Attention to Detail Now Saves Disappointment Later

During an inspection of a 35-year-old home, I found unconventional repairs to floor joists in the crawl space. I found joists cut near the girder, and short sections of LVL beams attached to offer support.  When a floor joist is cut, typically the correct repair to ensure structural stability is to attach a full-length joist next to the damaged one that runs from girder to sill plate. 

As can be seen in the two pictures, this was not done. My report reflected the defect and recommended that a structural engineer evaluate the repairs and design a repair plan. The seller offered to have their own structural engineer evaluate the home, then they would repair the joists and other structural issues.  After several weeks, my client contacted me and stated that the repairs had been done and asked for a re-inspection of the property prior to closing. I did so and found that the floor joists were not repaired. The client stated that they received a report from a structural engineer approving the unconventional repairs that I found. Given my findings, and knowledge of construction, I was surprised that the repairs were considered structurally sound.   I asked my client for the engineers’ report and upon review, found that the cut floor joists were not mentioned.  The engineers report only mentioned foundation repairs that had been done, and it was those and only those that he approved.  I notified my client that it was my opinion the floor joists were not considered in the structural engineer’s report and they should have their own structural engineer evaluate.  My client then hired their own structural engineer, who evaluated the floor joists and found that repairs needed to be made.

When purchasing a home, details are especially important.  In this case, the sellers offered to pay for a structural engineer.  That engineer was asked to evaluate what the sellers asked him to evaluate.  Since the joists were not mentioned in his report, he more than likely was not asked to evaluate them.  My client trusted the sellers, and after receiving their structural report, assumed that the repairs they asked for were done correctly.  The seller’s structural engineers report was several pages, and unless you know what you’re looking for, could be confusing.  

When purchasing a home, the devil can be in the details. Read all reports thoroughly, ask specific questions, and ensure that you hire people who will be looking out for your best interests.