Stamp of Approval

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

ApprovedRubber stamped; a phrase that characteristically has a negative connotation meaning an action or product hasn’t been scrutinized for quality, safety and or appropriateness. On the converse side, a stamp or marking can mean that exactly those qualities are present. Construction material ratings and standards are very helpful, providing consistency and a level of safety when a structure is built or repaired. Construction grade wood products come from the factory with stamping that identifies their quality, use and strength. With plywood or OSB an APA (Engineered Wood Association) stamp denotes quality, product design use and performance.

While walking the roof of an older ranch style house, I noticed several spongy areas under my feet. Some were in places that I would expect water damage, others were not. That in and of it self was not unusual, as I said the house was older, so the roof covering could have been let go for many years past the time of needed replacement. The attic would hopefully fill in the blanks.

Finding the attic after descending from the roof, I entered through the small scuttle opening located in the hall closet. Initially scanning the area from the entry with my flashlight, I noted several areas of newer wood sheathing on the roof. Climbing in and looking closer I noticed the sheathing was bowing in many locations. That would explain the spongy roof. What was somewhat strange was the framing was 16" on center. With a wider span, 24", some deflection is "normal".

Newer plywood Being that the wood is newer, I would expect to see an APA grading stamp denoting the plywood's intended use and dimension. I could find none on any of the numerous sections of new wood. Yes the stamp is place on one side, so it could be on the covered portion. However, the stamp should be installed where it can be seen, for what would seem obvious reasons.

The other concern related to the soft roof surfaces is the sectioning of the new wood. The panels are rated for use as entire sheets or cut sections meeting stated specifications. According to the APA; "Panels are assumed continuous over two or more spans with the long dimension or strength axis across supports". One of the softer parts of the roof was found to be a section of plywood placed over a single span.

Without the stamp visible, assuming one is present at all, the grade of the wood used can only be guessed. However the evidence shows poor understanding of wood use and quality parameters and shoddy installation practices. The panels appear to be a low quality, general purpose plywood, not structural panels.

The roof covering was older and would require replacement in just a few years, therefore the recommendation was to remove the covering at that time, with the contractor assessing the sheathing and making repairs as deemed appropriate.

Posted by

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

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Connie Goodrich
Keller Williams Realty - McKinney, TX
CRS ABR (McKinney Realtor)Texas

Impressive the knowledge one has in your industry.  Investigation and understanding telling signs is key for one that is a trusted huge part of our business.  Thank you for the nice post that I found very interesting!

Oct 10, 2015 12:07 AM #1
Larry Riggs
Century 21 Redwood - Frederick, MD
GRI, SRS Your Frederick County Specialist

Before I got my real estate license I was a contractor. In my early days I was a roofing contractor. I have literally stepped through roof sheathing in new construction because the builders used the cheapest product allowed by law. Later, when I got into other aspects of construction I made it a point to use quality roof sheathing so my customers would get a better finished product than I had worked on before.

Oct 10, 2015 12:33 AM #2
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

They obviously made minimal repairs with the cheapest plywood they could buy. That Uncle Bob guy sure gets around!

Oct 10, 2015 01:17 AM #3
Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

I bet you get to see all kinds of crazy stuff in your journeys.  Good catch.

Oct 10, 2015 05:39 AM #4
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

You didn't even see the stamp "Approved for use for your HO train set..."?

Or perhaps the ZAPPA stamp?  That's a grade or two below APA.  Or three.

Oct 10, 2015 06:41 AM #5
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Connie, The more I know, the more I realize there is so much that I don't know. That's why I love this job, it's always a learning experience. 

Larry, Around here code specifies structural panels.

Fred, This appeared to be by the "professionals" that put on the shingles.

Belinda, That would be an understatement :) 

Jay, Gotta love thos initials.

Oct 13, 2015 10:01 PM #6
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James Quarello

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