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Thread: Fire in attic

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Tyler, TX
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    719

    Default Fire in attic

    Once again, I climb into a painted attic and can also see blistering and alligatoring on the wood trusses. Can you say "fuego"?

    What do you all generally report as far as the condition of the remaining wood? I'm getting a headache typing, deleting, re-typing, etc...

    As usual, thanks in advance.

    Bruce

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    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Chicago, IL
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    Default Re: Fire in attic

    For starters I'd report what I'd seen, and also that it is possible that there is significant damage to other systems/components I cannot see, especially to the the electrical wiring, and recommend that unless the seller can document the extent of the damage and the nature of the repairs, that the buyers research the history of the property with the Fire Department and the AHJ.

    What I report as to the condition of the roof structure depends on what I an able to observe, but IMO in many cases the investigation of painted, fire damaged attics in sufficient detail to perform an adequate survey of their condition is beyond the practical time constraints of a HI.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 09-17-2010 at 08:10 PM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  3. #3
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    Tyler, TX
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    Default Re: Fire in attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    ... and recommend that unless the seller can document the extent of the damage and the nature of the repairs, that the buyers research the history of the property with the Fire Department and the AHJ.
    Hey I like that part. thanks

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  4. #4
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Fire in attic

    I always tell my client that they need to contact the local fire department for more information on the home, if I discover that it has had a fire. I would say that most of the time the client was never told about the fire and it is a total surprise to them.

    I also add that if the fire damage repairs most likely required a permit from the local AHJ. They should also research that aspect of it as well.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Fire in attic

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    I always tell my client that they need to contact the local fire department for more information on the home, if I discover that it has had a fire. I would say that most of the time the client was never told about the fire and it is a total surprise to them.

    I also add that if the fire damage repairs most likely required a permit from the local AHJ. They should also research that aspect of it as well.
    I should've given some background.

    1. Client and buyer's agent were told about a "small candle fire in the bedroom that smoked the place up pretty good"
    2. There is no AHJ b/c it is out in the county
    3. The local FD is volunteer (not knocking them, it just takes them a while to get there b/c they're usually at work
    Here's a photo of "smoked the place up pretty good"

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    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Fire in attic

    "Client and buyer's agent were told about a "small candle fire in the bedroom that smoked the place up pretty good..."

    Yeah. Sure. As in:

    "... smoked the place up pretty good.... and charred wood structural members in the attic".

    For starters, it the fire was on the first floor, and there is fire damage in the attic, the only way to assess the condition of the electrical system anywhere along the path of possibly elevated temperatures is to open walls and ceilings as required for physical inspection of the wiring. There is also possible hidden structural damage, damage to PVC or ABS plumbing, damage to vapor retarders in walls and ceilings, damage to ... well, you get the picture.

    If the sellers cannot document the damage done and the repairs performed, the buyers need to be told that if they wish to know what they are actually buying, all these areas will have to be opened and inspected.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 09-18-2010 at 11:42 AM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Fire in attic

    As Michael pointed out, heat like that can cause other problems than what you are seeing.

    I have seen fire damage similar to what is in the pictures and I have found melted NM cable insulation and damage to thermal windows. Yep, the windows! The thermal seal can not take much more than 350f-400f of heat before it becomes soft and eventually melts (one reason you will find more failed thermal seals on Western exposures).

    Even a VFD will have good records of a fire. The State Fire Marshal's office audits those records and this is what is also used to help set the local insurance ratings for the area.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  8. #8
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Fire in attic

    If they left damaged trusses with no engineers letter giving their stamp of approval, then it is damaged just like a broken or cut chord. No letter of approval, no oky-doky from me.
    Then you have all the hidden damage. What hidden damage they say? If they did not fix what you can see (charcoal trusses) then it is a given that there is other stuff they hid.
    Smoke damage is one thing, charred framing members is totally different.
    Get a CLUE report to see what the insurance claim was.
    Don't forget that insurance may not be available or very costly for property with prior claims. What about the water damage from the firemen?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Tyler, TX
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    Default Re: Fire in attic

    They didn't get a pass from me; I just needed some good verbage in the report.

    Scott, all new windows in the entire house. I figured the firemen broke them all.

    There was lots of water staining on the wood sub-structure when I crawled the foundation.

    I had sent a text to the buyer's agent asking about if she was told about the fire. I wondered if it had been disclosed. She sent back saying "yes she knew". Then she said that the listing agent told her small candle, mostly smoke.

    I broke the news to her that there was charring in the attic and they had covered it up.

    Fortunately, she's one of the few realtors that understands H.I. reports protect her

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Lake Barrington, IL
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    1,363

    Default Re: Fire in attic

    Bruce,
    I would write that there is significant charring........
    In my view, the framing has been compromised.
    A good contractor will make it as good as new.

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    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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