Saturday, July 22, 2017

Could Faulty Work Or Lack Of A Building Permit For Home Improvements Cause An Insurance Company To Deny A Claim?


While there are plenty of good reasons to have any improvements to your home done with a building permit by a licensed professional, the possibility of a denied insurance claim because of incompetent or non-permitted work is not one of them. Insurance companies pay for perils listed in the policy, such damage from an electrical fire or plumbing leak, even if shoddy work resulted in the damage.
   
We occasionally hear stories to the contrary, but they appear to be the stuff of urban legends and there is no confirmed incident we know of. The insurance company will likely subrogate (go after) the person who did the improperly performed or non-permitted work and possibly cancel the homeowner’s policy, but it will not affect payment of the claim. That is one of the many ways that insurance companies make money, going after the person or company who provided the unpermitted or poor workmanship.
   

Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                        
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                        

"Looking Beyond The Obvious"
2017 BOB Winner
The Best Home Inspection Company
SitePro Home Inspections

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Can I Add To My Septic Tank To Help It Work Better?


Products that get dishes cleaner, teeth whiter, and indoor air fresher are in every home, and for a good reason: because they work. So it makes sense that an additive to improve the performance of your septic tank would be a good idea too.

The problem is septic tanks don’t need any help. They only require naturally occurring anaerobic soil bacteria to function just fine. Chemical additives have repeatedly been proven to be harmful, and the states of Washington and Massachusetts have passed legislation banning them. They allow only biological additives that have been reviewed and approved by the state health department. Both states provide a list of approved products, with names like “Earthworm Family-Safe Drain Cleaner,” “Liquid Alive” and, our favorite, “Push.”

The additives are not evaluated for how well they function, only to verify that they will not harm your septic system. Multiple university studies have shown minimal or no benefit from biological additives.
   
A study by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was particularly interesting because it documented the amazing resilience of the naturally occurring bacteria following being totally wiped out by a big dose of household plumbing disinfectants. After dumping enough liquid bleach, Drano®, or Lysol® into the tank to kill everything, the bacteria population fully recovered within 30 to 60 hours.
   
The recommendation that university researchers, along with most septic tank contractors, offer for keeping your septic tank in good health is to skip the additives and focus on what not to put down the drain. Undigested food scraps, grease, and excessive use of disinfectants and chemical drain cleaners top their list.

However, SitePro recommends a few packages of ‘Yeast’ from your local grocery store.


Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

"Looking Beyond The Obvious"
The Best Home Inspection Company
SitePro Home Inspections

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why Is An Older Water Heater An Insurance Problem?


Here are some statistics from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, an insurance industry research organization:

➡Most water heater failures occur when the water heater has reached its life expectancy and the tank begins to rust and corrode.

➡The average age at failure was 10.7 years.

➡More than two-thirds of all water heater failures are due to a slow leak or sudden burst of the tank.

➡Water heater failures cost the insurance company an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible is paid.

Because water heaters corrode from the inside of the tank outward, there is often no external sign of its deterioration. The water heater in the picture above is 28 years old. Other than a little dust and some discoloration of the Energy-Guide sticker, it doesn’t look its age--and that’s the problem. It is a proverbial “accident waiting to happen.”

When insurance companies request a 4-point inspection for older homes, as they are doing more often lately, if the water heater is over about 25 to 30 years old they will request that it be replaced as a requirement for coverage.
 
There are several things you can do to extend the life of an older water heater, such as draining the sediment from the bottom of the tank every couple of years and replacing the sacrificial anode as necessary, but the best way to avoid a water heater failure and subsequent water damage is to just replace it.


Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                        
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                        

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Does The Seller Have To Fix All Defects Found By A Home Inspector To Sell The House?


Not exactly. The real estate contract between you and the seller defines what, if any, defects that we uncover will need to be repaired. We use the word “defect” to describe anything we find that is not acceptable in the home, and that includes a wide range of house problems--from something minor such as drooping ceiling fan blades to larger issues, like a leaking roof or foundation damage.

Every defect or “area of concern” that we call out will not necessarily to be a defect as defined in the real estate contract. For example, a roof that is not leaking but is near the end of its serviceable life, with only a year or two before it has to be replaced, is not deemed to be a reason for a new roof courtesy of the seller. An active roof leak would kick it over to the repair list, but then it would further require a licensed roofer (or two) to state that repairing the leak would be a waste of time, based on the overall condition of the roof, before a simple roof repair at the leak area would be eliminated as an option for the seller.

