Fit to Be Tied

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394


Getting tied up has its advantages

We have all been there, done that, seen it, got the T shirt. A meltdown, conniption, temper tantrum. Frustration boils over and you or your child or your parent, becomes an uncontrolled, spewing Mount Vesuvius of rage. When one reaches this point, it is said they are fit to be tied.

While I can't say I reach that point during a home inspection, I can become annoyed with what I find. Particularly when the issues begin to mount and it becomes fairly clear someone or multiple persons have dropped the proverbial ball. I find these circumstances occur usually when inspecting a newly renovated house or as many in real estate have come to affectionately know as "The Flip."

"Bedroom"The word flip generally produces a violent sphincter contraction in home inspectors. Too often, the house is eye candy for the prospective buyers. A beautiful new kitchen with granite counter tops with stainless appliances, updated bathrooms, new paint and flooring. What they typically lack, although not in every case, are permits, COs, professional tradesmen performing work where necessary (i. e., plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists) and a seeming lack of general knowledge or at least an absence of care and quality.

A recent example was a largish and not too old house with an addition said to be constructed by the contractor selling the house. The buyers had done a bit of due diligence by checking for permits (they found some at the building department), which made a few of the issues discovered even more baffling.

The house had a large addition that was a two car garage and a great room with a vaulted ceiling off the kitchen. Interestingly one of the second floor bedrooms was now sharing a wall and as it turned out had a view into the great room. The house was being sold as four bedroom cape. Since the second floor bedroom no longer has direct egress to the exterior, the room can not be considered to be and should most certainly not be used as a bedroom.

Addition without tiesThe larger concern discovered was the great rooms construction. The “bedroom” window provided an excellent vantage point to over look the room. As one can see the room has a vaulted ceiling, making the room great indeed. The dimensions of the room are approximately 30’ x 25’. What grabbed my attention looking out into the room was the unobstructed view. Something was missing.

Normally when a roof is constructed using rafters, collar and or rafter ties are necessary to strengthen the structure and prevent the roof from splaying outwards from downward forces. Typically the ceiling joists serve the purpose with a few collar ties. With a cathedral ceiling, the rafter ties are still necessary, usually being concealed as decorative beams.

No such beams are present in this ceiling.

Now one could eliminate the need for ties by constructing the roof framing using a ridge beam, not the more common ridge board. The ridge beam is a structural member unlike the ridge board. The rafters are set on the beam, which is supported by what essentially are posts inside each end of the wall. The posts carry the load to the foundation. The rafters are tied into the beam.

Diagram rafter collar tiesThe flipper says the roof is constructed with a beam. The visible portions of the ceiling and walls say probably not. First a beam to span approximately 30 feet would be quite large. A width in the neighborhood of perhaps 6 to 8 inches. The depth of the beam would also no doubt be substantial. I would estimate at least 12 inches and quite possibly more. A beam this size would be visible in the ceiling. To conceal it entirely would be immensely impractical. The other issue that just doesn’t pass the smell test is the support for the beam. Remember that window in the now non bedroom. Window openings are not able to support beams. Substantial modifications to the framing would be necessary to make the support for a ridge beam work on this wall. Whether these modifications were made can not be determined from a visual inspection, but going on what can be seen, I’d say that modifications were not done because a beam is likely not present.

The buyer’s are going round and round with the contractor. He has answers for all the issues presented. None so far have actually been answers, but dances around the questions. As I said earlier, frustration leads to an emotional explosion. It’s unfortunate the contractor can not tie up the loose ends on this house and get it sold.

Posted by

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

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning James. I haven't heard that expression in years but I think it is apt here. A good, qualified and honest home inspectot is woth their weight in goodness and safety.

Sep 04, 2015 11:49 PM #1
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Homes for sale with renovations or upgrades must be evaluated with the price in mind.

If a property has been modified, that modification must be evaluated with the price in mind.  Meaning, of course, the price when compared with market.

Sep 05, 2015 02:25 AM #2
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

James- even I, a non- builder/home inspector could see something amiss when I saw the family room.  If you're buying a flip, you still need a good home inpsection.  

Sep 05, 2015 04:37 AM #3
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Shelia, I haven't either. These things just seem to pop into my head :)

Lenn, The price does not effect my evaluation in any way. What I find sure does. 

Kathy, If ever there is a time to have a home inspected, it's the flip. 

Sep 05, 2015 09:29 PM #4
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James Quarello

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