Right in Front of Me

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

It’s funny how ones attention can become so intently focused on something, that a maelstrom can be occurring a few feet away and it can go completely unnoticed.

Cracked rafter in a Connecticut atticThe other day while inspecting an attic I was making my way back towards the entrance looking for the plumbing vent penetrations. The client had said he had detected a leak when he initially viewed the house during a rain. The flashing on the roof was in horrific condition, so the leak was no surprise. As I was looking down the roof framing for the penetration I was halted in my tracks by what I saw, a cracked rafter.

Last winter in Connecticut was a record setter for snow fall. In January a blizzard dumped over two feet of snow on top of a foot already on the ground. Several more storms through out the month piled the white stuff so deep, roofs were collapsing throughout the state. Consequently, cracked rafters have been something all home inspectors are finding since.

The client was nearby and I said to him, “you should have a look at this”.

Split rafter in a Connecticut atticHe shuffled over, the kid is over six foot tall in an attic that is barely four feet at the peak. I showed him the rafter. He says something like, “Oh I didn’t see that one. There’s one more here.”

Right behind this cracked rafter was one that was split wide open. I hadn’t seen it because I was looking at the one with, compared to the other, was a little bitty crack.

My jaw dropped when I saw that one.

Funny how ones attention can be drawn down a tunnel.

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:

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


Re-Blogged 2 times:

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  1. JOSH EVANS *JoshEvansHomes 516-655-5000 01/30/2012 11:21 PM
  2. Lenn Harley 01/30/2012 11:22 PM
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Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Thanks for the post and the reminder that it's always best to have an inspection. 


Patricia Aulson/ Seacoast NH & ME REALTOR

Jan 31, 2012 02:26 AM #17
Vanessa Saunders
Global Property Systems Real Estate - White Plains, NY
From Manhattan to the Catskills of New York

That is an excellent lesson for us all on the East Coast this season. I will be on special look-out now that I've seen your post-Thank you!


Jan 31, 2012 02:28 AM #18
Adam Tarr
MavRealty - Phoenix, AZ
PC -GRI, ABR, CDPE, RSPS, ePro - Designated Broker

That's why I ALWAYS recommend an inspection!  Who knows what evil lurks in the attics of houses.  Home inspectors do, ( and of course the Shadow knows).

Jan 31, 2012 02:34 AM #19
Nathan Rufty - 623-850-1210
Canopy Mortgage, LLC - Surprise, AZ
Mortgage Loan Originator at 623-850-1210

James, good report, this proves the reason homebuyers need to perform a home inspection, period

Jan 31, 2012 02:39 AM #20
Christine Smith
Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com - Canton, MA
Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA

I am wondering too how this gets fixed!

Jan 31, 2012 02:42 AM #21
Reba Haas
Team Reba of RE/MAX Metro Eastside www.TeamReba.com - Bellevue, WA
Team Reba, CDPE

oh my goodness that is some serious stuff there! We had a big snow storm in our area recently and a house that one of my colleagues has under contract for a buyer (it's a short sale) has had a roof become damaged to the point of water is in the attic and now collapsing parts of the ceiling. The out of town owner is unlikely to do anything but I feel for her listing agent who is going to get stuck with a bunch of work helping to sort it out. We're looking right now into the best options for the buyer who wants this home.

Jan 31, 2012 03:30 AM #22
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

I'm actually wondering the same thing as Doug in comment #1?

Jan 31, 2012 03:46 AM #23
Suzanne Gantner
Sky Realty, Central Texas Real Estate - Round Rock, TX

That doesn't look good.

Jan 31, 2012 03:56 AM #24
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Wow,  that rafter is useless.  I've seen those split at minor cracks with major temperature changes, but ususlly not that severe.  Makes you wonder what held up all that snow?

Jan 31, 2012 04:19 AM #25
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

I think many people think we "see everything" when honestly we see a lot and sometimes an extra set of eyes gives us a different perspective and all views are welcome.  By whatever means we get to the best information is what should be important.

Jan 31, 2012 04:23 AM #26
Erv Fleishman
Realty Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates

The rafters are braced on both sides by new wood. The one crack was not caused by weight. The wood was probably not good from the start. If this was a big problem due to weight, you would see it in many attics.

Jan 31, 2012 04:26 AM #27
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

James -- you are right that we sometimes get so "tunnel focused" that we miss the big problem, while noticing the small ones.  This can cause bigger issues down the road, if the big issue isn't caught.

Jan 31, 2012 05:49 AM #28
Debbie Holmes
Gold Key Real Estate - Boise, ID
Gets the job done!

Wow I know in the mountains they often have snow roofs.... I guess that is why....

Jan 31, 2012 06:48 AM #29
Rich Cederberg
eXp Realty - Albuquerque, NM
eXp Realty Agent Albuquerque

What an unfortunate side effect of winter!  Can that be repaired easily?  Glad you caught it.

Jan 31, 2012 10:26 AM #30
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, I am laughing because I think we have all done this, and most likely will do it again. Hey I tell the client to always tell me if they see something and never assume I see it (boy I sure hope I do see though ; ). More eyes the better.

Have an awesome night there Jim!!!

Jan 31, 2012 11:39 AM #31
Charlie Dresen
Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

It definitely happens which is why two sets of eyes are almost always better than one! That's quite a catch though and can hopefully be repaired. Gotta love winter and the havoc it can wreak on home construction.

Jan 31, 2012 10:01 PM #32
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Doug, Should be just adding a few new rafters.

Jon, 16 OC.

KC, Most likely sister in some new boards.

Mike, Snow is very heavy, especially a lot of it. 

Valerie, Actually I don't think it will be very expensive.

Jay, This was all nature.

Than, We didn't either...until last winter.

Bill, Happy to supply the motivation :)

Richard & Jean, There really isn't much sag, the other rafters and sheathing are helping to keep everything in place. 

Feb 01, 2012 10:57 PM #33
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Michael, I saw  a few of those collapsed sun rooms last year too. Yes this is very repairable. 

Michael, I also take "several" photos during the inspection... several hundred :)

Alison, The buyer hardly blinked. His wife on the other hand...

Joe, Yep, lucky we haven't had any significant snow this winter.

Reuben, Yeah sometimes it bothers me a bit, but the more eyes the better. Bottom line, it was found. 

Andre, Yes it does :)

Richie, That is just so very true. 

Patricia, No argument from me :)

Feb 01, 2012 11:03 PM #34
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Vanessa, Thanks.

Adam, Me and my shadow :)

Nathan, I agree of course :)

Christine, A few new boards sistered in. 

Reba, Sounds like ice dams. Saw a lot of that happening last winter too. 

Jason, Sistering in new boards. 

Suzanne, It isn't.

Jack, Memory held up the snow :)

Charlie, Yep, that is the way I see it :)

Feb 01, 2012 11:42 PM #35
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Erv, Of course It's is due to weight. Sure these rafters may have been slightly weaker than their neighbors which is why one gave out and I would guess at that point caused the crack in the neighboring rafter. BTW roof collapses were happening with frightening regularity here in CT last winter. 

Steve, Focus can be a blessing and a curse.

Debbie, The roof structure is built or I should say supposed to built to withstand the snow loads of the area. 

Rich, Yes it can.

Don, I pretty much do the same. All help is always welcome. 3

Charlie, Yes like I said to Don, any all help is appreciated. 

Feb 01, 2012 11:49 PM #36
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