Bouncy, Bouncy

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

When a contractor decides to forgo the usual steps constructing a garage, a back yard toy comes inside.

Super size trampolineGrowing up no one had a trampoline in my neighborhood. We had to make do jumping on our beds. We enjoyed it, my parents not so much. My kids have a trampoline and so do the neighbors. In fact I see trampolines in the yards of many of the houses I inspect. Today, unlike when I was a kid, there are also trampoline parks. Sprawling rooms of multiple taut, spring loaded surfaces where kids can leap about like walking on the moon. The ultimate bounce house.

Trampolines sure are fun, but you wouldn't want one in your house. Or more to the point, you wouldn't want your house to be the trampoline. And yet this is exactly what I discovered during a recent home inspection. The only "good" thing about this bounce house was it was the attached garage and not the house itself.

After years of doing home inspections, I seem to have acquired a sixth sense about houses. Maybe it's just inspector's intuition or simply experience. The attached garage off the front of this house spoke to me the minute I pulled up. It was clear the garage was an addition, first red warning light with more to follow as the inspection progressed.

Diagram of girder Structural support beams, the word conjures images of strong, ridged girders upon which buildings are set. The picture is not imaginary, it's factual. Along with the foundation, the support beams in any building, whether a house or garage, must be robust and firm. Typically the girder will be designed by an engineer and or architect to meet the unique load requirements of the particular structure.

Residential beams usually come in one of three basic types, a built up beam consisting of multiple pieces and layers of framing lumber, joined together in a specific manner on site to form a girder. Steel beams and engineered wood beams are the other common types.

The built beam is by far the most common. As I said, they are  typically constructed on site and probably the least expensive of all. The minimum width for a built up beam is 10". Actually I should say a 2" x 10" piece of framing lumber, which is neither 2 inches or 10 inches when finished. A girder would typically be constructed of at least three widths of these boards or boards of a larger dimension.

Support beam without supportsDid I mention that beams also need support along their length at specific points. Again the engineer and or architect would determine placement and amount. Built up beams require support at the seams where the various pieces of lumber join to make the beam.

Details, details, it always about the details.

So this garage was large, two bays wide. The first thing that was odd was that the only way to access the garage from the house was through the basement. Not usually allowed in modern construction. Being the garage didn't seem to be too terribly old, that immediately called in to question permits.

Inadequately constructed / supported girderLooking around I noticed the common wall was not covered in sheet rock for fire protection. A basic requirement. There was an attic access with a pull down stairway. Again fire protection concerns. I ascend these stairs into the attic space. Like the garage, the attic was full of stuff. As I began to walk into the attic I noticed the floor was a little springy.

Talk about a bounce in my step.

I quickly went down into the garage to view the support structure for the attic floor.

I was floored!

The support beam ran front to back, the length of the garage. Instantly conspicuous in their absence were support posts. Not one along the entire 22 foot beam.

And yet it got better...or worse depending on how you look at it.

Beam supported by garage door header The support beam itself consisted of two widths of 2" x 8" framing lumber. Unquestionably inadequate, especially in the absence of posts. One end of the beam was supported by the door header, very dubious. The opposite end I was unable to tell because the wall was covered.

As I said earlier, the attic was loaded with stuff. None the less the buyer volunteered (a brave young man. He is a soldier) to demonstrate the trampoline effect of the construction for the ensuing video. You can hear my exclamation of awe.


Now you can say you've seen a bounce garage. 

Posted by

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

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Scott Gleason
RE/MAX Select - Westfield, NJ
Westfield NJ New Homes Specialist

Great things to know and share with our buyers and sellers.  Thank you, James.

Nov 18, 2014 05:34 AM #15
Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Another perfect example of why you always get a home inspection done. As an agent maybe all over the home but not in the attic. Price is a cure all.

Nov 18, 2014 06:50 AM #16
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

James Quarello - 22' long beam with no support! No wonder it was a 'bouncy' garage. (Isn't a support required every 8'?)

