Unzipped

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

UnzippingZzzzzzip, that sound means your pants are secure, your jacket and you are ready to head out into the cold or that silky black dress is seconds from hitting the floor. When we say something is “zipped up tight” we take it to mean all is safe and sound.

Houses are not zipped together, at least not yet. Maybe sometime in the future someone will invent a way to zipper up a house. Today and for the last couple hundred years or so, houses are fastened together with thousands of nails and screws. Nails had a profound effect on building houses. They were a strong and quicker method than the post beam construction at the time of their introduction. Initially nails were expensive because they were not mass produced. Once nails were able to be produced quickly and in huge quantities, home building methods changed significantly.

Separation of a modular house seam due to what appears inadequate fasteningSince mass production works so well for making a lot of something fast, it seems to follow that homes started being mass produced in factories. Sears, Roebuck may have been the first producer of factory built homes. The sometimes mistakenly referred to Craftsman homes, actually more an architectural style, are a popular with some home buyers today. The modern modular home appeared around the 1950s. They are quite common now. I inspect several every year.

Modular houses consist of factory built sections or modules. Each section is built and then packaged for transport to the customers building site. The sections are then assembled and fastened together. Each section must be joined together using fasteners. Most often I see large bolts spaced along the seams where the modules join.

On a recent home inspection I found some of the attic / roof seams of a modular house separated. The gap was quite wide, about one inch in most places.

Framing nails seen in side the opening of the separating seamThe contractors I found had used nails to fasten the sections together. Standard framing nails from a nail gun. Not a bolt or screw could I find anywhere on this all important connection. Now not to jump to conclusions, the factory may specify skinny little framing nails are fine for securing this seam, but I strongly tend to doubt it.

It looked like the house was coming unzipped from the top down. Kind of like that silky black dress, except this unzipping doesn’t conjure up the same kind of good time feeling.

 

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

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Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

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Ambassador
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, while there seems to be nothing I can do about coming "unglued"---I do my best to stay "zipped" :)

Jan 28, 2012 01:08 AM #1
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Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Oh my... wow... so, what is next for this house that is coming unzipped? Again, wow.... talk about shoddy work.

Jan 28, 2012 01:17 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Good morning James,

Great analogy, I love the zipper reference...I hope the owners are able to get this corrected - fast!

Jan 28, 2012 01:38 AM #3
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Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Wondering the same as Andrea.  What's the fix?  Can bolts be used to crank it back down to zero, or do you just settle for stopping it from going any further?

Jan 28, 2012 02:21 AM #4
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Charlie and we are all grateful for that :)

Andrea, My suggestion to the clients was to contact the manufacturer. My thoughts are that strategically placed bolts should resolve the issue. 

Lisa, Yes that is what the buyers are hoping for too. Over all it's a great house at super price.

Bliz, Not sure about cranking it back, but I believe bolting is the answer. 

Jan 28, 2012 02:52 AM #5
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, I knew you would be :)

Jan 28, 2012 08:16 AM #6
Rainmaker
490,607
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim,

I had seen something similar but they had not properly married the two sides at the truss and there was some displacement between the halves.

Jan 28, 2012 09:55 AM #7
Rainer
166,285
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND
BSEE, CHI

Poor installation is the bane of this type of construction. I have seen floor junctions out by more than an inch. If I were a modular home builder I think I'd have my own QC inspector visit every installation just to make sure they were done correctly to protect both buyer and my good name.

Jan 28, 2012 04:00 PM #8
Rainmaker
1,843,615
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

They probably nailed them together all from one side too! 

Hey, didn't I mention this issue on your last post?  Mine were bolted together, just never tightened, and a similar gap!

Excuse me, my daughter just told me to XYZ...

Jan 28, 2012 10:07 PM #9
Rainmaker
2,249,180
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Nailing a gap would be OK, but if there is too much of a gap, you need to use bolts. Thank you for the post.

Jan 28, 2012 11:24 PM #10
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Charlie, :)

Don, Haven't seen that...yet.

Marshall, This was open about an inch throughout the seam. Not good.

Jay, I didn't notice, but I bet you're right. 

Joe, It may be, but usually the two halves are bolted. 

Jan 28, 2012 11:37 PM #11
Rainer
238,346
Anne M. Costello
Weidel Realtors - Yardley, PA

Jim: Is this the same house that had the electrical issues?  Good to know that bolts shold be able to correct the issue.

Jan 29, 2012 02:45 AM #12
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Anne, Yes it is.

Jan 29, 2012 05:49 AM #13
Rainmaker
233,467
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

I saw that image at the top of your blog and I was just sure this was going to be about something else.

Jan 29, 2012 10:40 AM #14
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Reuben, So sorry to disappoint you :)

Jan 30, 2012 12:04 AM #15
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

James -- an excellent analogy.  If it was indeed coming apart from the top down, then perhaps lifting on the ends would help bring it back together for proper bolting.

Jan 31, 2012 06:06 AM #16
Rainmaker
684,259
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Steven, I think it may just need to be pulled together.

Feb 01, 2012 07:54 AM #17
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James Quarello

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