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  1. #1
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    Default "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Called the building department this morning, only to find out that they had actually approved a three-story building full of these toe-nailed balconies:

    "Normally we would not approve it, but there is no easy way to attach those joists because that's not a 45° angle, and since we have already approved it, we can't go back and give it a second look".

    Maybe they will find it easier to give it a second look a few years from now, when it's right down at ground level.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    A couple of lag bolts though each joist would be better than just toe nailing. I can not believe the building inspector did not ask for engineering drawings on a deck like that and possible engineered hangers or brackets.

    Any off ground deck I built had to have either architectural and engineering drawings when I submitted the plans for approval.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Developer is the architect... and I'm sure that tomorrow morning he will be telling my clients "It's just fine, and the city approved it."

    I want to see the plans - I'll bet you dimes to dollars that those balconies are not built as approved by the plan examiner...

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 07-29-2008 at 08:15 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Sometimes with these builders, "Its easier to get permission for a little giveness."


  5. #5
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    Question Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    You act like that no balconies were built in the past 200 years with toe nailing and that only brackets are safe enough to support that decking. How long do you think that deck should last with proper maintance. I think that I would trust toe nailed joist longer than metal brackets that could rust out.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    "I think that I would trust toe nailed joist longer than metal brackets that could rust out."
    Right, because nails never rust.

    Have they never heard of a ledger board??


  7. #7
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Yhe DOB once again approved something that's questionable. Imagine my lack of surprise. 'Ask for drawings', Please. Since the insp don't have ladders or binoculars he wouldn't see enough to figure it out. PM me the neighborhood and I can probably tell you who did the insp. Looks like a wicker park type new constr.

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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Markus,

    This one is in North Evanston, around 750K per unit. I know who inspected it, it's the same person who told me that as it's been approved he does not want to revisit the issue.

    My concern here is not so much with structural integrity at the moment as with the possibility of major expenses just a few years down the road if (for example) that's ACQ treated lumber and some or all the fasteners are not intended for use in such material.

    Here in Illinois the courts are just recently reaffirmed (in the case of that big deck collapse in Chicago) that municipal inspectors have no personal or professional liability for their determinations.

    Interesting, the different perspective that creates.

    -------------------------

    A while back I had a very interesting conversation with Corey Friedman, and as a result I've been stressing to my clients that they're paying me for my opinion, and that that opinion may be different from that of electricians, plumbers and even municipal inspectors.

    This is an example of a case where that sort of preparation has paid off in terms of my clients being predisposed to understand why I'm reporting a concern that does not seem to be shared by the AHJ.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 07-30-2008 at 08:40 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Just what the he-- does a 45 or a non 45 deg angle have to do with anything. Who was it take coined the phrase "common sense is not all that common".


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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Michael said: A while back I had a very interesting conversation with Corey Friedman, and as a result I've been stressing to my clients that they're paying me for my opinion, and that that opinion may be different from that of electricians, plumbers and even municipal inspectors.
    I've also stressed that point loud and often by alluding to home inspectors as "house doctors" (general practitioner) in that they give a building a visual physical examination regarding its current health and refer their clients (buyers or sellers) to a specialist in any system and/or component that reveals a defect requiring an additional examination by such a qualified specialist in the system and/or component effected.. That's all we do, receive a fee for offering our opinion, which hopefully has been garnered through diligent study, experience and sound judgment similar to a qualified expert witness in a court of law.

    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    A while back I had a very interesting conversation with Corey Friedman, and as a result I've been stressing to my clients that they're paying me for my opinion, and that that opinion may be different from that of electricians, plumbers and even municipal inspectors.
    I think that most of us who have been around a while stress that a home inspector is only expressing their opinion, however, it is better stated as their "professional opinion".

    Having supporting documentation for your "professional opinion" simply makes that "opinion" more "professional" and allows that "professional opinion" to hold up in court better. That supporting documentation is typically the applicable codes and manufacturer's installation instructions.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    I know that most of you have heard this before, but I believe it bears repeating for the inspectors out there who have not.
    Whenever you get a phone call from an agent, client, or anyone challenging your opinion on any opinion expressed within your inspection report the best way to handle it is don’t argue, just quietly ask; “Did they put their opinion in writing, sign and date it like I did?” The silence is usually deafening and it’s almost unheard of that a challenger will do that. (talk is cheap)
    However, say let us they do put their opinion in writing, then your client now has two opinions because unless you are convinced you’re wrong stick to your guns, but if you think you have erred, admit it immediately, go light a candle and take your place in line for the rack. (I’ve got a few scars)

    Jerry McCarthy
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Fortunately, given the size of the balcony, it's not likely to be subject to large loads. Despite that, it certainly needs to be supported properly. And as stated earlier, the fasteners must be a type approved for copper quat treated wood. I find a lot that aren't in brand new construction. My other big question/concern would be how that cantilevered rim joist is supported AND how it's waterproofed where it enters the building. My guess is that more problems are likely from that issue -- assuming that the fasteners used for the floor joists themselves are of an approved metal.


