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Rick Souter
03-25-2008, 02:26 PM
Hey there,
I often have difficulty with reporting language concerning walls that are out of plumb and floors which are off level. I'm not talking about marginal variations as we find in many structures, but those of a more significant nature. Any advice on variances and how they should be reported? Thanks for your consideration.

John Arnold
03-25-2008, 03:44 PM
Rick - As a generalist home inspector I try to avoid going into excruciating detail and measurement. I use descriptive relative terms like moderate or severe to refer to sloping and/or sagging floors, for instance. I might throw in a measurement, like "as much as 2 inches over four feet" or something like that and then pass the mess off to a professional engineer, qualified contractor, yada yada.
Recently I remember adding that it appeared likely that the existing flooring would have to be torn up to determine the exact cause and effect repairs.
In other words, a general description of where and how bad, trying to get across the relative severity of the situation, without doing an impersonation of an engineer.

David Banks
03-25-2008, 04:24 PM
John gives good advice. If it is severe do not get caught up with the Realtor speak of "it is the charm of an older house"

John Arnold
03-25-2008, 06:37 PM
...If it is severe do not get caught up with the Realtor speak of "it is the charm of an older house"

I inspected a very old place in Philadelphia where the kitchen floor was so sloped, the portable dishwasher (the kind you roll over to the sink and snap the hose onto the faucet) got away from me and rolled into the middle of the room. The buyer, not the Realtor, made the charm comment.

Jerry Peck
03-25-2008, 06:45 PM
... where the ... floor was so sloped, ...

(oh-oh, here we go ... )

" ... the ... floor was so sloped ... "

... that I asked my client if they had any gum to chew to keep theirs ears from popping due to the elevation change ...

:D

Rick Souter
03-25-2008, 06:59 PM
Hey there, and thanks John and David.

I seem to do a fair bit of dancing around this issue with my reporting and I suppose what I was really trying to define is how much lean is acceptable, how much floor slope is acceptable before you call in the big guns (engineer and/or contractor).
I saw some posts from Mar /07 regarding the subject and some numbers from the National Association of Home Builders Performance Guidelines were put forward where acceptable wall lean was described;

Originally Posted by John Arnold http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_inspection/images/ca_evo/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_inspection/building-interior-home-inspection-commercial-inspection/2018-acceptable-tolerance-wall-out-plumb-post11173.html#post11173)
Bruce - I found this by searching the archives where there is a wealth of info:

"From the National Association of Home Builders Performance Guidelines:

Basement Walls - Concrete block or poured concrete
Walls shall not be out of plumb greater than 1 1/2 inches in 8 feet when measured from the base to the top of the wall.

Structural - Wood frame wall is out of plumb
Wood framed walls shall not be more than 3/8 inch out of plumb for every 32 inches in any vertical measurement.

Structural - The wall is bowed
All interior and exterior walls have slight variances in their finished surfaces. Walls shall not bow more than 1/2 inch out of line within 32 inch horizontal measurement or 1/2 inch within any 8 foot vertical measurement.



With the above criteria in mind, say I have just determined that a particular wall is out of plumb, say 1 inch in its 8 ft. My question is, do you report that it is marginal, or do you say that if it was 1/16 of an inch more out of plumb you'd be recommending an Engineer or a contractor be summoned?

Floor slope hasn't even been discussed, but I thought 1 inch in 20 ft was the maximum inclination acceptable. After 1 inch, how should it be reported?

Some may view the question as fine line sort of stuff, but I'm looking for some clarity here and I look forward to any comments.

Thanks,
Rick Souter

David Banks
03-25-2008, 07:49 PM
A lot of this comes with experience. If it is a first floor look carefully in the basement for the mortise and tenon pulling apart on joist etc. Look for sagging or broken girders. Lack of support columns or settled columns.
Take a look at the base board on first and second floors. Is there a gap under the baseboard? Sometimes people will hide this gap with a molding.
None of this is charming! Report it as it is. Call for SE or Licensed Contractor that works with SE.

Rick Souter
03-26-2008, 02:06 PM
Thanks David,
Yes, experience I'm sure will lessen my report writing angst about the subject, and I appreciates your suggestions.
Movement I witness is mostly due to minor settlement issues, and sometimes the cause is not discern-able.
To get back to the question, I try not to get too anal about measurements, but when I do see a variance close to the prescribed limitation, lets say just less than the 1 1/8" in an 8 ft wall (National Association of Home Builders Performance Guidelines), and I can't see any other corresponding movement elsewhere in the structure, how do you report it. There is a difference in reporting a 1/2 inch variance versus a 1 1/8" variance over that height, no?
Also, regarding the following quote from last summer;

http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_inspection/images/ca_evo/statusicon/post_old.gif 07-08-2007, 08:06 AM
http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_inspection/avatars/michael-thomas.gif?dateline=1176088093 (http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_inspection/members/michael-thomas.html) Michael Thomas (http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_inspection/members/michael-thomas.html) http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_inspection/images/ca_evo/statusicon/user_offline.gif vbmenu_register("postmenu_11174", true);
Member
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 801


Re: Acceptable Tolerance of Wall Out of Plumb ?
"Could just be "just" an out of plumb interior wall, or could be this:

Framers go home. Something shifts. No one checks for plumb before the sheeting goes on the next day. Entire structure is out of plum on two opposite sides.

No one notices until they start to build out the interior - only by this point the roof is on, windows, and exterior doors installed, siding is on, etc... so the crew doing the interior attempts to shim things right."

You can't report it as described above (a result of sloppy framing/premature interior finishing) because you don't know. Is it likely? Well it could be. But does the issue appear to be significant....when you don't think it is?

Am I just a bad smell? If I just need to take a pill and go to bed.....tell me!:)
Thanks
Rick Souter

David Banks
03-26-2008, 03:57 PM
Hey there,
I often have difficulty with reporting language concerning walls that are out of plumb and floors which are off level. I'm not talking about marginal variations as we find in many structures, but those of a more significant nature. Any advice on variances and how they should be reported? Thanks for your consideration.

I really do not know much more to tell you but If you think it is not marginal and significant I would Call for SE or Licensed Contractor that works with SE.
Take a look at the big picture also. Do you see it effecting other parts of the structure as Michael said. Even if it is "Marginal" you should include in your report floor/wall out of level/slopes. Wall out of plumb.
You could use something like this that I got from Jerry Peck for foundations.
" There were visible signs of foundation movement. Movement of foundation at some point in time in the past has occurred" Just substitute the word foundation with wall/floor.
Anyone else help this poor fellow :)