Home Inspection Austin, Tx

ASHI Home Inspector - Engineered Lumber

November 14, 2008
Filed under: Structure — Inspector Bob @ 10:13 am

To know more about engineered framing members & their proper assembly read this article published by ASHI on LVL’s. As an ASHI home inspector knowing that experts are looking out for you is critical. This article will give you information you need to have confidence your home is built in compliance with current building standards.

Engineered lumber can support greater loads and longer spans than the more conventional dimensional lumber, but good performance requires proper handling and detailing.

On many newer homes today, laminated veneer lumber (LVL) has displaced both steel- and glue-laminated timbers for ‘large span’ applications.

The advantages: You don’t need a crane or a welder.
Therefore, as demand increases, we as home inspectors can expect to see more of these LVLs on both newer houses and additions. Although LVLs may handle a lot like conventional lumber, you should be aware it’s not the same “stuff.” And one of the more important connections we should look for, that’s often done insufficiently in the field, is the connection between the plies. Manufacturers are very specific about both nailing and bolting schedules for fastening plies.

Nailed and bolted connections: For laminating l-¾”-wide LVLs up to three 12-inch-deep plies, look for two rows of 16d nails spaced 12 inches on center. The rows should be nailed from both sides with the spacing staggered. For three plies over 12 inches deep, look for three rows of 16d nails, again 12 inches on center, both sides with a staggered pattern. For laminating four or more plies (generally, it is not recommended to exceed four plies), look for two rows, three inches from the top and bottom of ½”-diameter through-bolts with fender washers on both faces, every two feet on center, with a staggered pattern, in addition to the regular nailing schedule specified above. Other details we should look for include proper post caps, splices and beam pockets.

Post Caps: Load-carrying beams must have a minimum bearing length at each support. For this reason, most manufacturers of engineered lumber recommend steel post caps for wood posts or a steel-bearing saddle for steel posts — both with side plates on both faces — to prevent the beam from twisting or rotating at these supports.

Splices: Splices between piles should be staggered and should fall within the supported bearing length of a post. If this isn’t possible, the splice should fall in the middle between supports if the manufacturer concurs. Too often, the splice is placed just slightly off bearing where it can shift, causing the beam to sag.

Beam Pockets: Codes require protection of untreated foundation beams from concrete. They usually specify a ½” separation (gap) from all concrete surfaces. Some municipal building inspectors allow or require some type of vapor retarder between the wood and concrete (e.g., 6 mil poly-vapor barrier, foam sill-seal or a pressure-treated (p.t.) set block in the beam pocket). Non-p.t. wood should not be grouted tight into the pocket because of the possibility of rot.

Truss Joists: The truss joists may have Gang-Lam, LVL flanges and solid, oriented stand board webs. They’re manufactured with no camber, eliminating possible upside-down installation. Some of the common “red flag” areas we should look for include the following conditions, which are NOT permitted.

Red Flags

Don’t use dimensional lumber for fastening to truss joists such as band joists. Dimensional lumber, unless it’s kiln-dried, often has a higher moisture content. Therefore, when the shrinkage occurs as it dries, connection problems often result.

Don’t put holes too close to supports. Use only manufactured knock-out areas or stay within the limits of the manufacturer’s web-hole specifications.

Don’t overcut holes and damage flanges.

Don’t cut or notch or drill any section of the flange.
Don’t use oversized nails or hammer on flange and damage the joint.
Don’t cut beyond the inside edge of the bearing (don’t scarf-cut ends).

Don’t support joists on web.

Another common deficiency to look for is a loose bottom flange pulling away from the web. This condition may occur during erection when framers might be hitting the top of joists and/or inappropriate loads are fastened to the bottom flange.

In conclusion, it is impossible for us to know or even carry the manufacturer’s specs (span charts, installation details, etc.) for all the different engineered lumber out there. Therefore, if you see any of these ‘red flag’ areas or other deficiencies and have concerns or questions, it would be prudent to advise your client accordingly.