Sometimes a homeowner’s insurance company will require that the roof has to be inspector-certified to have 5-years of life remaining before they will issue insurance for the home. Because insurance is necessary for financing, and acquiring reasonable financing is a contract contingency, a new roof may be necessary in order for you--or anyone financing their purchase of the home--to buy the home. This scenario can help you get a new roof, for example, but will likely require some negotiating give-and-take between both sides of the deal.

There is one simple parameter that applies to most real estate contracts regarding seller’s obligation for repairs: if it’s functional, it is acceptable. A “cosmetic” defect (usually defined as any problem that is unsightly by does not affect the functionality of the home) is normally excluded from the seller’s repair list. A rusty cabinet of the a/c condenser unit or some dings in the baseboard are typical examples. Occasionally, a defect can ride the line between cosmetic and functional. An insulated window that has become slightly fogged over due to loss of the seal between the double panes can be argued as merely cosmetic. Or, since the loss of the inert gas reduces the insulating quality of the window, it can be considered a functional defect.

There are also often dollar-limits in the contract for the repairs in different specified categories. If the cost of the repairs exceeds the dollar-amount of the seller’s obligation, the rest will come out of your pocket or remain undone until after you close and take possession of the home.
   
And, of course, if you have signed an “as-is” contract, then the seller is not obligated to fix anything. The purpose of the inspection is for you to determine whether the cost of any necessary repairs is affordable when factored into the buy price of the house.
  
The point of all this is that it’s a complicated issue and, it’s a negotiation. The process of determining what repairs the seller will make, or price concessions the seller will give you for the repairs, is what an experienced, professional realtor is good at. We provide you with a list of defects, then you and your realtor sort through it, determine what your priorities are, and your Realtor negotiates the best deal possible from your prioritized list.


Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)          

Monday, July 10, 2017

How Do I Get Insurance If My Home Can't Pass A 4-Point Inspections?


Most insurance companies require a satisfactory 4-point inspection report be submitted to them before they will insure an older home—typically more than 30 years old or so, depending on the company. The purpose of the inspection is to determine if there are any deteriorated or unsafe conditions in the home that have developed due to its age, which have the potential to cause an insurance claim in the future. The four points are the roof, plumbing, electrical, and heating/air conditioning. To learn more about 4-point inspections and what are the most common 4-point defects, we suggest that you read one of our other blogs at:

http://siteprohomeinspections.blogspot.com/2016/07/a-four-point-inspection-is-often.html

But if the inspector turns up so many defects during the 4-point inspection that the insurance company declines to insure the property until they are fixed, there is another option. It’s called a “builder’s risk” or, sometimes, a “vacant property” or “surplus lines” policy, and is often purchased by remodelers that buy uninhabitable houses in order to have insurance while they are repairing them for resale.

One company that writes this type of policy is Tapco Insurance Underwriters. You cannot buy the policy directly from the company and need to find a local independent insurance agent that represents them.

There are virtually no requirements, other than providing an address, in order to secure this type of insurance. The downside is that it’s expensive; so you only want to use it for as long as it takes to get the house improved sufficiently to pass a 4-point inspection. The minimum policy term offered is usually 6-months.

As far as we know, no company offers this type of policy for a manufactured/mobile home. Also, many policies include a clause that does not allow you to get a refund for the unused portion if you complete your repairs quickly, and want to cancel and switch to standard homeowner’s insurance before the end of the policy term.

Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Should A Home Buyer Be There Fore The Inspection?


If you can, it’s well worth the time, because we can talk with you about both the problems and the good points of the home you’re buying. In the final report, we only review the defects. And, while we also include plenty of photos in your report, there’s nothing that makes things quite as clear as actually examining problem areas with a professional inspector.

Unfortunately, a real-life home inspection is not as exciting as the shows on HGTV, where the host immediately sees, understands, and explains amazing things about the house as he saunters from room-to-room, then reaches for a Saw-All to slice away a chunk of wall and show you what’s inside.
 
We can’t cut any holes, pull up flooring, or disassemble anything without incurring the wrath of the seller. Also, tagging along with us at the beginning of the inspection is usually counter-productive. We need to spend some time alone examining the whole house before we can talk to you intelligently about it. That stain in the bedroom ceiling, for example, will typically require a look in the attic and up on the roof before we can understand what’s going on.
 
Plus, house defects are often interconnected. One defect can cause a second defect, which will then create a third problem. A concealed water intrusion area inside a wall, for example, can cause corrosion in an electric receptacle, which makes the receptacle short out, which causes a circuit breaker in the panel to trip repeatedly. Investigating the tripped breaker leads us back to the concealed water intrusion, one step at a time.

