Everytime I think of structure I always imaging the commercial on TV for women, The one where all things with structure end up looking like bones, and basically recommending more Calcium. Well, our Bones are the foundation of all of us, and wee need to take care of it.
As a home inspector, the Structure is the biggest system we have to look at. It is the one that all other trades bore holes into, notch, and most likely damage. Here is a system that is made of three main units, Foundation, Framing, and roof.
The foundation now a days is mainly poured concrete on concrete footings, at least here in Canada, and I figure most of the Northern US. Furthure south I assume more crawlspace, and even slab-on-ground. But I my area the foundation is maybey 10% visible outside, and if the basement is not finishes, maybe 90% visible inside. Add to this I can never see any footings, usually 8 to 10 feet below grade. I now have to make an evaluation of this area, quite the risk, as all I really have to go by are clues, or lack of clues.
- Are there any water stains on foundation walls?
- Any visible cracks, and what kind of cracks.
- How is the slab floor?
- Is there any eflorensence on the walls.
- How is the concrete looking, any chips.
- Is the exterior Parged
- Are the walls bulging
- Has the integrity of the home been comprimised due to digging near then home.
From this I have to make a assement of the foundation the entire house sits on, Most of which I can't see.
On top of the foundation, is the wooden structure for the floor, and then the Walls, followed by the potential several other floors. In canada the exterior walls are built of 2x6, and any interior load bearing walls are also 2x6. most other walls are 2x4 construction. Floor joist are now engineered 2x10 or more, an and the sheathing is T&G plywood. Again, I have to look for clues to the effectivness of the framing. From the basement I can usually see the Floor structure and the sheathing for the first floor, but other floors are just a guesing game, yet usually the same. Walls can be viewed by removing a wall swirtch plate, or cold air return vents, but most of the framing is concealed. I look at the levelness of the wall and floors, and make an assessment.
Remember that that this is a visual inspection. I can not see all the holes the Electrician did to pass his wires. I also can't see the plumbers holes and notches for the supply and drain pipes and the Vent stack. Lastly, I can't see the Heating ducts, with thier holes for supply and cold air returns.
Well here I see most of it, except the ceiling joist or the roof truss section supporting the ceiling. But I can see the Trusses or roof rafters. I see the bottom side of the sheathing. I can amke a true assiement of the roof structure here. There is a little guess work on the ceiling, but you should be able to see water damage from lesk, usually clearly visible in the blown insulation.
I wish I have an X-Ray machine to put that house in. It would be nice to be able to see all components of the structure just like the bones in our bodies, but unfortunately, I need to win a US Powerball to even dream of that Idea. So in the mean time, I will rely on my training in structural components of the home, and continue to improve my skill of gues work, or should I say Educated Guess Work.
Bernard Loken, CAPM