What I'm Seeing Now

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That's One Strapping Bay Window!

I had a pre-drywall inspection a few weeks ago in Maryland.  It was disappointing in many respects.  The builder's agent was supposed to meet me at the site.  I called her five minutes before I got there and she was to be there, but never showed up.  The house was quite unkempt, with debris everywhere.  Trip hazards abounded.  The stair cases had no protective safety guardrails, especially on the upper level.  It would be easy for anybody to fall to the next level below.  They apparently didn't care who walked through.

And there were many bay windows which were not strapped.  Strapping looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the left and right sides of a bay window on a recent pre-drywall inspection in Virginia.  Looking closely, you can see straps which are nailed high at the top plate, in the middle and low at the bottom plate, and on each of the mitered joints.  My understanding from engineers is that these windows have a tendency to bow outward, even when located on top of foundation walls.  The straps help them to hold their shape and maintain their integrity.  They are utilized by builders in all of the counties in Northern Virginia.

The agent representing the buyers of the Maryland house called me during their walk through with the builder.  He asked me about the straps, which I explained.  He said the supervisor and the architect had never heard of such straps.  While this baffled me all I could say was, "Well, then they have never heard of them!"

My question to Realtors and other inspectors is this:  Do you see straps in your area?  Are they required?  Or is Northern Virginia just ahead of this loop?

My recommendation:   I often see builders who put straps not only on box and bay window penetrations, but also any high wall corners and even the exterior corners of the house.  Even if straps are not required by the code, there is nothing to prevent anyone from exceeding that code.  Remember, the code is the minimum standard required by local authorities - it is the floor from which construction begins.  The best builders use the code as the starting point, not simply to get by.

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 8 commentsJay Markanich • January 16 2010 06:22AM

Comments

Thanks for sharing, Jay. Regards,

Posted by Jane Nicastro-Disch, NJ Estates Real Estate Group of Weichert Realtors (Weichert Realtors) over 9 years ago

Jay, I market for a builder who uses what you refer to as straps in New Hampshire....I have heard building inspectors praise this builder for taking the extra steps although it apparently is not "required" by code.  I use all of this in my marketing of his homes. 

Posted by Donna Rattee, Turning Dreams Into Reality (Coco, Early & Associates) over 9 years ago

Frank - and thanks for stopping by!

Donna - that is good to hear.  Nothing wrong with extras.  And, for you, they become features.  I was very surprised that the builder and architect had "never heard of them..."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, I often use the manufacturer's installation instructions as the final authority to question a defective installation. 

Is there any recommendation in the window installation instructions for the inclusion of strapping?

Posted by Glen Fisher (National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

I do not know about code requirements, but I see strapping.

Mostly I see multiple stud columns strapped together, I guess to reinforce the union of the studs.  Possibly in response to inspectors' gigging the builder for gapping in the joints.

Side note:  I can't get over a builder who would show a home with debris in it and without proper safeguards.

And, a walkthrough, inspection, site visit, etc are ALL showings.  Every time the client is on the property is a sales opportunity, an opportunity to build trust in competence and detail orientation.  This builder blew it, IMO.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 9 years ago

The strapping has to do with the framing Glen, not the windows.  It is used here also on box windows and doors.  They must not do it where you are.

Mike - I agree with your observations.  The presentation is just as important as the product (see the Food Network!).  Multiple studs are always strapped.  When they are not and I identify it, the supervisor always says it is "on his list."  Maybe yes, maybe no!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Don't know if I have ever seen a clean house under construction.  Amazing what is behind your walls.

Posted by Gene Allen, Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate (Fathom Realty) over 9 years ago

Gene - I have seen everything from condoms to used hypodermic needles to underpants to whiskey bottles left behind and wonder if it all is not somewhere inside the walls!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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