Austin Home Inspector - ASHI Address Mortage Crisis

Filed under: Home Inspectors In the News — Inspector Bob @ 10:07 am

Austin, Texas

No matter where you look in the housing industry ASHI has its foot in the door. When America was hit with its worst mortgage & financial crisis since the great depression ASHI was there to help. ASHI is the most trusted name in the home inspection industry. We speak house! Read this article below to know more how ASHI helps you.

With passage of the housing bailout bill earlier this summer and the subsequent credit rescue bill passed in early October, the U.S. government has demonstrated extraordinary speed in its efforts to moderate the effects of the severe economic downturn. Time will tell whether these remedies are the best tonics for the collective financial crises. But one thing is for certain: The U.S. government is in the realty business. We would prefer that the housing markets were stable and that any discussion of bailouts/rescues was unnecessary. But with government’s new authority, and new role, come a unique opportunity for ASHI members. The government will become responsible for large numbers of houses that are in foreclosure, pre-foreclosure or some manner of mortgage distress. Some have been abandoned. It is well known that when houses become subject to mortgage distress, the care, maintenance and repair of the houses begin to suffer. The government, backed by the American taxpayers, will soon take control of the debt for many thousands of such houses. No one really knows the condition of these homes, and, of course, the condition affects the value of the properties that secure these debts in purchase-money mortgages. Further, the clear intent of Congress, Treasury and HUD is to sell the houses in a manner that will minimize the cost to the taxpayers. The government should have a goal to at least break even, or perhaps make a profit. This can happen only if the purchasing public can buy the houses with confidence they are in reasonably good condition. Thus, the government has a need to know the condition of the houses under federal management, and further, the government has some extra responsibility to ensure that houses it sells to the public are in reasonably good shape. ASHI has already made these arguments to personnel on the key housing subcommittees on Capitol Hill. In addition, ASHI has drafted language for consideration in follow-up legislation to address the liquidation phase of the housing bailout. Specifically, language establishing that the government agencies handling the liquidation must make efforts to ascertain the physical condition of the houses, both for its responsibilities as a housing owner and its different responsibilities as a seller of houses. The ASHI provision would require home inspections to be obtained at some point in the process. It is clear Treasury and HUD are moving at lightning speed to address the housing and credit crises — so fast, in fact, that the agencies have not worked out many of the problems or details involved in this gargantuan process. Further legislation will be required when the federal agencies and Congress move past the implementation phase of the new programs to the liquidation phase. We expect the congressional housing subcommittees will convene early in the new 111th Congress next year and begin working on those aspects of the process. It is possible they will meet sooner, in a lame-duck session to follow the elections. In any event, ASHI has asked the committees to consider the special responsibilities undertaken by the government, and the need to obtain home inspections, where possible, to make sure the taxpayers will hold, control and eventually sell houses whose condition is known to the general public. ASHI continues to pursue another opportunity: to have HUD incorporate special training about home inspections in housing counseling programs under HUD authority and funding. ASHI members will recall that Congress introduced a bill, HR4776, in the 110th Congress that would achieve this goal. Recent events would seem to indicate the country needs better education for homebuyers to know the details of their purchases. Most of the focus has been on financial education, but ASHI makes the case that buyers should have full and fair knowledge of the physical condition of their homes as well. Treasury is also aware of the need for the better-educated homebuyer. The wave of support for better buyer education is growing, and ASHI is in a position to ride that wave of public policy development.
ASHI will continue to push for consideration of its proposal to require HUD to include specific messages, drafted by ASHI, in its training programs for HUD counselors. In our view, every HUD counselor should fully understand the benefits of home inspections and be able to explain them, persuasively, to every prospective homebuyer they influence. Thus, ASHI has two legislative proposals before Congress at this time. These proposals will carry forth the positive message about home inspections and cause them to be adopted by the government. In addition, the proposals would help the government’s liquidation phase by providing some safeguards regarding the condition of the properties the government would offer to the public for sale. When the time is right and the new Congress convenes to consider the next steps in crisis management, ASHI will be on the Hill to rally attention for these proposals and will seek grass-roots support to ensure that home inspections play a significant role in the process.

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