Barriers/guards—when are they strong enough? When are they safe enough?

A while back I inspected a 3 story condo that had a flat roof that was also a walking surface/deck.  Originally this roof deck had nice guard walls all around the roof.

At some point a previous homeowner decided that a hot tub would be a cool addition to the property.  What better place to sit out under the stars on a nice clear night and contemplate ones navel—or one’s tub mate’s navel.

There were many problems with the installation of this tub—including improper installation of the electrical components.  Other “questions” included the questionable stairs to the deck, missing hand rail and whether the roof structure was adequate to support the massive weight of this tub.

barrier around hot tub

Roof top hot tub

I think the thing that made me the most nervous about this installation was the inadequate guard around the walking surface around the tub deck.  This walking surface was at least 28 feet above the ground.  I am used to crawling around at height, and standing next to this railing made me feel “uneasy” to say the least—-and I hadn’t started partying in the hot tub yet—-and was by all accounts sober.

Barrier railing not tall enough

Barrier railings not tall enough or strong enough

And what about the lattice-work? —–everyone knows how strong lattice is!  Proper repairs may be expensive and it may be cheaper to simply remove the tub and return the space to its original use and design.


Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector

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