So please don’t be offended if we ask you to let us have a little time alone with the house (typically about half an hour) before we can begin to talk with you, answering your questions, and walking around and showing you our findings. Some realtors suggest that their customers arrive about a half hour to an hour after the beginning of the inspection so that the inspectors will be well-oriented to the home and ready to talk with you--and we think that’s a great idea. Of course, if you are planning on doing some measurements for your furniture placement while at the inspection, the first half-hour is a good time to do that, too.
 
If your work or travel schedule makes it impossible to be at the inspection, be sure to let us know, because then we want to talk with you beforehand about any special concerns you have, things you saw that we should investigate further, photos you want us to send you, your remodeling ideas, and anything else you want us to know about the house.

To learn more valuable strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here are a few of our other blog posts:

http://siteprohomeinspections.blogspot.com/2017/

Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What Are The Minimum Requirements For A Shower?


The 2014 Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC) have the following minimum standards for residential showers:

1)    Not less than 30-inch interior dimensions measured from finished interior surfaces, with a minimum of 900 square inches floor area, except that a shower can be a minimum of 25 inches in one dimension if the total area is increased to 1300 square inches. Fold-down seats are permitted as long as the minimum 900 square inches is maintained when the seat is up. Shower heads, grab bars, soap dishes, and valves allowed to protrude into minimum required area.

2)    Shower walls must be nonabsorbent up to 72 inches above the drain.

3)    The shower access opening or door must have a minimum of 22-inch clear opening width.

4)    A listed anti-scald, pressure balance (single handle) faucet required, set to maximum 120º F.

5)    Finished floor should slope 1/4” to 1/2” per foot towards the drain.

6)    The finished curb must be between 2 inches and 9 inches above the drain level.


Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Buyer's Home Inspections by SitePro - Inspections With Your Interests In Mind


After saving and dreaming for months and years, you’ve finally found the home of your dreams. It has just the right décor, space, bedrooms and amenities you and your family need right now. You’ve checked out the schools. You’ve checked out the neighborhood. You‘ve even timed the drive to and from work.

BUT, have you taken seriously the importance of having a BUYER’S HOME INSPECTION done on your home? One where YOUR interests are in mind? Probably not.

Perhaps your neighbor has mentioned a home inspector or your REALTOR has referred their favorite home inspector? Can you be assured that this home inspector will take the time not only to perform a thorough and detailed inspection but walk through the entire home explaining defects mentioned in the report as well as maintenance items? Will this inspector explain how systems work in a fun and educational manner so you know and feel comfortable with your home? After all, this is YOUR home and you want to know as much as you can about it!

Finally, when you are nearing the end of the inspection, will the inspector be scrambling to get you a report on site or will he review his notes and prepare one of the most easily understood and professional reports in the industry within 12-24 hours? After all, it is your home.

Do you want a rushed inspection and report possible errors or one that has YOUR best interests in mind? SitePro always has your interests in mind! After all, the largest part of our business is from happy past clients who have gone through the home buying process just like you.

So buy that home and schedule your inspection today knowing you have a trusted inspection company with your interests in mind!

Call 850-934-6800 To Schedule Your Inspection Today!!


Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How Do Termites Get Into A Concrete Block House?

Termites can infest a block house from the top or bottom, depending on the species. The ones that get in from the bottom, subterranean termites, live in the soil and enter the house to consume wood, then return to their nest in the ground. Older concrete block houses are vulnerable to subterranean's because of a type of construction called “block stem wall” that was used until about the mid-1980s. The block walls were laid on top of a concrete foundation footing in the ground. Then a floor slab was poured inside the walls, with a thin strip of fiber-board placed on the wall around the perimeter of the slab area to allow room for the thermal expansion and contraction of the floor slab without damaging the walls. It’s called an “expansion joint,” and moisture in the ground causes it to deteriorate over time, leaving about a half-inch gap between the floor slab and the inside surface of the block wall.


Subterraneans that find the gap between the floor slab and wall encounter the bottom of a tasty wood baseboard, and also the thin vertical strips that run up the wall from the floor to the ceiling behind the drywall, called furring strips. After they munch on the baseboard a while, the furring strips provide a highway directly up to the wood roof trusses at the top of the wall. And, best of all for the little critters, they can do all their damage undetected.


The photo above shows a fiber expansion between a floor slab and concrete block stem wall. Newer homes combine the floor slab and concrete footing into one piece, called a “thickened edge slab” or “monolithic foundation.” The concrete block is laid along the perimeter of the slab, over the thickened edge, and there is no concealed gap in the ground. Termites can still find their way into the home thru penetrations in the floor slab created for plumbing pipes, electrical conduits, air conditioning refrigerant lines, and small cracks that develop in the slab as it hardens or settles. But access to the home’s wood components is not as easy as in a stem wall home.


