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  1. #1
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    Default Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    As I begin to use a reporting template, I ponder what items are written in the section related to the Foundation, and what items are written in the section entitled Basement?

    This is a question in logic, right? If a foundation is structural, what is a basement? Do you just choose the word you wish to use and put all you notes and significant deficiencies under that word? Is the foundation the outer structure, and the basement the stuff inside the foundation?

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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Foundation
    - The type of support which supports the structure:
    - - monolithic concrete slab on grade
    - - footing and stem wall (often called inverted T footing and stem wall) - (with slab on fill) - (with elevated floor system)
    - - pilings and grade beams
    - - pilings (stilts)
    - - permanent wood foundation
    - - (etc - examples of foundations - there are many others)

    Basement
    - - The area within the foundation walls which is below grade.

    Crawlspace
    - - the area within the foundation walls which is at or above grade.

    The above are descriptive, not actual definitions.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Try looking at it this way. You might say , the hot water heater located in the basement. You would not say the hot water heater located in the foundation. Basement is like bedroom, kitchen or bathroom; a defined area.

    Now unlike sub panels, as opposed to Sub's panels, there are sub basements. But there are no basements in Subs.


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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    In my report, I have the basement under the foundation section. I report pretty much by system but I also report by some rooms (Bathroom, Kitchen, Laundry,). I have the Attic section under my Roof section in my report.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    I have a separate section for each. There is enough potentially wrong or to address with each around here.
    In your area I would suggest a separate section. The foundation section would address any cracks, seep signs, whether this wall or that is exposed or covered with batts and that white plastic sheathing the developers like to use out in your area to cover the batts, etc.
    Basement section would deal with condition of the finished and unfinished component areas
    Completely forgot to call you about yesterday, was out your way, sorry.

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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Some definitions from the IRC that home inspectors should know, recognize, and use:

    - ATTIC. The unfinished space between the ceiling assembly of the top story and the roof assembly.

    - ATTIC, HABITABLE. A finished or unfinished area, not considered a story, complying with all of the following requirements:
    - - 1. The occupiable floor area is at least 70 square feet (17 m2), in accordance with Section R304,
    - - 2. The occupiable floor area has a ceiling height in accordance with Section R305, and
    - - 3. The occupiable space is enclosed by the roof assembly above, knee walls (if applicable) on the sides and the floor-ceiling assembly below.

    - BASEMENT. A story that is not a story above grade plane. (see "Story above grade plane").

    - BASEMENT WALL. The opaque portion of a wall that encloses one side of a basement and has an average below grade wall area that is 50 percent or more of the total opaque and non-opaque area of that enclosing side.

    - BUILDING. Building shall mean any one- and two-family dwelling or portion thereof, including townhouses, that is used, or designed or intended to be used for human habitation, for living, sleeping, cooking or eating purposes, or any combination thereof, and shall include accessory structures thereto.

    - GRADE. The finished ground level adjoining the building at all exterior walls.

    - ROOF ASSEMBLY. A system designed to provide weather protection and resistance to design loads. The system consists of a roof covering and roof deck or a single component serving as both the roof covering and the roof deck. A roof assembly includes the roof deck, vapor retarder, substrate or thermal barrier, insulation, vapor retarder, and roof covering.

    - ROOF COVERING. The covering applied to the roof deck for weather resistance, fire classification or appearance.

    - ROOF COVERING SYSTEM. See "Roof assembly."

    - ROOF DECK. The flat or sloped surface not including its supporting members or vertical supports.

    - STORY. That portion of a building included between the upper surface of a floor and the upper surface of the floor or roof next above.

    - STORY ABOVE GRADE PLANE. Any story having its finished floor surface entirely above grade plane, or in which the finished surface of the floor next above is:
    - - 1. More than 6 feet (1829 mm) above grade plane; or
    - - 2. More than 12 feet (3658 mm) above the finished ground level at any point.

