What I'm Seeing Now

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Resting Your Heavy Load

When hiking or camping you have to plan breaks to allow for resting your heavy load.

And some of us have heavier loads than others!

Take this new construction for example.  One of the most important things to look for in new construction is transfer of loads.  Do support points above rest on a point directly below, which in turn rests on another point directly below?

There is a reason the first thing built in a house is called the FOUNDATION.

My Oxford dictionary, which I consult nearly every day, has six definitions for foundation.  The first says this:

noun 1  the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level.

Generally speaking, the lowest portion of the house has supportive characteristics - slab, foundation walls, steel beams, columns, wood beams, etc.  These structures and members are sized to handle much more than the load that rests on them.  Load points should rest properly on top of them.

DURING A PRE-DRYWALL INSPECTION IT IS EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE THAT LOAD POINTS ACTUALLY REST ON THEIR SUPPORTS.  SIMILARLY, IT IS EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT TO SEE THAT THESE SUPPORTS ARE PROPERLY SECURED OR ATTACHED.

The engineered wood column on the left is the major support for a sweeping staircase leading from the basement, through the entry to the upper level, which eventually supports a load point under the attic HVAC unit and edge of one roof valley. 

Can you see how well it is attached to a load-bearing, double Micro-laminate beam?  Those are two shot nails!  Excellent!

The steel column on the right is one of eight in the basement, under four large steel beams.  This is a large house with lots of open space.  Things are designed to rest on points, and many of those points are steel beams.

Not one of the columns is attached to the underside of the steel beam it supports.  In this case holes have been drilled to add bolts, but they don't line up so bolts cannot be used.  They will have to weld them.  Welding is fine, even preferred, but the drywall was intended for installation very soon.  When were they going to get around to it?  Most of this would have been covered up and no longer visible.

The builder "forgot" to notify the buyers, my clients, that they could call an independent home inspector.  I did a pre-drywall inspection for this buyer's best friend, and they called me late one night.  We did this the next morning at 6am.  Fortunately.

My recommendation:  you must check frequently to see when the builder intends to do the drywall installation.  Usually they load the drywall into the house a couple of days prior to installation, so it is very good practice to go by the house to see what is going on!  If drywall is there be sure you get your independent home inspection done!  Unlike these columns, your inspector will be VERY SUPPORTIVE!


 

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 54 commentsJay Markanich • September 12 2012 04:09AM

Comments

I have seen many times that 2nd floor decks have not been attached properly and seen on the news where they have fallen off the home because of too many people on them.  Poor foundations and not properly attached is a recipe for failure.

Posted by Richard Burge Realty/ Burge Homes, Broker in Charge/Owner (Richard Burge Realty/Burge Homes) over 8 years ago

Hi Jay,

Did Uncle Bob go to Virginia to work?

Maybe it's his brother that went. Awful way of framing. Looked to be as if they could'nt make up their minds on what to do the right way. What exactly did the plans call for in the stair case?

Have a great day in Bristow, Virginia.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 8 years ago

All true Richard.  And yes, pre-drywall is the best time to see attachment!

Clint - everywhere else there was an engineered column it was attached with a thick, very thick, bolted angle.  Maybe the "intended" to get to this, or ran out and "ordered" attachments, but didn't get around to it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Lack of attachment of columns to beams is a very common defect.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

Most buyers are like me...we do not understand all these technical construction details.  Sure, buyers may peek as the construction goes along but not know if there is a problem.  It is vital an inspector who knows construction do the real looking!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 8 years ago

'Tis, Jim, 'tis.  But it's already on the supervisor's list, to be done later that day...     ;>)

Gary - I have one buyer who found me on line who has sent me photo after photo regarding their new construction.  It isn't even to the point of pre-drywall inspection yet!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

My 1875 farm house would have made you cringe. WE still have jack the house and do a new foundation its way better than it was but we used to have many steal columns and only one was actually straight holding up the house

Posted by Ashley Connolly (Northeast Water Wells Inc) over 8 years ago

Jay, most buyers would either not notice this or probably think it is okay. All the more reason to have a pre-drywall inspection.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 8 years ago

Jay...

This should have been caught by code enforcement inspectors, who BTW have faced a lot more lawsuits these days for misssing serious defects like these.

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 8 years ago

Jay,

Thats an important catch. Proper attachment of support posts to beams to carry load are important for many reasons. Load shift, finish material cracking, doors and window not functioning as they should over time, to name a few.

Posted by Steven Wessler, CMI, CCMI (SpyGlass Inspection Services) over 8 years ago

Such an important part of safety fro the occupants and it passed the code inspectors??? wow!

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 8 years ago

Sounds like the builder needs to get one of those old fashioned Round Tuits. I remember the lumber yard I used to work at had one hanging behind the desk of our takeoff man. Very handy. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 8 years ago

The weight holds it in place. Who needs nails, bolts or screws?  ;-)

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 8 years ago

I love old houses Ashley!  They are different to be sure.  Your stone foundation must be fun too.

Mike - you are right on both.  It makes sense to have some experienced, independent eyes on the job.

Richard - not sure, but I think they are immune here.

It is Steven.  I look for all that first thing when I enter the basement.  Often there is little or no attachment.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Fernando - those guys do not have the time to spend in the house that I do.

I have a bunch in my pocket!  Made from day-glow construction paper Scott!

You are right Than.  I take it all back.  Disregard the post (just don't tell anybody I said that, okay?).

