What Is A Structural Header?

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

Header is a word used in many contexts so, what is a structural header?

Think of it as a bridge.  Its purpose is to bridge a span and transfer weight from above to each end of the span.

The header is extremely important.  Gravity works over time, and it certainly works on structural framing to pull it down or apart.  The wider the span, the larger the header.  And if the header spans a load-bearing location, like over a window or exterior door, it might need to be larger still.  And the wider the span the more the support it will need underneath.

For example, the International Building Code says that the necessary span over a 4' space would be a double 2x6" beam, with one stud supporting under each end.  And a 6' space would require a double 2x8" beam, with two studs supporting under each end.  A load-bearing location might require larger members than that.

Typically the header is a doubled-up beam which fills the space and has a flush nailing surface.  That way drywall or exterior wall materials have a smooth, flat appearance and can be attached well.

The load on this wall requires a 2x12" double header over this window!

You can see the double stud support on each side.

Those straps are there to provide what is called a "continuous path," used for earthquake protection.  A few strategically placed straps can actually prevent a house from racking during an earthquake.  A previous post on that practice can be read here.

This is the third of three windows in the same wall of the same room of the same house.

Do you notice any differences between this photo and the one above?

There is a gap, without a second beam for support filling it.

You can see the center window in this room has intermediate stud supports (called cripple studs) over the window.

This corner window has the same load as the other corner.

Continuous path straps would typically not be placed on the center window, but would on each corner window.

And here the straps are nailed to air!  Not sure how much supportive strength that provides ... says he with a wink.

On my report I simply state that this location needs investigation to insure that it is properly completed.  And that an evaluation by a structural specialist be recommended.

My recommendation:  pre-drywall inspections are the only time a house can be seen in a skeletal condition.  Once the drywall is up a multitude of sins can be covered.  Hence the so-called "pre-drywall" inspection need!  Following that it is important to have a final inspection just prior to the final walk through.  Together the two inspections provide a lot of information, and a lot of peace of mind.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Ambassador
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

 

                       Thank you Jay Markanich 

Sep 05, 2015 11:11 PM #21
Rainmaker
3,478,446
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I am glad that I didnt miss your post this week thanks to Kathy!

Sep 05, 2015 11:36 PM #22
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Debbie.  And if you mean the wholeness and harmony of the word integrity I get the metaphor!

Thanks Kathy, as always.  I had fun with my posts this week.

Kristin - there were a couple of instructive posts this week, and I appreciate you stopping by!

Sep 06, 2015 01:38 AM #23
Ambassador
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Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

I'm wondering if this is why sometimes we see cracks coming out from the corners of doors? They are missing? 

Sep 06, 2015 02:58 AM #24
Ambassador
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Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I've never seen those straps, but I was there for the construction of my house and office and I know I have headers.  I didn't have a professional inspection from a private inspector pre-drywall either time, but I did have the head county engineer (who is also a friend) give me recommendations to have the builder change this or that both times.

Sep 06, 2015 04:03 AM #25
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Diagonal cracks typically indicate a structural settlement Karen.  But it us unlikely the head is missing.

Tammy - the straps are a very recent innovation due to studies done in Japan on earthquake safety and house movement.  And for very little money a house can be protected during an earthquake.

Sep 06, 2015 04:34 AM #26
Rainmaker
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Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Jay - thanks for the lesson.  I watched my house being built years ago and took pictures.  Now I will have to go back to those pictures.

Sep 06, 2015 06:19 AM #27
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Grant - hopefully you will find it all in order!

Sep 06, 2015 06:35 AM #28
Rainmaker
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Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com

How does something so obvious get missed by the framers? I mean, come on!

Sep 06, 2015 07:39 AM #29
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I politely gave them the benefit of the doubt on the report, Nicole, I said thay maybe it was yet to be done!

Sep 06, 2015 08:14 AM #30
Ambassador
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

This must be the new construction inspection you were off to after the very boring inspection you did for my client.  

Sep 06, 2015 10:40 AM #31
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The very one, Chris Ann!  And it was more fun than yours.

Sep 06, 2015 07:49 PM #32
Rainmaker
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Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Thank you for sharing with us why pre-drywall inspections are necessary. So many consumers do not understand the structural integrity of a building could be at risk and the ramifications of shortcuts.

Sep 07, 2015 05:46 AM #33
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I have been doing them for a couple decades now Pat.  And they are essential inspections!

Sep 07, 2015 06:51 AM #34
Rainmaker
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Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Thanks for this most informative post.  I always learn so much when I read your posts.

Sep 07, 2015 01:52 PM #35
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Joan.  Sometimes things stand out and can make for an interesting post.

Sep 07, 2015 07:45 PM #36
Rainmaker
1,550,777
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Interesting.  Once the drywall goes up you can only hope that it was done right.  The more I read your posts the more I believe the pre-drywall inspection is more important than the "final inspection."

Sep 08, 2015 12:08 AM #37
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I have found them to be increasingly more important year after year Gary.  The word "professionalism" is disappearing more and more over time...

Sep 08, 2015 01:35 AM #38
Rainmaker
3,993,601
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Jay Markanich,

I've been gone for 2+ weeks and to try and catch back up with posts I started with Kathy Streib's Sunday post on her "Ah-ha" moments for the week! Your post certainly qualifies! I always have my buyers who are purchasing new construction do a pre-sheet rock inspection. My current buyers just had one completed and glad they did. Of course the builder addressed the items but would not have been caught once the sheet rock was installed.

Sep 10, 2015 10:14 PM #39
Rainmaker
1,894,241
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

As I often say, Dorie, drywall covers a multitude of sins.

Sep 10, 2015 10:36 PM #40
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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