    - STRUCTURE. That which is built or constructed.
    - - (note: "structure" versus a "building")

    Home inspectors are inspecting houses, houses which are constructed to code ... okay ... which SHOULD BE ... constructed to code (but rarely are, which is what keeps home inspectors in business) ... and the code definitions should be interchangeable with contractors and home inspectors for home inspectors to be recognized as knowing what they are talking about.

    There are more definitions which would be good for home inspectors to know ("court" versus "yard", and others), but home inspectors should be able to recognize, use, and apply the above terms in a manner consistent with the code's uses and applications.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ...home inspectors should be able to recognize, use, and apply the above terms in a manner consistent with the code's uses and applications.
    Jerry, Many thanks to you and everyone else who contributed to this discussion. And you seem to have read my mind about why I asked this question. I want my reports to be professional and consistent with how others in this industry describe things. I could not find a source for these definitions.

    As I tailor the reporting software to reflect my own style, I will place the relevant items into their proper place.


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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Now unlike sub panels, as opposed to Sub's panels, there are sub
    basements. But there are no basements in Subs.
    Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by John C Hansen, LEED AP View Post
    Jerry, Many thanks to you and everyone else who contributed to this discussion. And you seem to have read my mind about why I asked this question. I want my reports to be professional and consistent with how others in this industry describe things. I could not find a source for these definitions.

    As I tailor the reporting software to reflect my own style, I will place the relevant items into their proper place.
    Along with technical definitions, those typically used by various codes or dictionary descriptions, you might also consider terminology commonly used in the area in which you do business. E.g. - if I were to use the description 'stoop' or even 'veranda' relatively common descriptions for a porch in many areas, few here would know what I was referring to.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 03-14-2016 at 01:45 AM.

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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Jerry, and others that wish to chime in, the reason I chose post #1 is that do you not consider the foundation as part of the structure as well as stem walls, piers?

    The reporting software I utilize, Horizon, includes foundation, and all support elements under structure.

    Looking forward to replies.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    ......
    Now unlike sub panels, as opposed to Sub's panels, there are sub basements. But there are no basements in Subs.
    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!

    Then again you could have a Sub in a building it's basement or even a sub basement, which would mean that there would be a Sub panel in the building in addition to the other electrical panels.------ riding on the wake of the Sub thread.


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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Along with technical definitions, those typically used by various codes or dictionary descriptions, you might also consider terminology commonly used in the area in which you do business. E.g. - if I were to use the description 'stoop' or even 'veranda' relatively common descriptions for a porch in many areas, few here would know what I was referring to.
    How about Town House vs Row House. It is more than just a economic stratification difference in pure terminology.


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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Jerry, and others that wish to chime in, the reason I chose post #1 is that do you not consider the foundation as part of the structure as well as stem walls, piers?

    The reporting software I utilize, Horizon, includes foundation, and all support elements under structure.

    Looking forward to replies.
    Ok, I am confused with your question/perspective.
    (from Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.) )
    "Structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system, or the object or system so organized."

    Yes, all of the foundation (all types) and everything else making up the construction of walls, floors to and including the roof are part of the structural components. Within the structure are defined areas with names/terms/descriptions such as bedroom, basement and kitchen. The structure has terms referring to parts of its physical design such as walls, joist and trusses. The HVAC and Electrical are systems contained in the structure but are not structural. Just because your reporting system uses terms to define items as a sub category it does not necessarily make it part of terms definition. A structure has a basement (descriptive area/location) but a basement is not a structure though it has structure to create it.

    Horizon is something of a drill down system for classifications/descriptions in the report.
    (from Horizon website within an example report )::::"STRUCTURE

    Descriptions
    Configuration :Basement Slab-on-grade
    Foundation material: : Poured concrete
    Exterior wall construction: Wood frame
    Roof and ceiling framing: Trusses "







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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by John C Hansen, LEED AP View Post
    Jerry, Many thanks to you and everyone else who contributed to this discussion. And you seem to have read my mind about why I asked this question. I want my reports to be professional and consistent with how others in this industry describe things. I could not find a source for these definitions.

    As I tailor the reporting software to reflect my own style, I will place the relevant items into their proper place.
    Did you really look?????

