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  1. #1
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    Default Interesting floor system

    Inspected a 1883 farm house yesterday. The floor system consisted of small logs resting on a perimeter of logs with 1X boards used as flooring. The crawl was a horrible experience, but here is a photo that you might find interesting.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Interesting ... I had not seen a copper water pipe used as an intermediate support for a girder before ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Interesting ... I had not seen a copper water pipe used as an intermediate support for a girder before ...
    Do you mean "Beam"?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Do you mean "Beam"?
    Could even be a "Joist" ... not sure how you determined it to be a "beam", I just used "girder" because of its size.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Interesting ... I had not seen a copper water pipe used as an intermediate support for a girder before ...
    Look again everything's sitting on the PVC.

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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Glad that crawl was you and not me.
    Rick brings up an interesting point, what is the difference between a girder and a beam? I use the 2 terms interchangably but maybe shouldn't.
    In this case, it does appear to be a joist.

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  7. #7

    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Reminds me of a house we did last week... 1880s, lots of unpermitted renovations. Scary crawl space. And basement. And attic.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    These logs were used as floor joists. The flooring was installed right on top of them.
    The crawl was horrible. I had to crawl under a deck (low) just to get under the house. I could crawl, but at one point I needed to roll over, and couldn't until I moved backward a couple feet.

    The only saving grace was my client bailed on the house after I did the crawlspace, so I really didn't need to write a full report, or continue to inspect the entire house.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Wow! Those plumbers in the 1800's really knew how to sweat them pipes!!!

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Common construction for the period.
    Charring on log indicates fire in the past.
    I call the logs resting on grade at perimeter mud sills, sometimes placed on stone rubble, or directly on the earth. Prone to rot and crushing.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    No permits, no building code, no government oversight, no inspectors and it is still standing after 130 years; How could this be ?

    <:-)} 130 years and it hasn't injured or killed someone that we know of, impossible, how could the occupants have ever survived ?


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    The charring is likely from installing the copper pipes.
    While the house was still standing, it was far from OK. I felt I was going to fall thru the floor in many places, there was so much bounce. There was extensive termite and rot damage.
    Here are some more photos

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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    No permits, no building code, no government oversight, no inspectors and it is still standing after 130 years; How could this be ?

    <:-)} 130 years and it hasn't injured or killed someone that we know of, impossible, how could the occupants have ever survived ?
    Garry,

    From this and other posts you have made,, I take it that you do not consider anything to be a hazard unless you are pulling out the injured person during your inspection, and then it is only a minor issue - it only become a notable issue when you are dragging out the body or remains of a person ... otherwise, hey, no problem, no apparent failure to worry about ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    No permits, no building code, no government oversight, no inspectors and it is still standing after 130 years; How could this be ?
    Started with serious lumber and overbuilt it. Everything built to the 'bare minimum' 130 years ago has already fallen down.

    Egbert Jager
    Diamond Home Inspection
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Garry,

    From this and other posts you have made,, I take it that you do not consider anything to be a hazard unless you are pulling out the injured person during your inspection, and then it is only a minor issue - it only become a notable issue when you are dragging out the body or remains of a person ... otherwise, hey, no problem, no apparent failure to worry about ...
    As inspectors, these things must be reported, but I for one appreciate the position that this was not built to be a human hazzard and has evidently served well for a long time. Age takes it's toll on all structures; correctly built or not. It's more than a reach to construe Garry's post as no body, no problem.


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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Egbert wrote:

    Started with serious lumber and overbuilt it. Everything built to the 'bare minimum' 130 years ago has already fallen down.
    Surely you jest?


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    "but I for one appreciate the position that this was not built to be a human hazzard and has evidently served well for a long time."

    I'm not sure anyone goes out and tries to build a "human hazard". I think that in their mind they believe they are doing a fine job. However, there are probably a lot of "that will do", or "that's good enough" statements made during the construction.

    In reality, they are many times, in fact, building a "human hazard". They just don't know if.

    The served well for a long time comment is also very relative. This house had a slope of over 3" in the living room that was about 12' wide. The floor was so soft in places, I thought I was going to fall thru. The stairs going to the now finished 2nd floor was so narrow and steep they were dangerous.

    Make no mistake, this house was a POS, and has been in disrepair for a long, long time. 130 years ago the original house probably did serve the family well, for a while. They added on to the original house several times (likely the last addition was over 50 years ago), added a bathroom (original likely did not have a bathroom), and finished the 2nd floor (which wasn't designed for living space).

    Just because a structure is still standing does not mean it has served someone well, or "passed the test of time".


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Garry,

    From this and other posts you have made,, I take it that you do not consider anything to be a hazard unless you are pulling out the injured person during your inspection, and then it is only a minor issue - it only become a notable issue when you are dragging out the body or remains of a person ... otherwise, hey, no problem, no apparent failure to worry about ...
    Jerry, Sorry that you didn't get it. Garry B. basically did get it. The post was a little tong in cheek and maybe a little sarcastic. By adding the "smiles I hoped you would have seen it rather than travel off on a unintended tangent. Though I do realize it is a mater of how you read it and the context you put it in ergo the "smiles" to help.

    As for the concept of hazardous. As in life. Philosophically and pragmatically, it is the shades of gray that we live with. To often the knee jerk reaction is to jump to the death scenario of a potential situation. We live with hazards as we go through the aspects of daily life. Many in the Inspection Industry do not climb ladders due to their perception of it hazardous nature. When in lfact it is how you climb a ladder that will mitigate its hazards.


    I often will throw a comment into a discussion with others that I know they will take wrong in this so PC world that we seem to live in. But it is intended to show or promote the person or group to think about how they perceive thing. Saying that I am prejudice will put a startled look on many a face. And in fact there are foods that I am prejudice, by definition, against. Also there are times I can be prejudiced in the favor of something before I have given it reasonable thought as to why I favor it. So, often a comment is offered as to generate some thought on a topic.

