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