    Here is 30 second search for links to your OP (original post):
    Foundations | Types of Foundations in Building Construction | Concrete Foundations - Understand Building Construction
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founda...engineering%29
    Structure | Definition of Structure by Merriam-Webster
    Basement | Definition of Basement by Merriam-Webster
    Foundation | Definition of Foundation by Merriam-Webster


    Here are links to use to find definitions and terms used:

    http://www.homebuildingmanual.com/Glossary.htm
    http://www.beaufortonline.com/buildi...ms-dictionary/
    http://www.builderspace.com/glossary
    http://paladinriskmanagement.com/6_may_09_g000041.pdf




    Research technique and speed is a learning by doing process, a lot of trial and error/failure.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Along with technical definitions, those typically used by various codes or dictionary descriptions, you might also consider terminology commonly used in the area in which you do business. E.g. - if I were to use the description 'stoop' or even 'veranda' relatively common descriptions for a porch in many areas, few here would know what I was referring to.
    There are colloquial terms in all areas which are not recognized or understood outside their use areas, however, when it comes to buildings and structures, and those who build/construct those building and structures and those who inspect those buildings and structures - if one does not understand the term used, and the term used is in 'the building code' ... simply point to that definition should any conflict arise. And, yes, that means that real estate people (who have a habit of trying to make something sound like what it is not because 'it sells better') should not be the source of definitions for home inspectors - the code should be.

    Here is an example, and one of the reason I posted those definitions: Let's say an inspector is inspecting a building which is two-story and the inspector writes up items in the first story ... which turns out to actually be a 'basement' - which is discovered upon the sale by the inspector's client ... who know wants to know why the inspector did not write up the fact that the house was a one-story house with a finished basement (which is worth much less) ... there is some major liability there.

    Or, say the inspector is writes up a two-story house as a one-story house with a finished basement (which is worth much less) ... only to find out that the 'finished basement' is actually a 'story' (review the definitions, it is not inconceivable that one could make that error) - that inspector's knowledge on everything else will be brought into question ... 'that inspector does not even know what a story is' will ring loud and clear and be talked about for a long time ... and there is not only some liability there, but a business reputation may be at stake too.

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Jerry, and others that wish to chime in, the reason I chose post #1 is that do you not consider the foundation as part of the structure as well as stem walls, piers?

    The reporting software I utilize, Horizon, includes foundation, and all support elements under structure.
    A foundation is what supports the structure/building above. Basically, going up, there is the foundation which all is built upon, then the floor, the walls, the ceiling/roof structure, then the roof (and however intermediate floors/stories there may be).

    There are many types of foundations, but all are foundations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Then again you could have a Sub in a building it's basement or even a sub basement, which would mean that there would be a Sub panel in the building in addition to the other electrical panels.------ riding on the wake of the Sub thread.
    No sub basements ... just two stories below grade ... thus no sub panels either. ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    How about Town House vs Row House. It is more than just a economic stratification difference in pure terminology.
    A row house (I saw many in Baltimore, everywhere we drove there were row houses lining the streets, I even explained what they were to my granddaughter - who said 'I wouldn't want to live in a row house, you are right on the street and there is no yard') is nothing more than a townhouse (a rose by any other name ... okay ... bad analogy as I would not consider a row house as a rose ... ).

    The key question becomes: are they 'one structure' or 'separate structures'?
    - If 'one structure' and they are all on 'the same lot', then they are not row houses or townhouses, they are still only 'spaces within a single building', aka apartments and condos - and fall under the "Building Code" (I have inspected some like that).
    - If 'separate structures' and each is on 'its own lot', then they are row houses/town houses - and fall under the "Residential Code" (the 'typical' townhouse/row house).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Jerry,
    Since you have (visual inspection) experienced Baltimore row housing I was making a lead up post about row homes and town houses and making a connection back to Ian and stoops.

    Baltimore Row House: multiple (3 to 50) homes sharing 2 common exterior walls. Duplex : 2 houses with 1 common wall.