Nov 18, 2014 07:25 AM #17
Matt Brady
Skyline Home Loans - Del Mar, CA
Lending With Competence And Character

Stunning video. But if I put in posts it will make opening the car doors harder! Even a glue lam will not help if the header is the support. It might survive an earthquake though!

Nov 18, 2014 09:06 AM #18
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

James, I could not play the video either here or on youtube.  Sorry I couldn't see a bouncing garage, don't believe I have run acrocc one yet!

Nov 18, 2014 09:49 AM #19
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Homeowners probably did not have such good inspector like yourself when they bought this house. Now, they will need to fix all that for a new buyer or....drop the price.

Nov 18, 2014 04:28 PM #20
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good morning James. But James, what will the kids have to play on? No bouncing floors means no fun. Some builders! Makes one wonder.

Nov 18, 2014 05:42 PM #21
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Geez.  Good thing the buyer (potential buyer?) hired you to do the inspection!  Trampoline inside?  No thanks!

Nov 18, 2014 07:41 PM #22
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Wow is right.  Moon walk!

And great graphic.

This is why I like a cathedral or tray ceiling in the master bedroom.  So I can still get great height when jumping on the bed. 

Well, my wife won't let me have a tramp in the back yard...

Nov 18, 2014 08:44 PM #23
Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector
SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno - Bourbonnais, IL
The Home Inspector With a Heart!

Love the video, very brave for sure. Looks like Uncle Joe is at it again. 

Nov 18, 2014 08:51 PM #24
Richard Robibero, ABR, SRS
Panorama R.E. Limited - Toronto, ON
Selling Your Home as if it were My Own!

Go with the least expensive guy with no referrals and you get what you pay for. Why anyone would do that on a place that they live is beyond me.

Nov 18, 2014 09:49 PM #25
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

Just when you think you've seen eberything, eh Jim? Amazing...

Nov 18, 2014 11:23 PM #26
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Absolutely amazing and very, very scary that something like this garage was even built... Question: by whom?!!

Nov 19, 2014 06:34 AM #27
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Thanks for sharing! I always learn so much from your posts.

Nov 19, 2014 11:52 PM #28
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, That make me think of a home I did that had a concrete garage floor over living space. When I jump off my ladder from about the second rung the whole floor shook like the one in you video.

Nov 20, 2014 01:28 AM #29
Summer Robertson
Team Properties Group, LLC - Gillette, WY
Your Gillette, WY Real estate Resource

Great Post!.. very interesting!!

Nov 20, 2014 05:28 AM #30
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

 Charlie, See you understand :)

Gary, Hard to figure, but its definitely a disaster. 

Lenn, There will be some negotiating after this discovery :)

Shelia, Scary indeed.

Debbie, The video does make the point :)

Richie, Thanks

Chris, Holy crap indeed :)

Nov 20, 2014 10:20 PM #31
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Fred, No question, when the work lacks permits, this what you often find.

Catherine, Don't know.

Brian, Thanks! Inspectors appreciate agents that do the same.

Colleen, Sometimes buyer's aren't thinking too clearly :)

Will, thanks.

Kyle, Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Thanks for following.

Jeff, it sure is.

Scott, You're welcome.

Bill, we all have our areas of expertise. 

Nov 20, 2014 10:28 PM #32
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Praful, Support would be dependent on the beam dimension. 

Matt, Even a glulam will need supports.

Evelyn, Must be a glitch. Hope you never run across one.

Inna, Looks that way.

Michael, I stop wondering or trying to figure it out. Got tired of banging my head against the wall :)

Kat, Well he was happy I found it. 

Jay, The tray ceiling explained. I will use that one in the future :)

Scott, He was.

Richard, Yes it makes you wonder.

Wayne, There is always someone out there pushing the envelope :) 

Nov 20, 2014 10:40 PM #33
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Olga, Not sure who built it.

Margaret, Thanks!

Don, Concrete!? Again, Wow!

Summer, Thanks.

Nov 20, 2014 10:42 PM #34
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