Deck Railing Causes Cold Sweat


Ever see the movie Get Shorty? There was a scene in that movie where the bad guy is pushed up against
a railing that fails and falls to his death. It’s an old movie, so if I just blew the ending for you, I’m sorry.

I was inspecting this house in the NE section of town. It was an early 90’s Miami Vice type house, a big three story cube coated in stucco built on a steep slope. There was lots of stuff wrong with the house, but the fun part was the master bedroom roof top deck that had a metal framed glass railing installed along the north side of the deck. Beyond the railing was a four story fall, if you include the daylight basement below the three floors, onto the steep hillside covered in blackberries. I’m on the deck and put my hands on the railing and apply a little bit of pressure as I look over at the void below. The railing moves slightly and I quickly step back. Looking closely at the railing I realize that the metal frame is tension fit into the space but had never actually been bolted to the house!

If you put a timeline on this, the house was built in the early 90’s and at the time of the inspection I’m inspecting it in 2010. So we have a railing with a four story drop installed on the roof top deck that is not attached that has been there for 20 years! Very exhilarating!

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