    In Baltimore there were those who could afford a house in town and one in the country. Some would have the family in town during the cold months and send the family to the country house in the summer, city with no trees gets hot and hold the heat. Others would have their main house outside of the city and keep a house in town for their work week and commute to the country for the weekends. The work day was 12 hrs and typically week 6 days add to that 1 hr to walk to work. Transportation was also a factor for time and cost. So speaks to the part of the town house name. The original term of Town House was not one directed specifically at Row Houses. Just directed at location and at some point morphed to being exclusively row homes.

    The advent of row houses in Baltimore was a mater of economics of building and land resources. There are houses that are 12 feet wide and 30 to 50 feet deep and ranging from 2 to 4 stories though typically maxing out at 3 stories. The renaming of Row Houses to Town Houses came sometime in the 70s I think and it was just marketing by the Real Estate industry. Made it sound upscale. The amount of front yard was not a factor other than as newer homes were built they were built with some green out front.

    One oddity of Baltimore was the creation of Ground Rent. House was built on effectively rented ground (a little like a second mortgage). One person owned the house and someone else owned the ground under it.

    Regretfully most of your time may have been spent downtown which has the good, the bad and the ugly for housing.

    Much of Baltimore has only sidewalk with steps (a lot of marble) that go right to the entrance door. No porch just steps or sometimes a top landing at the door. This step arrangement I know at a "stoop". For generations people would sit out on their "stoop" and socialize with the neighbors. People still do it but it is not like the pre 60s. "Veranda" in Baltimore is more like a small porch.


    Edited: PS.: Ground Rent in the US started in the 1700s as a carry over from the 1300s in Europe/England. Greatest number are in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Resurgence in the 1940s.

    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 03-14-2016 at 06:01 PM. Reason: When use of ground rent started in US.

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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    ".......There are colloquial terms in all areas which are not recognized or understood outside their use areas, however, when it comes to buildings and structures, and those who build/construct those building and structures and those who inspect those buildings and structures - if one does not understand the term used, and the term used is in 'the building code' ... simply point to that definition should any conflict arise. And, yes, that means that real estate people (who have a habit of trying to make something sound like what it is not because 'it sells better') should not be the source of definitions for home inspectors - the code should be....."

    All of which is true but Home Inspectors, in general, do not write techinal reports for clients. The report is for the benefit of the client and every effort should be made to accomplish full understanding of it - even if that means, on occasion, using commonly known or used words to aid in description. Or, conversely, not using them if it could lead to misinterpretation.

    The o.p. is building a template for future reports and the suggestion is just something to ponder over.



  18. #18
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    All of which is true but Home Inspectors, in general, do not write techinal reports for clients. The report is for the benefit of the client and every effort should be made to accomplish full understanding of it - even if that means, on occasion, using commonly known or used words to aid in description. Or, conversely, not using them if it could lead to misinterpretation.

    The o.p. is building a template for future reports and the suggestion is just something to ponder over.
    Which is why I mentioned contractors (builders and developers, even national ones, are 'contractors', as are plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc.) - your reports are written for the entire scope of people who will be reading your reports: clients, real estate agents, sellers, and ... contractors.

    It is those contractors who say 'your home inspector should have ... ' to make you look bad, using correct terminology which can be backed up by the codes those same contractors should be following make you look good, and (in a dispute) can make the contractor look bad.

    That is something to consider, especially when creating a new reporting system for a new inspector ... and which is just as important for seasoned inspectors (and, no, don't ask what type of 'seasoning' I use ... ).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    One oddity of Baltimore was the creation of Ground Rent. House was built on effectively rented ground (a little like a second mortgage). One person owned the house and someone else owned the ground under it.
    That was not only done in Baltimore, but other places as well - not sure when or where it started.

    I know of some apartment complexes built in the 1970s and 1980s in Gainesville, FL, where the land is owned by one person (such as the electrical contractor I worked for in the cases I know of) and the developer (a friend of his) would lease the land for 99 years plus one year (there was a legal reason the lease was not for 100 years, but I have forgotten exactly what it was, other than it had something to do with avoiding an unintended transfer of ownership of the land to the 100 year lessee).

