction between a garage floor and a driveway.

I'd just call it a trip hazard and be done with it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Thanks Jim.

I just wrote it up as an excessive lip / trip hazard. The owner and I walked up/ down the street and looked at the neighbors houses. Hers was the only one with the lip. That screw up goes along with the 9" rise at the access door from the house to garage. (no settlement in the slab)

The house was inspected prior to purchase by another inspection company. They missed the lip, the 9" step, tons of cultured stone screw ups (driveway poured against the stone wall, missing flashing and weep screeds, clearance issues at grade level), insulation issues, water heater installation issue, etc., etc. I wonder why they had another inspection........ They oughta get their money back for the first one.

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The house was inspected prior to purchase by another inspection company. They missed the lip, the 9" step, tons of cultured stone screw ups (driveway poured against the stone wall, missing flashing and weep screeds, clearance issues at grade level), insulation issues, water heater installation issue, etc., etc. I wonder why they had another inspection........ They oughta get their money back for the first one.

We all miss things, it is only human. Sure we would like to think that we do the perfect inspection, but then why do so many inspectors use contracts that say they might miss something and they are not liable if it happens?

Everyone has different levels of skill sets and knowledge. I will agree that we do have some very incompetent folks in the profession that would be better off flipping burgers down at the local burger shop.

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We all miss things, it is only human. Sure we would like to think that we do the perfect inspection, but then why do so many inspectors use contracts that say they might miss something and they are not liable if it happens?

Everyone has different levels of skill sets and knowledge. I will agree that we do have some very incompetent folks in the profession that would be better off flipping burgers down at the local burger shop.

Hi Scott,

Just so you know, I read the original inspector's report while on- site. I also did not say anything negative to my client about the report(though I wanted to). She can figure that out on her own. The inspector called out nothing but cosmetics. The only thing he did write up that was more than a cosmetic defect, he made an improper call on.

This was not a new inspector, and he has been in business for about 15 years now. His company is popular with real estate folks, and I wouldn't doubt that they are still pretty busy, even in todays market. Same inspector once told me that he was hearing a lot of complaints about me from Realtors, and that I needed to lay off on the houses I inspect for them.

Now, I understand that it is not possible to be an expert on just about everything having to do with home construction (Jim excluded), but even a minimalist should find some obvious issues.

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Are you absolutely certain that the drive hasn't settled relative to the garage slab? A lot of them do.

Hi Mike,

We must have posted at about the same time last night, so I missed your post.

I looked very carefully for any signs of settlement. There were no lines/ marks anywhere on the stem walls in the garage, nor where there any lines on the exterior stem wall/ cultured stone indicating any movement. There were no cracks in the concrete (garage or drive), so the entire slabs would have had move as one piece. I was sure at first that settlement must have caused the unevenness, since there was a 9" step down from the house to the garage, and a 1" lip at the driveway junction. I just couldn't find anything to back that up. Plus, what are the chances that the entire slabs would uniformly settle without any cracks?

When I asked the client about the high step/ lip she said that she thought they had been like that when she bought the house. She also said that she had tripped on the lip a couple of times. She had put a thick pad at the base of the step to reduce the riser height, because it was too high of a step for her.

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