Multiple stud arrays, like the one of the photo on the left, are used when a major load needs to be supported. Why? Because it is easier to order a boatload of 2x4" studs than to order individual posts, of whatever material. I have posted about this before.
The problem with using so many studs, particularly on very tall "balloon" walls, is that they can separate under the load.
They separate because gravity works every time!
This particular house, which had tall walls, a cat walk on the end of a great room, and major load points where more than one structural member met, had many such stud arrays.
If metal straps are nailed onto each stud and around the stud array, they will not separate.
No straps had been installed yet.
Some time ago, unknown when, the supervisor had actually painted where STRAPS would be necessary. You can see that it still has not been done.
Up close, but harder to see in this photo, is that these studs have already separated. The one on the left is 1/4" from its neighbor to the right.
As studs separate, things settle. If you have every seen what looks like wrinkled, crushed drywall in a house, it is due to such settlement. It is because something settled.
AND IT COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED WITH A SIMPLE STRAP!
Why straps aren't ordered and present on site when the studs are ordered is beyond me. Why a supervisor needs to actually paint where straps need to be placed it beyond me. Carpenters are supposed to understand load points and loads and why they don't is beyond me. Why supervisors sometimes say that in "their opinion" the straps aren't needed is beyond me.
There is a lot in modern construction that is beyond me!
My recommendation: On pre-drywall walk throughs, if you see multiple stud arrays, particularly very high ones, and you do NOT see straps, ask the supervisor why they are not there. Ask him if gravity works there just like it does everywhere else... Mother Nature will enforce her laws whether our opinion agrees or not!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560