Recently, while inspecting the floor framing visible from an unfinished basement, I spotted something that 25 yrs of experience around lumber had never presented to me. I have seen several different types of defects in wood joists such as insect damage or wood decay. Several of these particular joists had cross grain “slots” of material completely missing. The “slots” were not machine or tool made. The defect must have been contained within the tree at the time of processing. This missing wood reduced the load bearing capability that would be expected from a normal 2X10.
It’s assumed the boards went through quality control at the mill. Then they would have been cut to length and installed on the job site- which obviously requires direct handling from multiple framers. The final step upon completion is for the city to inspect the framing to ensure that it is done to code and soundly built. All in all these abnormal joists slipped past at least a minimum of four people. Only until a friendly home inspector was on the job was this abnormality caught. Adding ‘sister’ joists to these areas would be a simple fix as I explained to the client.
Another framing oddity I saw not too long ago was in Bellevue- again dealing with floor framing. Traditional floor joist are set on 16” centers. In other words it is 16” from the center of one joist to the center of the next. This particular home had joists spaced at 12” on center in the front half of the house while the back half of the house had joists set at random distances apart. This random spacing created a decrease in their weight bearing capability and an increase in deflection or flexing of the flooring. It was as if the framers looked at the remaining pile of lumber half way through and said “we don’t have enough”.
These examples are atypical of normal issues addressed in most inspections. An example of a more common framing issue involves joists or beams in remodeled or older homes that have been cut to facilitate new HVAC duct work, plumbing or electrical modifications to the home. In most cases this can be dealt with by adding other framing members to assist the modified area. Helping clients understand issues that they may be unaware of and explaining their sometimes simple fixes is what I enjoy.
By Dave Six
We are a locally owned home inspection company serving the metro areas of Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.