Drywood termites have a different strategy: during the spring swarming season, a winged queen termite and her flying entourage enter the house from above, typically through a soffit vent or gap in the roof around a chimney or plumbing vent. They are slower to establish a colony than subterraneans and less voracious eaters but can be harder to detect because they don’t leave the telltale surface mud-tubes that are characteristic of subterraneans. Whether it’s subterraneans or dry wood, concrete block houses may be less vulnerable to termite attack than a frame house, but not immune.



Subterranean termite mud tube running across drywall on interior of
concrete block wall, from wood window trim to wood cove molding.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why Is There Mold Around The Air Conditioning Vents?


The louvered metal grille that directs conditioned air from a duct into the room is called a register, and mold around an air conditioning register can have several causes:

1) If the cold air coming out of the register is too cold compared to the room air, condensate will form on the surface of the register and migrate over to the surrounding drywall. Wet drywall will begin to grow mold within a few days.

The difference between the room air and cold air coming out of the register is called the “temperature differential” or “split,” and more than about a 22º F split will cause condensate to form.

2) Duct air leakage above the register or at the connection of the duct to the register can also cause condensate to form, even if the temperature split is not excessive, because the air in the unconditioned attic or wall cavity may be significantly warmer. If squirrels or rodents get into the attic, they may shred openings in ducts for material to make their nests. Workmen in the attic also occasionally cause duct damage that leads to leakage.

3) Closing the louvers of the register completely—to shut off air conditioning to a room—can also lead to mold growth.

Mold around an air conditioning register is a good reason to call a licensed air conditioning contractor for evaluation and repair before the problem causes damage that requires more expensive mitigation.


Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          

850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why Can't I Use My Home's Central Air Conditioning System To Cool The Garage?


Tapping into your air conditioning system to add a couple of ducts may seem like an excellent idea if you if have a garage workshop, but it is not allowed by the building codes. The International Residential Code (IRC) and Florida Building Code (FBC - R302.5.2) both state that residential air conditioning ducts “shall have no openings in the garage.” The reason is fire safety. Garage fires tend to spread farther and cause more injuries and dollar loss per fire than fires that start in all other areas of the home, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

So the building codes have multiple requirements intended to maintain a fire separation between a dwelling and an attached garage, particularly focused on making sure that there are no openings or penetrations through the walls and ceiling between the house and garage that would allow a fire to spread into the house. An air conditioning duct is a route that provides a direct air connection to the house if a/c vents/registers are installed, allowing a quick spread of fire and fumes into the home.

There are other good reasons not to run a/c ducts out to serve a garage, including that your system was not designed for serving about 20% more square footage, garage doors leak air and are difficult to seal, and—because return air ducts would pull garage fumes into the house—the lack of return air would simply pressurize the garage and do a poor job of reducing the temperature.

Cooling down your garage with a mini-split (ductless) air conditioner or wall unit is fine, just don’t use your home’s central a/c system.


Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

Monday, June 19, 2017

Does An Attic Access Opening/Hatch In A Garage Have To Be Fire Rated?


The garage is recognized by fire officials and the building code as a place where plenty of house fires get started. Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, paint thinner, degreaser, and other solvents, are often stored in a garage. A car in the garage can leak gasoline onto the floor, and the gas itself or its vapor is easily ignitable by a spark. So the Florida Building Code (FBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) have safety standards for maintaining a separation for fire protection between a garage and the house, to keep any garage fire from quickly spreading into the home.

One of the separation requirements is that the ceiling of a garage should be “not less than 1/2-inch gypsum board or equivalent.” Any openings for attic access in the garage ceiling must also meet this standard, so an attic hatch cover panel of 1/2-inch gypsum board obviously meets this requirement, but there is also fire-treated plywood that can be used. Fire-rated attic ladders with a 30-minute burn rating are another alternative. What is not acceptable is a panel of regular plywood or other readily flammable material for an attic hatch cover in a garage.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Why Is A Garage Floor Sloped?


It makes practical sense for drainage, especially if you hose down your garage floor every once in a while, but also happens to be required by the both the Florida Building Code (FBC) and International Residential Code (IRC). The slope is only necessary for the area where a vehicle is parked. It can be sloped either to the garage door or a floor drain, and the amount of slope is not specified. Here’s how the building code states it:


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Does An Electric Recepticle Outlet In A Storage Shed Require GFCI Protection?