    So many look at what they see as non conforming construction as defective or deficient. Since they have been taught that you are to genuflect before the Book of Code. Many really do not understand building construction from lack of experience and education. Furthermore, there is a group that think old is bad by just being old. Understanding old methodology and logic is beyond their understand and is considered bad. How many have no grasp of Post and Beam construction, mortice and tenon, scarf and lapping joints and so on. How many times has an accepted/developed code of construction been proven a practical failure and then requiring the code to be altered. Thinking old is bad and new is good is inherently a false proposition.

    "...notable issue when you are dragging out the body..." is notable but not a guaranteed conclusion for every situation. Though there are times that a condition exists that the immediate result will result in injury or death. And that I "...do not consider anything to be a hazard unless you are pulling out the injured person during your inspection,..." is not correct. It is again a scaling of consequences.

    I acknowledged my view of many thing is as a direct result of pushing things to the edge to see where failure will occur. I have had the opportunity to experience many things that had high elements of risk. Sailing, skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, high construction and so on. Thus my scale of risk constitutes a longer gradient with smaller increments of inclination. And yes I have been injured many times over the years pushing the limit to the edge and on occasion going over it. I have learned it is about respect of the outcome and not fear that should govern our actions.


    Long and possibly a little personal response/post. But it is due to the high reguard that I have for Jerry and others in this forum.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    The only saving grace was my client bailed on the house after I did the crawlspace, so I really didn't need to write a full report, or continue to inspect the entire house.
    Did you write half of a report, get half of a fee and just "exclude" everything not inspected in the opening comments?

    Past clients have suggested that they're out of the deal on site and then later I find out that somehow they and their agent "found a way" to "get everything fixed" and the deal is underway. The situation going forward begs for a full report if/when all those miracle fixes don't stand the test of time.

    It seems like if we've come as far as scheduling and have all made it out to the house for half an inspection it's worth following through on the rest of it for just-in-case scenarios.

    Surely a case by case judgement call but a full inspection with a full report always helps me sleep better.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Quote Originally Posted by Egbert Jager View Post
    Started with serious lumber and overbuilt it. Everything built to the 'bare minimum' 130 years ago has already fallen down.
    When I bought my house it was 130 years old and was in the process of failing. While I can't say exactly when it was going to happen, all signs indicated the top of the house was making steady progress towards joining the foundation on the ground.

    By today's standards, my house was built to less than the bare minimum. As a result, the first floor girder had deflected approximately 6 inches in the center. Plaster walls were cracked and had been patched over several times. The plaster ceiling had already been replaced with gypsum board, which itself was cracked in places. The walls were so racked I had to knock the studs over 4 inches on the sill plates to make them plumb again. I installed beams next to the first floor girder so it only carried the second and attic floor girders. I cut the span of the 2x5 joists in the basement with additional beams. I'm now preparing to sister the second floor girder with LVL on each side to add additional support.

    Wood structures often take time to fail. While metal and masonry fail suddenly and catastrophically, wood will often slowly deform, providing plenty of signs of ongoing failure. For this house, it has "stood" the test of time and got a D-minus. It stands today only by virtue of radical intervention in its progress towards failure. I would never make any assumptions about the condition of a house based on its age. Instead, I'd make note of the things you can see: a deflected beam here, a sloping floor there, a girder that's undersized for the load.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    I seldom post, but I feel compelled to respond to this discussion.

    I live in Pennsylvania, have been in the construction, development, and redevelopment business since the '60's. We've rehabbed much 19th century and older construction that was built from timbering and sawmill materials. While technically it was not "flawed" when it was built, much of it has succomed to time and the elements by the present day.

    I always felt that, when I was inspecting these type of buildings, that it was incumbent on me to point out these failings to potential owners, and recommend that they counsel with a contractor that is familiar with that type of construction, or a structural engineer that understand earlier types of building techniques and how to repair and update them.

    As a preservationist, I have always looked to find the good ones and restore them. Of course, some of this stuff was crap when it was built, and never will be anything else. The service to the buyer comes from knowing the difference. That comes from experience and an appreciation and understanding of the history and methods of construction techniques as they have evolved. A knowledge of 20th century eastern platform construction and a code book are not sufficient to evaluate older buildings.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Just because a structure is still standing does not mean it has served someone well, or "passed the test of time".


    ............or had the neighbors over for a party on the deck.

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Interesting floor system

    Did you write half of a report, get half of a fee and just "exclude" everything not inspected in the opening comments?
    Luc...I did not write half a report, and I was paid the full fee.
    I did not go into the attic because the access was secured with about 15 screws. I probably would have, but he stopped the inspection after the crawlspace. My report states what was not inspected, and the reason it was not inspected (as required by SOP).

    A little background...my client had concerns about the house. He had a contractor friend come out to look at the house to get an idea of what it would cost to replace the old metal roof. Because the floor was in such bad/questionable shape, they tried to get under to take a look. They were able to get to the opening, but because it was so small, they didn't want to venture in. The contractor friend suggested he get a professional (ME!) to look at it. I think he was really only interested in me getting under the house.

    I did the exterior, and electrical, then started on the inside and found LOTS of issues. I finally got to the crawl, and when I got out, I had confirmed his fears, and he was done.

    I wrote my normal report, and documented all the things that I didn't get to. For instance, there was a gas pak unit there, but no propane tank, so I was unable to test the heat. The thermostat was smashed and the breaker for the a/c had melted wires, so I couldn't test the a/c either.

    While I didn't do a full inspection, I was still on site over 2 hours, and went home to write the report. The house was a little over 1000 SF.


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