No Squash Could Mean Squish

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

SquashI bet for many not having squash would be a delight. I for one always enjoy a nice helping of most any variety of the tasty gourd. The word squash also has non gastronomic meanings. For example the racket game. Not sure how they came up with the that one. I think the most common connotation would have to be to compress, for instance, squashed like a bug. As a home inspector, I prefer not to find building components squashed.

Engineered I joists Houses, to somewhat over simplify, are built of wood sticks stacked and nailed together. In more recent years the "sticks" have changed from wood cut directly from trees, known as dimensional lumber, to engineered wood products. Trusses or engineered joists are quite common in newer construction. Trusses and engineered wood products require in many instances non traditional or modified methods of installation.

Squash blocks

One basic element that almost without exception must be installed with engineered "I" joists is squash blocks. No they are not cubes made from zucchini. Squash blocks are pieces of wood, usually 2 x 4s, placed directly next to the I joists at a load bearing point. Most often atop a main carrying beam. The purpose of the squash blocks is to prevent the web (the wood in the center) of the joist from buckling and failing under load.

While inspecting a newer house recently, I noticed the builder had used engineered wood for the main floor framing. Like I said, not uncommon to find in newer construction. Checking the joists at the main beam, conspicuous in their absence, at least to me, were squash blocks.

Now it is possible the architect may have specified some of the floor joists with out blocks because of the open wall between the living and dining rooms. What I'm sure of however, is that blocks would need to be present at the load bearing points, especially with large openings in the walls above. Not one piece of squash, I mean wood could be found along the entire length of the beam.Squash block missing

Without the blocks, the house could end up squishy, squashy.


Posted by

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

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi James,

When you mention this the builder would say "My bad" and install them.

Did you measure to see of there was any drop in the height of the truss?

If there was none, then this would be an easy fix for the builder. Unless he wanted to fight the finding. In any case he looses the fight.

Have a great day in Connecticut.

Best, Clint McKie

Aug 12, 2012 10:01 PM #1
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Great post Jim.  I see this too.  There is a reason they call them "squash" blocks!

Oh, and I like my squash fried with onions and butter.  And some zucchini thrown in for additional color.

Aug 12, 2012 10:24 PM #2
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

I'm more of zucchini guy, myself.  I'll take it Jay's way ;)

Aug 13, 2012 02:06 AM #3
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, when it comes to loading those I-joists they don't have much strength under compression for sure---just end up squashed as you say.

Aug 13, 2012 05:05 AM #4
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

Those are the times when it's nice for someone to leave plans out.   

Aug 13, 2012 06:58 AM #5
R.E. Renée Hoover, Salesperson
Century 21 Geba Realty, Milford, PA; Licensed in PA & NYS - Milford, PA
Poconos, Pike, Wayne, Monroe Counties, PA; PA/NYS

Not required under current code?  Of all the things that are required that make one wonder, why not squash blocks?

Aug 13, 2012 12:56 PM #6
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

I would never be under the house to check that out, so when you write about this particular situation, what do you remend be done to fix the missing squash??

Aug 13, 2012 01:29 PM #7
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Clint, The house is 5 years old, the builder is long gone.

Jay, Seems some things are universal, I like zucchini and onions too. 

Jason, As am I.

Charlie, The open web variety do have their advantages. 

Reuben, That would have been great and fun.

Renee, They are required under code, but more importantly by the manufactures. 

Carla, Have a framing contractor install them. 

Aug 13, 2012 09:32 PM #8
Bruce Kunz
C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100 - Howell, NJ
REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale

Good catch, Jim. It is amazing how many corners are cut. I'm guessing finding these things helps keep your job fun?
I understand the engineered products burn much more readily than real wood as well. Not sure how much longer they'll last as acceptable as more is learned about the hazards.
Thanks, Bruce.


Aug 13, 2012 10:27 PM #9
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

James, squash blocks seem to be a simple thing to add during the initial construction. Why would they leave them out? Two by fours aren't that expensive compared to the over all cost.


Aug 13, 2012 11:10 PM #10
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Bruce, You are right about both things. The job is fun and trusses burn much faster than dimensional lumber. 

Michael, I would guess it could be they didn't know or they just didn't bother. 

Aug 14, 2012 09:27 PM #11

My hubby and I had a house built by a large home builder in our area. We have some areas in the floor that are sinking. On our 10 month walk through it was discovered that they did not put some interior squash blocks in for the supporting wall above. The builder rep said that they were not in the plans, but that they are implied and builders know to put them in anyways. Should the squash blocks have been in the plans?

Dec 09, 2018 02:32 PM #12
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