Beam Me Down, Scottie

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

While in a crawl space recently I couldn't help but notice a poorly-founded beam.  This is the main support beam under the center of the original portion of a country home with numerous additions.

The beam has moved as the makeshift columns underneath have moved.  This is very poorly done.  This has likely been shifting downward from day one.

Beam support is crucial to the entire structure of any house.  This is a "built-up beam," composed of three 2x10" planks that are only nailed together.

Not only is the beam not supported well, but it is also not sufficiently sized for what it is asked to do.  And the planks are merely nailed together, with no support under the splices.

This beam should have been larger and made more solid with numerous through bolts in addition to properly-spaced and founded columns underneath.

How do I know it has moved?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are just two of many photos I could have taken of the wall above that beam.  The gap of the settling kitchen floor on the left is 1 1/2" and the gap of the living room floor on the right is 1".  That gap varied all along that same contiguous wall.  And walking along the wall created quite a bounce!

My recommendation:  Transference of load onto proper support is what makes a house stand for a long time.  Start at the bottom and work upward to see if support is large enough and properly positioned.

You can beam me UP now, Scottie.

 

 

Posted by

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


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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lenn Harley 05/19/2010 12:09 AM
  2. Maureen McCabe 05/19/2010 01:02 AM
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Virginia Prince William County Bristow
Groups:
Professional Home Inspectors
The Vent
Adventures in Home Inspecting
Tags:
beam support
makeshift columns
improper foundation
settling house

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Rainer
207,219
Duane Murphy
Expert Real Estate Partners LLC - Appleton, WI
Broker- Owner-Real Estate -

yikes! You could do some indoor curling and I like the idea of marble races! Thanks for the photos they always add that little bit extra to the story!

May 19, 2010 09:50 AM #30
Rainmaker
656,917
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Looks like a space you'd want to get out of asap! And you mentioned getting bit by a black widow while in one - do you tie a rope and bell to your ankle when you go in those places?

May 19, 2010 10:11 AM #31
Rainmaker
269,974
Kristen Wheatley
Better Homes & Gardens | The Masiello Group - Brunswick, ME
Supporting Success - Best Job in the World!

Hey, how did you get under my house?  Oh wait a minute, that looks too dry to be my house.  Shoring up foundations and beams is quite the lucrative business here in my area.  You would be amazed what can be fixed, jacked up slowly, and straightened.  to Lenn:  if we ran from listings like this one in my area, we would be left with very little to sell.  Crooked houses are a Maine specialty.

May 19, 2010 10:11 AM #32
Rainmaker
1,244,561
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jay,

I wish I could say that those columns were unusual. They are not around here.

May 19, 2010 11:18 AM #34
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Duane - the kitchen floor was a bit like a golf green, with hills and valleys!

Joetta - I leave bread crumbs behind me so I know how to get out...

Kristen - this was one of only about 2 million problems!  I hope all the houses in Maine are not like that one!

Erica - that is one special column arrangement.

Steve - nor around here, but boy they sure do make for interesting conversation!  Oh, does my $50 get a framed AND autographed picture?

May 19, 2010 12:47 PM #35
Rainmaker
1,402,493
Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

There surely are significant clues that the beam has moved. Thanks for sharing the story and the photos.

May 19, 2010 01:42 PM #36
Rainmaker
86,952
Eric Middleton
Closer Look Property Inspections Inc. - Uniondale, NY
Professional Property Inspector

Jay- that's a mess, we could use that house to teach home inspections classes!

May 19, 2010 04:02 PM #37
Ambassador
685,194
Rob Lang
At Home Kansas Team Powered by Keller Williams Partners Inc / www.AskRobLang.com - Lawrence, KS
Local Expert in Lawrence Kansas Real Estate Homes

Good thing you took a peek down below!  Good advice.

May 19, 2010 04:22 PM #38
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

And those weren't the only clues Vickie!

Eric - it was.  That was one of about a million things.  My buyer ran like Monty Python running away from the attack rabbit.

Rob - there was a lot under there to investigate!  That wasn't the only thing!

May 19, 2010 09:54 PM #39
Rainmaker
1,533,410
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Jay, I would have quickly took the pictures and got on my communicator & beamed outta there!

May 20, 2010 07:18 AM #40
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I did Lyn!  I hit my shirt symbol and said, "Make it so..."

And up I went!

May 20, 2010 10:37 AM #41
Rainmaker
182,188
Sherry Chastain
Hendersonville, Nashville, Old Hickory, Lebanon Tennessee - Hendersonville, TN
Realtor, Selling Homes, Lake Properties,Luxury Homes,Short Sales

Wow that tops my story. My buyer wrote contract to buy a FSBO. The owner worked for Serv Pro. Inspection found mold in cabinets, garage, and closets. We run away.

May 20, 2010 05:28 PM #42
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Wow, Sherry, that's the cobbler's kids story!  If you can see that, what can't you see?

May 20, 2010 11:27 PM #43
Rainmaker
686,484
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Those "columns" are an absolute joke. Obviously no footings, dry stacked and shimmed. Surprised one hasn't completely fallen over.

May 21, 2010 12:01 AM #44
Rainer
264,127
Bill Travis
Captain Bill Realty, LLC - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner

Great information Jay. Fortunately most all the houses here in the Phoenix area are on slabs so we don't have to contend with sagging support beams - only shifting soil.

May 21, 2010 01:36 AM #45
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jim - I think the bounce over the years, because there is serious bounce in there, has caused things to move.  They have been lucky!

Bill - hopefully the slab doesn't shift so much with the soil!

May 21, 2010 05:10 AM #46
Rainmaker
354,843
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

LOL....Lenn, we just fix that stuff in SW VA!  Wouldn't take my contractor a day to fix that mess!  Now, I would not have listed it that way and I certainly would not have had my buyer buy it that way...that floor had to be obvious when looking at the house.

May 21, 2010 02:07 PM #47
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Damon - with all the subtle hints and wavy bounciness it was not very obvious at all!

May 21, 2010 02:17 PM #48
Rainer
478,183
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

I don't see any seismic straps either! Wouldn't do well in earthquake country. LOL

May 21, 2010 07:06 PM #49
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Interestingly, Russel, I have never seen a seismic strap on anything.  And that despite the fact that we live on the oldest and longest fault line in the country!

May 21, 2010 11:03 PM #50
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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