The National Electrical Code [NEC 210.8 (A)(2)] requires a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection for “all 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles” installed in “accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use.” That pretty clearly defines a detached storage shed and means any receptacles inside should be GFCI-protected. It has been argued, but unsuccessfully, that a shed mounted on skids does not constitute “on grade.”

Since a backyard shed may have the closest available receptacle for plugging in electric gardening tools like a string trimmer, lawn mower, or leaf blower, making sure that it has the wet-environment shock protection provided by a GFCI just makes good sense.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

What Is A 'Continuous Load Path'?


Most people think of the structural failure of a house as collapse. But falling down is only one way a structure can fail, and gravity is not always the culprit. A building can also fail upwards, when a hurricane creates a pressure imbalance that literally sucks off the roof; and it can fail sideways, when high winds cause lateral pressure that makes a gable end wall hinge away from the rest of a wall assembly and fall over. A earthquake can also put severe lateral and uplift loads on a house.

Nails are the traditional connectors for the wood structural components of a house, and they are excellent at keeping wood framing snug and aligned so that the weight of the structure, its furnishings, and occupants can be reliably transferred down to the ground without anything shifting. But nails do not work as well for uplift and lateral loads because they are often in what engineers call “withdrawal,” which means that when these unusual loads are applied they are typically in the opposite direction of the way that the nail was hammered into the wood and the nails simply “pull out” with little resistance.

To avoid failure of a house structure from uplift and lateral loads each piece, from the roof down to the foundation, must be securely connected together like the links of a chain. This is called a continuous load path and, also like a chain, it is only as strong as its weakest link.

Both metal connector plates and structural wood panel sheathing are used in a wood stud-framed house to create a continuous load path. The illustration below shows examples of the typical metal connectors to create a secure load path from the base plate up to the roof trusses.


A concrete block house utilizes concrete columns and concrete-filled cells with steel reinforcement running from the foundation/floor slab to the tie beam, then metal connectors to the wood components above it, to tie everything together. Constructing a continuous load path is a building code requirement.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

What Is The Difference Between A Carport And A Garage?


Most people would define a garage as a completely enclosed room with a garage door for parking a car out of the weather, while a carport is a roofed-over parking space with open sides.

When a carport is attached to a house, it usually has two or three open sides. But the International Residential Code (IRC) and Florida Building Code (FBC) have a very specific way of defining the difference between carport and garage:


This means that as soon as you add a third wall to a carport, like in the photo below, it becomes a garage and must meet all the fire safety standards required of a garage.


The fact that the fourth side is open and there is no garage door does not make a difference. Because flammable materials are often stored in an attached garage, there are multiple code requirements intended to enhance the resistance of the walls and ceiling to the spread of a garage fire into the living area of a home.


Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified  Certified Inspector  #FEV32561020109 
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)                          

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What Do You Check When You Inspect An Electric Garage Door?


The garage door is the largest and heaviest moving object in most homes, plus some of its components are under high tension. Improper installation, damage, or poor maintenance creates a dangerous condition that can cause serious injury or even death. So we take garage door inspection seriously.

Here’s a summary of the 10 points we check on a garage door during a home inspection:

1) Confirm that the garage door has a manual release handle, and that it is functional.

2) Check the garage door panels for cracks, dents, signs of fatigue, or separation of materials.

3) Confirm that the door has safety warning labels in place.

4) Check that all hardware is securely and correctly attached, and visually inspect the springs for damage.

5) Verify satisfactory door operation: handles or grip points on the inside and outside of door, door moves freely and is not excessively noisy, and rollers stay in the track throughout the opening and closing.

6) Check that the counterbalance springs have a containment mechanism, such as a center cable or protective shaft.

7) Operate door with wall button, confirming that it is in clear view of the door, at 5-feet above the floor, and safely away from all moving parts



The wall button in this photo is located in the laundry room and does not have the required clear view of the garage door if the door from laundry to garage is closed. It should be relocated to the garage.

1) Confirm that the photoelectric safety beam is a maximum of 6-inches above the floor.

2) Test the safety beam (non-contact reversal mechanism), and verify that the door returns to fully open position.

3) Test the contact reversal safety system, and verify that the door returns to fully open position. The mechanism should be set to reverse itself at 10 to 15 lbs. of resistance.


The two most common defects we find in the Gainesville area are: a safety beam set too high, and the contact reversal system set to too high a resistance before it reverses.

Manually operated and older, tilt-up garage door are evaluated somewhat differently, but with door operation safety as the primary concern. Our inspection sequence is based on Technical Data Sheet #167, issued by DASMA (Door & Access Manufacturers Association International), which is considered an industry standard. You can visit their website for more information at : http://www.dasma.com/.

While we hope you find SitePro of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the state of florida and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.