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

That would never survive a good size earthquake. Why does the last of proper fastening always show up? It seems like a basic concept that so many don't seem to understand.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 8 years ago

The attachment is every bit as important as the support Rob.  We had a decent earthquake August 2011 and many things around here failed (including the Washington Monument and Capitol Building).

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

The Romans were doing this with arches quite successfully if I recall correctly...Engineering dynamics work when used

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 8 years ago

So did the Aztecs and Olmecs, Richie, in Mexico.  The arches were more pointed there.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Yikes!  Your clients dodged a bullet by having you come in to check the builder's handiwork.  Who is doing the quality control?  Amazing.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 8 years ago

I am quality control Kathryn.  Need you ask?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

I have been a Building Contractor since 1984.  Your article is very well put!

Where is the building inspector?  :-)

Now I am a  fulltime Home Inspector and I inspect new construction regularly, although the builder offers a Warranty.  I think Realtors might be surprised at what issues are found in NEW HOMES!    To protect your clients, I recommend a home insepction even if the house is brand new.

All the Best!

 

Posted by Earl Payne, Experienced Home Inspector (Carolina's Best Home Inspections) over 8 years ago

We see this most often in older homes when it comes to supporting beams

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 8 years ago

Jay, The old" missing positive connection" issue ; ) It is a big deal out here on shacky grounds.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks Earl.  They were there and went!  I have been posting on pre-drywall inspections for years - it's amazing what I find.

Harry - sometimes older homes don't have the connections they need, but they are generally better built.

It's a big deal here too Don.  You always get connections right.  If not things come apart!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, I always look forward to your posts.  You find the most intersting stuff!  I always learn something new.  Thanks.

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 8 years ago

Thanks Gary.  I try to post things that will instruct others!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

(Palm to head) Yikes! Another great post Jay.

Posted by Adam Brett, The Adam and Eric Group, Fullerton's Finest (The Adam and Eric Group) over 8 years ago

Well Adam, that palm should be there a lot!  Thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Morning Jay I see you consult with Oxford and I sir use Webster's but in the end they are similar.  Great post as always and congrats on the feature. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 8 years ago

Thanks James.  I find Oxford gives more information.  But that is just me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

We had an eathquake here in central Virginia a year ago.  I wonder what would have happened to that support under those conditions?  Great post......as usual!

Posted by Woody Edwards, A Realtor® Who Answers His Phone! (First Choice Realty, Inc) over 8 years ago

Exactly Woody.  That's why really good attachment is necessary.  And everywhere, not just in earthquake zones.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Good catch, Jay.  Your blog certainly holds up to its usual standard of excellence. Pun, of course, intended as was the compliment.

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks Marshall.  Held up any way I can!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, I never thought it would be so informative when I clicked to read this blogpost. Fantastic learning from you!

Posted by Deb Harshman, REALTOR & ASPMaster Stager, The Selling Advantage (Long and Foster - Christie's International Real Estate & Owner of Staged Home Decor) over 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing this Jay, it looks like you saved the day, its unfortunate that the builder was not paying attention and his incompetence could have led to a disaster.

Posted by Bob Crane, Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671 (Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities) over 8 years ago

Deborah - proper transference of load and attachment of the supports is the most important thing to look for on a pre-drywall inspection.

Bob - who knows if this would have survived another earthquake like the one we had a year ago!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

I'm curious why a government building inspector would allow this type of work if there were any issues? Why would a homeowner need to hire an outside inspector since the permits to the construction includes an inspectors approval during the entire project, doesn't it?

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 8 years ago

He wouldn't Kimo, if he saw it.  Home inspectors are far, far more thorough than gubment inspectors.  Hence the absolute need for private home inspections on new construction.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Not very good workmanship was it? Glad you spotted it prior to the drywall install or it never would have been caught unless there was a future problem.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 8 years ago

I agree Lyn.  It would not have been discovered UNTIL there is a future problem!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

That's why it is always best to get a home inspection on even new construction.

Posted by Cyndi Carver, Newcastle & East Renton Specialist (PRSI Choice Gallery Homes) over 8 years ago

I have been doing pre-drywall inspections now for about 15 years, and for good reason Cyndi!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

This is why it's imperative to hire a home inspector even for new construction. Every new construction property I have sold has had items pop up. Thank you for continuing to educate us!!

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta (Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765) over 8 years ago

Thanks Sylvie.  We'll try, we'll really try!  New construction inspections are essential.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

That is why people need inspectors.

Posted by Joe LaVallie, 111363 (HomeStreet Bank) over 8 years ago

After receiving a humorous email a few days ago, I have to conclude that the dam beavers could have done a better job than that builder.

Strange the things they try to hide. I had custom kitchen cabinets built a few years ago - and should have inspected closely. It wasn't until the doors started getting loose that I looked and saw that this "master carpenter" had installed only one screw on each side of each hinge. Hey! The doors didn't fall of before he went away, so it's all good. Right?

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 8 years ago
Hi Jay. We think maybe that is why the pyramids are pyramid shaped? Lol
Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 8 years ago

Joe - and we are out there!

Marte - I think I know what beaver story you are talking about and it is really funny!  Master carpenter you say?

Bob - the pyramids are pyramid shaped because they are pyramids.  Something like that...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Very good Jay and just an example of things that look good may not always be good.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Thanks Gene.  We look at what we can see!  Best to see it when it's pre-drywall!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

The building inspector should have called this out. Nice catch.

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) about 8 years ago

Attachments are essential Wayne, and I know this county considers that a code item.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

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