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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Michael,

    Did you go out to that unsupported corner of the deck and bounce ... to see how much 'diving board' flex it had?

    Unless at least that right beam supporting the ends of the joists is cantilevered out from the interior framing, I can't see that thing staying level for long, even under its own weight.

    I know, I know, the builder will say they sloped it to that corner on purpose, to drain water, you know.

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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    And people always say "WE just had that balcony built before it collapsed."

    rick

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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    At least they used the finest Chain link Fence Post & Plumbing Pipe for Support.
    .

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    All that new wood installed on all that old rotted wood ... what were they thinking?

    WERE they even thinking?

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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    I'm going to be out there tomorrow morning re: a different issue, and will take a really close look at the balconies.


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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    I'm going to be out there tomorrow morning re: a different issue, and will take a really close look at the balconies.
    .
    No bouncing in the corners to check for the Diving Board Effect,( that's the builders job.)
    .

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    No bouncing in the corners to check for the Diving Board Effect,( that's the builders job.)
    .

    Michael to builder: Standing out there in the corner is like standing on a diving board bouncing up and down.

    Builder: No it isn't.

    Michael: Yeah it is. Have you tried it? Go out and see for yourself.

    Builder: (out at corner bouncing up and down a little) I don't feel anything unusual.

    Michael: Of course not, you are standing still. Jump up and down a little like people having a good time enjoying their deck.

    Builder: Okay, ... I still don't feel anythingggggggggggggg ... splat!

    Michael: (shouting down to builder) See? I told you. (notice there is nothing about 'you okay' or 'want me to call 911' )

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  21. #21
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    Question Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Cantilever a beam or two or a couple a pieces of steel from inside the frame for support. That looks dangerous. Or...set a post under it...


  22. #22
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Here is one from last week.

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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Michael, I'm surprised that you would hear that in E-town. I've pulled a lot of permits and had insp in E-town and they are usually pretty conscientious. Things like that always make me wonder if someone is hooked up. (maybe it's just being from the City that makes me think that way)
    Inspection observations/recommendations being at odds with the the builder/contractor says is an on-going never ending issue. Our job is to inform and protect the client. Their job is to make money. Assuming (I know) that component X is safe and code compliant an HI can stop at that point or assess the next question. 'Is the work just 'OK' or has it been done along 'best practice' standards?' The difference between the two is often the point of argument between HI and the Seller.
    We provide professional opinion and info. I have yet to have someone put their challenge in writing. They are essentially barking dogs.

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  24. #24
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    So. I'm back at this property again this morning, standing there with my client and and the developer and his broker:

    Developer: "That's Just Not Realistic (TM)." "Nobody would actually point it at the shower bench for half an hour..."

    Client: "I can tell you right now, my husband's tush is going to be on that bench for half hour every morning, I know him....."

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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Michael,

    But ... what about the balcony?

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  26. #26
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    That was happening master baths in both units, BWT.

    Oh, and Kurt Mittenbuler was there as well... getting told by the developer that he (the developer) would bet $50,000 that this tile guy had run the liner up over the bench. Those of you who know Kurt are invited to imagine how THAT played out..

    ------------

    Jerry,

    As for the balconies, no - I did NOT try to use them as a spring board!

    Did get up close and personal from a ladder, though... that's a ledger running from left to right in the first picture:

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  27. #27
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    All those pictures of nail heads are nice. Nice clean nail heads...and...

    I'm not an engineer and don't have to be (I've tried something similar to this kind of construction) and it failed...or was too subject to failing so I tore it down and started over. Those folks that built the balcony best put a post under that sucker or take a strong framing member and lever some strength under the floor.

    If I were you I would stand a 2 x 4 up beside the porch (set the 2 x 4 on something like a brick so you can place it back to the same place later), get a ladder and mark the level of the bottom of the balcony.

    Then put 3 or 4 folks on the outside edge of that balcony, stand your 2 x 4 back up and look at the mark on your 2 x 4. If you can't see the mark...the floor is failing/falling. I'd measure how much the floor dropped with the folks standing on it and make notes of the movement. (while your at it...don't go get skinny folks...best get you a few football players)...cause the parties are going to include those big guys too...




  28. #28
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Michael,

    This - if they are cantilevered, them may be strong enough to support the balconies as the floor joists bear on them.

    If not cantilevered, I can't imagine those balconies staying there very long.

    1831balconyR.jpg

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  29. #29
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    If I was the buyer someone would have to prove to me that the balcony is safe. If that could not be done to my satisfaction I would walk. Since none of the support system is visible you are at the mercy of the builder as to how it was installed.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    The last few posts raise critical points. Since it is new constr there should be stamped plans available to review. It's amazing the extent to which actual constr differs from stamped plans so often.
    I see the can with water running out of it, lovely. I don't understand the shower/sitting comment though. What am I missing?

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  31. #31
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    --I don't understand the shower/sitting comment though. What am I missing?
    .
    Was the shower pan liner properly installed for this application.

