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Floors and Stairs
Floors and Stairs photos: P 122, P 210
As you go through the house check the floors for any sagging or uneven areas that'll indicate structural settlement. Jump on the floor in each room to make sure they're sound. Don't jump so hard that you knock things off the walls, just do it lightly. Also, remember to look above you before you jump to test the floors. One time I forgot to do this and I hit my head on a light fixture above me in the kitchen.
Most hardwood floors today are made out of Oak wood because it is inexpensive, resilient to wear and tear, and oak can be sanded. I'll give you some basics of how wood is rated: Select is the best grade lumber because it has the fewest color and grain variations. The color of the wood is uniform and the character of the wood grain is evenly spaced. Number one is the next best with a little more variations of color and character in the wood. Number two is the next level and is the most common grade of flooring. Number two lumber has more knots in it and a wider range of color and grain texture. Number three is the next grade lower and has a lot of knots and color/grain variations.
Check underneath the corner of some carpeting, if you can, to find out what's underneath. It's usually hardwood or plywood underneath but check to make sure and notify the client of what you see.
If there are hardwood floors, see if you notice any damaged areas or bowed sections. If there are carpets, check for signs of aging and worn areas that'll show the need for replacement. Check under the corner of some carpeting, if you can, to find out what's underneath. It's usually hardwood or plywood underneath but check to make sure and notify the client of what you see. The reason for this is that some people think that there's always hardwood floors underneath the carpeting. After they move into the house they may want to remove the carpets and leave the hardwood floors visible. You don't want them to be surprised about finding plywood as opposed to nice hardwood floors under the carpets.
You also have to be careful about carpets that hide damaged areas underneath. I did an inspection once, where the client bought the house from a dishonest seller. After the client moved in, they found damage under the carpeting. The seller intentionally hid the damage during the home inspection. The seller placed a couch over one section and put a large pile of toys and boxes over another section. I told the client to do a "walk-thru" inspection before the closing. This would enable them to check for any damaged areas after all furniture and personal items were removed from the house. The client did a walk-thru but they still didn't see this damage until after they removed the carpeting.
You also have to be careful to see if there are any moisture problems underneath hardwood floors. Moisture from basements, crawl spaces, water leaks, etc. will cause a hardwood floor to buckle. The reason the floor buckles, is that the wood absorbs the moisture and when it dries out, the wood will expand. If there are no gaps between the wood boards to allow for this expansion, then the boards will buckle upwards.
If the seller has any pets then recommend to your client that all carpets should be fumigated or removed prior to his taking possession of the house. I had a client who moved into a house where the seller had a dog and a cat. After my client moved in, they found out that the rugs had fleas in them.
Check all staircases for sturdiness and secure handrails. Always recommend that they install handrails on both sides of the staircases for safety. All handrails need balusters that are spaced four inches apart. Balusters re the guard posts under handrails that provide support. They also prevent children from falling off the sides of open stairways. There should be a light fixture and a light switch at the top and bottom of all stairways for safety.
If there's a window at the base of a staircase its sill should be at least 36 inches above the floor. This will help prevent someone from falling through the window in the event they fell down the stairs. If the sill is less than 36 inches high, a window guard should be installed as a precautionary measure.