    I suspect those land leases were long term like that too? One would not want a land lease to be shorter than the 30 year mortgage, and the next buyer would want the land lease extended for their mortgage duration, and the next buyer, et al.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, real estate people also like the term 'patio home', which in reality was nothing more than a one story townhouse (they referred to the two-story ones as 'townhouses' - for marketing reasons).

    When only two were built side-by-side, they were 'duplexes' and 'duplexes' had a bad connotation, so they would built three side-by-side-by-side and they become townhouses or patio homes.

    Then there were the 'quads' where they took a square building and cut it through the middle in each direction - each unit had two sides but only one side had egress from it ... that didn't last very long. Then next design was a '+' shape where they split the building down the center of each leg, giving two sides facing each other with a fenced in courtyard area between the two separate egress areas (but the egresses both face the same courtyard ... try to get out of there in a fire!).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    A foundation is what supports the structure/building above. Basically, going up, there is the foundation which all is built upon, then the floor, the walls, the ceiling/roof structure, then the roof (and however, intermediate floors/stories there may be).
    Not to split hairs but, I always thought the footing supports the foundation, piers, stem walls and the overall structure or anything building vertically up or horizontally cantilevered.

    One can say, loads span the foundation. When the footing is compromised the first signs are transmitted through the foundation walls.
    The foundation is part of the structure, as in a structural masonry building only the concrete represent masonry. The footing supports the foundation which supports the outer and inner wall assemblies and all structural components that reside with the building.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    In my reporting library, I have basement and crawlspace in the same section, and slab homes on another. I call out if its a crawlspace home, a basement home, or a combination crawlspace and basement home. I describe all the components involved.

    Jerry made the comment about a potential liability re an inspector calling out floors, etc. IMHO the inspector would not likely have much liability, since all the real estate documents would have already listed the house as whatever it happened to be. Personally, I have never classified a house as "one story with basement, or two story with basement". I describe the foundation type, and I inspect and report on stairs that may be there. I rely on the buyer of the house to remember if its one story or two (or three).


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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Foundation:
    Substructure. below ground.
    1: the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level.
    2: the natural or prepared ground or base on which some structure rests
    3: an underlying base or support; especially: the whole masonry substructure of a building

    ICS concrete forms.
    The entire unit is concrete.
    So is the ICS that is below grade, or partially, called the foundation and not considered structure or substructure of the structure?

    Sorry for the edit: BUTE Department of Construction Management and Technology. 02.10.2012. ▪ Definition 1: Foundation:The structure, that. transmits the load of the building to the soil. ▪ Definition 2: Load bearing soil (strata):The soil.Oct 2, 2012



    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 03-14-2016 at 03:35 PM.
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Not to split hairs but, I always thought the footing supports the foundation, piers, stem walls and the overall structure or anything building vertically up or horizontally cantilevered.

    One can say, loads span the foundation. When the footing is compromised the first signs are transmitted through the foundation walls.
    The foundation is part of the structure, as in a structural masonry building only the concrete represent masonry. The footing supports the foundation which supports the outer and inner wall assemblies and all structural components that reside with the building.
    The footing is part of the foundation, quite possibly the most important part of the foundation as that is what the rest of the building is built on (i.e., built on its "foundation", which is supported by the "footing").

    The stem walls are also part of the foundation. Piers on footings is the same - the footing provides a stable base of support for the pier, if only one of those parts is 'the foundation' the the footing would be 'the foundation'.

    Pilings and grade beams are different, the pilings are equivalent to a 'footing' in purpose and use, with the grade beams interconnecting the pilings and also transferring loads to the pilings.