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  32. #32
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    Was the shower pan liner properly installed for this application.
    Billy,

    No.

    I can categorically state that as, if it had been installed correctly, ... it would not be leaking.

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  33. #33
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Markus,

    I always (if possible) direct the shower spray onto the junction of the seat with the shower wall they rarely run the liner up there. The result is often what you see in those pics - thought usually not as dramatic, and the point is that if I can make it rain downstairs that way with a steady, direct stream more "typical" use is likely introducing water as well - less water - but still enough to turn that end of the tub into mold laced oatmeal down the road..

    The developer was was telling the client that as the shower was "built to code" it was not his responsibility to build it any better - for example, well enough to not leak when tested according to my technique, and that he would not fix it as my test was unrealistic - no one would ever run the shower directly on the wall at the other end of the shower for any length of time.

    The client was pointing out that not only was his position patently absurd in theory, but that it was flat wrong in fact as well: that sitting there with the water running on him was *exactly* what her husband loved to do.

    ------------

    Typical of where were are at with this guy:

    "The subpanel in the garage is per code and as required by the city inspector. No correction will be made."

    I'm looking at a page of this stuff.

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  34. #34
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Markus,

    I always (if possible) direct the shower spray onto the junction of the seat with the shower wall they rarely run the liner up there. The result is often what you see in those pics - thought usually not as dramatic, and the point is that if I can make it rain downstairs that way with a steady, direct stream more "typical" use is likely introducing water as well - less water - but still enough to turn that end of the tub into mold laced oatmeal down the road..

    The developer was was telling the client that as the shower was "built to code" it was not his responsibility to build it any better - for example, well enough to not leak when tested according to my technique, and that he would not fix it as my test was unrealistic - no one would ever run the shower directly on the wall at the other end of the shower for any length of time.

    The client was pointing out that not only was his position patently absurd in theory, but that it was flat wrong in fact as well: that sitting there with the water running on him was *exactly* what her husband loved to do.

    ------------

    Typical of where were are at with this guy:

    "The subpanel in the garage is per code and as required by the city inspector. No correction will be made."

    I'm looking at a page of this stuff.
    A subpanel with a neutral bonded to the box?


  35. #35
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    I'm wondering how to heck they got a sub large enough to require a panel in the garage to start with ... ?????



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  36. #36
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I'm wondering how to heck they got a sub large enough to require a panel in the garage to start with ... ?????

    .
    Got to have Running Lights.

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  37. #37
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Now I understand. Yes I've had that same conversation a few times. The seat is a perfect failure location.
    One of the things I look for and tell the client about, if the seat is a tiled bench:
    1) Does the seat tile butt into the wall tile OR
    2) Does the seat tile extend to the wallboard and the wall tile butt down onto the seat tile
    3) is joint grouted or caulked?
    1 will fail very soon
    2 will probably not as long as caulk seam stays good

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  38. #38
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Okay, was back out at this property this morning, with the ceiling opened up.

    After a bit more testing everybody was convinced the problem is a severe leak at the pans of the two tiled showers in both third-floor bath master bathrooms.

    This leaves us with two other essentially identical additional tiled showers, one located above another floor, and one located on the slab (entire structure is on a slab, no foundation or crawl space).

    All all liners were installed, and pans poured, set the same crew. The GC says he inspected all liners before pour and they were fine.

    Per the developer we have 2 inches of foam and a poly vapor barrier under the slab.Parts of the slab are floored with bamboo, the developer doesn't remember the if the slab's moisture level was established before installing the flooring, or if there's a vapor barrier between the slab in the underside of the flooring.

    So... for starters, we've got two pans that need to be demolished and rebuilt .

    Likely the demolition will destroy any evidence as to the cause of their leaks, so we may not get any more information there.

    This leaves us with 1) one pan accessible from the underside which does not appear to be leaking, and 2) pan on the slab.

    Given that we have two similar and and severe pan failures out of three showers where we have access from below, how many people here would recommend:

    1a) Repair the two pans are leaking, and leave the others alone.

    2a) Open the ceiling under the third pan, run the water overnight, and see if there is any evidence of leakage.

    2b) Replace the third pan on general principles.

    3a) Run the pan at grade overnight, and IR its accessible perimeter for leaks.

    3b) Replace the pan at grade on general principles.

    4) Something else.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 08-01-2008 at 11:08 AM.
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  39. #39
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    Default Re: "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    If the mistakes had been made on the lower level pans I might consider 1a, thinking that by the time they got to the top they might have learned something.
    At this point I would advise my client 2a - 3b. If you advise any less they may end up pissed at you later if a leak develops 2 months after close.
    Shower pans get a lot of 'abuse'. +/- 200 lbs. stepping all over you for +/- 30 minutes at a time. Sometimes double that weight frolicking. Any pan built borderline could get pushed over the edge pretty easy.
    If they screwed up two pans there's no just cause to assume they did the other two right. It's a 50/50 gamble. Play it safe rather than sorry.

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