7 Fixes for Trip Hazard | Sechelt

Abstract: Sechelt Home Inspector notes on how to reduce a fall or trip hazard in a house.

Photo Above: Note that the step down is just beyond the door swing.

Built-in Hazard

This past week we inspected a ground floor suite. The house an architecturally designed home with many unique features and the expectations were that the suite would be comparable.

Upon entry, there was a dimly lit hallway followed by a well illuminated area just around the corner. Rather than looking for the hallway light switch, I just used the illumination from the more distant area and walked towards it.

Near Miss

Within 4 feet I lost my balance and almost fell down. Invisible to me was a one step down. The floor tile was light coloured and the step was nearly indistinguishable. That was a close call and my company protocol is to classify this as a near miss.


For a home inspector to have a near miss with a step is one thing. But what should the buyer do? Especially if this going to be a rental suite. Let’s not forget the liability issues that could result if the tenant had an accident.

7 Fix Options

Of course the best solution is to design-out the step if possible. Can a ramp be used instead? In this case it would not be possible. However, here is a list of recommendations that may be considered to minimize the risk of a fall.

  1. Make the overhead hallway light come on automatically with a proximity sensor.
  2. Add a high visibility floor strip at the drop to attract the resident’s or visitor’s eye to the change in elevation.
  3. Use contrasting coloured floor tiles between the upper and lower areas.
  4. Add a handrail at the step.
  5. Add spot illumination low to the ground at the step location.
  6. Add a sign on the exterior door with a caution to look out for the step down in the hallway.
  7. Add a bold stick-on or painted graphic on the wall or on the floor to point at the step.

Home safety is paramount. Always address issues that pose a risk to your well-being immediately.