    Pilings (like in a stilt structure) is the foundation and footing all in one, the girders, beams, and band beams which wrap the pilings into one piece for supporting the structure are like grade beams except that they are ... well ... not at grade, they are up in the air.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Jerry made the comment about a potential liability re an inspector calling out floors, etc. IMHO the inspector would not likely have much liability, since all the real estate documents would have already listed the house as whatever it happened to be. Personally, I have never classified a house as "one story with basement, or two story with basement". I describe the foundation type, and I inspect and report on stairs that may be there. I rely on the buyer of the house to remember if its one story or two (or three).
    Jack,

    You don't ask if it is a one story or two story to know what ladder(s) to bring? Most home inspectors do ask how many stories.

    If you are told it is a two story house and you go out there and it is only a one story with a walkout finished basement - you don't address that in any way?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Jerry,
    I look the house up on Realtor.com, confirm square footage, and age (believe it or not, some people are not all that accurate when asked), see if its a slab, crawlspace, or basement. I don't really care how many stories it is.
    I only bring one ladder, my 17' Little Giant. I can get on, or at the edge, on just about any house in my market. (Disclaimer: Once in a blue moon, I will see that my ladder will not work, so I have a contractor friend that will drive over with his big ladders).

    I really do not care what my clients call their house, it has no bearing on my inspection. No where in my SOP am I required to describe the style of house I'm inspecting. Honestly, it has never come upshot to call it.

    When we ask if its a slab, crawlspace, or basement, they will often say..."yes, there's a crawlspace, its in the hallway, with a pull down ladder". Of course they mean the attic access.

    We have such a mixture here between slabs, crawlspaces, split foyers, and basements. Many basement homes are unfinished, some have a garage and laundry in the basement, and some are fully finished.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    I don't really care how many stories it is.
    I only bring one ladder, my 17' Little Giant. I can get on, or at the edge, on just about any house in my market. (Disclaimer: Once in a blue moon, I will see that my ladder will not work, so I have a contractor friend that will drive over with his big ladders).
    No wonder you don't ask about number of stories.

    I always brought my 17' Little Giant and my 26' Little Giant in my van (I put in a raised floor and both went in under the raised floor), there were a few times when even my 26' little Giant did't reach the edge of the of the lower roof.

    I still asked if the house was one story or two, just so I would have an idea of the roof I would be inspecting.

    I didn't have to be concerned with any basements either - no concerns over whether it was really a story or a basement down here, it would be an 'indoor pool' (I did have two basements ... cut into coral rock down in Coral Gables from the rum running days, those were 'high and dry' on a ridge well above sea level ... about 23 feet up ).

    During the last 5-10 years of inspecting, most of my homes were new homes on slabs, so I didn't even have very many crawlspaces either (those were mostly on the older homes).

    I never understood why so many reports would describe the house as a 'Ranch', 'Cape Cod', etc ... who cares, the clients know what it looks like and what they think it is called, I didn't care.

    I would put down whether it was one story, two, story, three story, etc., even an 11 story commercial building with a below grade parking garage I did ... but I didn't have all the possible configurations with basements you guys have. Then add in the new 'habitable attic' (which is NOT a 'story') and it gets even more complicated - I ran into some 'habitable attics' while doing AHJ inspections in more recent years, but you guys have had them for some time.

    It probably is best to stay as far away from 'story', 'floor', or other terms indication same ... of course, though, how would you describe the location of a bedroom which was above the grade level story without saying 'second floor bedroom' or similar? And it might be a 'habitable attic' and not a 'second floor'?

    Kind of poses a descriptive location problem to not use those terms.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Ok, I am confused with your question/perspective.
    (from Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.) )
    "Structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system, or the object or system so organized."

    Yes, all of the foundation (all types) and everything else making up the construction of walls, floors to and including the roof are part of the structural components. Within the structure are defined areas with names/terms/descriptions such as bedroom, basement and kitchen. The structure has terms referring to parts of its physical design such as walls, joist and trusses. The HVAC and Electrical are systems contained in the structure but are not structural. Just because your reporting system uses terms to define items as a sub category it does not necessarily make it part of terms definition. A structure has a basement (descriptive area/location) but a basement is not a structure though it has structure to create it.

    Horizon is something of a drill down system for classifications/descriptions in the report.
    (from Horizon website within an example report )::::"STRUCTURE

    Descriptions
    Configuration :Basement Slab-on-grade
    Foundation material: : Poured concrete
    Exterior wall construction: Wood frame
    Roof and ceiling framing: Trusses "




    Thanks!

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    IF I call out a room, I will say things like: basement bathroom, main floor powder room (I call the main floor where the front door is, or second floor guest bathroom. I don't get into the debate that the second floor bathroom might be the third floor bathroom if you call the basement the first level.


  28. #28
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    Smile Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    I looked in each of the reference sources provided by Garry Sorrells and strangely they either did not define the term "basement" or defined it in a way that was clearly incorrect, at least for this purpose! For instance, Oxford Dictionary says "1: the part of a building that is wholly or partly below ground level". Really? Wouldn't that make a footing a basement?

    Other ones define "basement window well" without actually defining "basement".

    My opinion: A basement might be located inside foundation walls. The basement, if present, is not the foundation, nor does the foundation necessarily create a basement.

    Maybe better is to describe them as levels. Lowest level, second level, highest level. "The lowest level is on a slab floor, and is below grade on three sides." is hard to misinterpret.

    However, this is ridiculously picky, and this sort of effort is likely to confuse people in an attempt to be so unambiguous that one cannot willfully misinterpret a narrative.

    To paraphrase: "Be careful. Do you want lawyers to write your boilerplate? Because this is how you get lawyers."


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Basement
    - - The area within the foundation walls which is below grade.

    Crawlspace
    - - the area within the foundation walls which is at or above grade.

    The above are descriptive, not actual definitions.
    Around here, most crawlspaces have the floor below grade.

    So with apologies to Justice Stewart, I don't know how to define a basement or crawlspace, but I know them when I see them.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Around here, most crawlspaces have the floor below grade.

    So with apologies to Justice Stewart, I don't know how to define a basement or crawlspace, but I know them when I see them.
    Lon, I tend to agree with your means of assessment.

    That being said, the Merriam Webster definition is as follows.
    1: the part of a building that is wholly or partly below ground level
    2: the ground floor facade or interior in Renaissance architecture
    3: the lowest or fundamental part of something; specifically: the rocks underlying stratified rocks.

    Now to go further. I would describe a basement as
    a; usable space within a foundation that;
    b. Has typically unfinished ceiling heights of 8'
    c. Often finished off as a conditioned space.
    d. Can be used for storage in either a habitable conditioned environment or not.
    e. Made into a habitable space to provide human occupancy with ceiling no lower than 6' feet.







    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Lon, I tend to agree with your means of assessment.


    b. Has typically unfinished ceiling heights of 8'
    c. Often finished off as a conditioned space.
    d. Can be used for storage in either a habitable conditioned environment or not.
    e. Made into a habitable space to provide human occupancy with ceiling no lower than 6' feet.

    A few days ago, I inspected a 120 year old house with a finished basement. My six foot client was stooped over most of the time to clear piping, ducting, etc. Same house had an attic access that I could barely fit my head through. A hundred years ago, men were smaller. The march of evolution never stops.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    A hundred years ago, men were smaller. The march of evolution never stops.
    I concur. I think the smaller human dimensions can be attributed to diet, readily available produce and proteins.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    My six foot client was stooped over most of the time to clear piping, ducting, etc. Same house had an attic access that I could barely fit my head through.
    In most cases the century homes I have assessed mostly have lower than average basement heights, although the attics are quite spacious.
    When it comes to architecture, I can see how geography as well as engineering and architectural services for the location may play a role in how a home is built.

    I do concur though, service piping and chaseways do lower the height of basement ceilings if we are allowed to call that space a basement as opposed to a foundation.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 03-24-2016 at 08:46 AM.
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Foundation or Basement? Which is which?

    I include basements, lower levels, crawl spaces and slabs under one section. In the description of components in that section I specify full basement, partial basement, full crawl etc. In this section I cover foundation, ground water sump pump, insulation, window wells, and dryness / signs of dampness. Support columns and beams, floor joists as well as any finished basement rooms go into the interior section of the report. It's what works for me.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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