Signet Home Inspections
Remodel Home Inspection Services
If you have a residential property that has undergone any type of addition, remodel or modification, it is possible that although concealed to you, some construction defects or violations might currently exist . Even if the work was performed by licensed contractors and has been inspected and approved by the local building department, it is still no guarantee the property is defect-free. If you currently own a property fitting this description, it may benefit you to consider scheduling your home for one of our detailed, comprehensive and independent “Remodel Home Inspections”.
It has been our experience especially in what we refer to as the “hidden” areas of a house such as attics and crawlspaces, that the highest number of defects will be located. Contractors and tradesmen sometimes compromise work quality in these difficult-to-access regions as they know the likelihood of their work being seen by you, much less inspected by a qualified individual is extremely low. Our inspections have revealed that the type, severity, and resulting significance of these defects can range from simple workmanship quality issues to serious health and safety concerns for the building occupants.
You might be asking yourself “How can this be?” The answer to this question can usually be traced to three contributing sources:
1. Contractor Qualifications:
Like any industry, the knowledge, experience, qualifications and resulting work quality will differ dramatically from contractor to contractor. While it is always advisable to only enlist contractors and companies that are licensed, bonded and insured, this by itself is no guarantee your project will be completed in a proper and safe manner. One typically assumes that the contractors they hire are professionals, know what they are doing and that the individual actually doing the work has a high degree of knowledge and integrity. However we all know this is not always the case.
2. Inadequately Trained Contractor’s Workforce:
This may be the single most contributing factor to sub-standard construction practices as while the contractor you hire may be licensed and qualified, are they the ones actually performing the work? Many times the actual job is completed by workers other than the contractor and at times they are under-supervised and lacking in the necessary skills to satisfactorily complete the job.
3. Municipal Building Department Shortcomings:
Much like their contractor counterparts, government inspector’s experience and knowledge will vary significantly, even within the same department. It has been our experience that some inspectors do not know the applicable code sections for the job they are inspecting and they incorrectly interpret and apply the applicable code section to the installation. When added to the fact that many building departments are understaffed, over-scheduled, and overworked making many inspection stops a day, one can certainly see how things can be overlooked. Generally, this type of environment does not allow for what should be a comprehensive inspection of job site conditions.
InterNACHI estimates that of the 45 million existing decks, only 40% are completely safe. Could yours be one of them?
A good example of the above scenarios playing out in real life can be seen in deck construction. More than 2 million decks are built and replaced each year in North America and InterNACHI estimates that of the 45 million existing decks, only 40% are completely safe. Because decks appear to be simple to build, many people do not realize that decks are in fact, structures that need to be designed to adequately resist certain stresses. Like any other house or building, a deck must be designed to support the weight of people, snow loads, and objects. A deck must be able to resist lateral and uplift loads that can act on the deck as a result of wind or seismic activity. Deck stairs must be safe and handrails graspable. And finally, deck rails should be safe for children by having proper infill spacing.
A deck failure is any failure of a deck that could lead to injury, including rail failure or total deck collapse. There is no international system that tracks deck failures, and each is treated as an isolated event rather than a systemic problem. Very few municipalities perform investigations into the cause of the failure, and the media is generally more concerned with injuries than with the causes of collapses. Rail failure occurs much more frequently than total deck collapses, however, because rail failures are less dramatic than total collapses and normally don’t result in death, injuries from rail failures are rarely reported. Here are some interesting facts about deck failure:
- More decks collapse in the summer than during the rest of the year.
- Almost every deck collapse occurred while the decks were occupied or under a heavy snow load.
- There is no correlation between deck failure and whether the deck was built with or without a building permit.
- There is no correlation between deck failure and whether the deck was built by a homeowner or a professional contractor.
- There is a slight correlation between deck failure and the age of the deck.
- About 90% of deck collapses occurred as a result of the separation of the house and the deck ledger board, allowing the deck to swing away from the house. It is very rare for deck floor joists to break mid-span.
- Many more injuries are the result of rail failure, rather than complete deck collapse.
- Deck stairs are notorious for lacking graspable handrails.
- Many do-it-yourself homeowners, and even contractors, don’t believe that rail infill spacing codes apply to decks.
As you can see, a proper deck or any type of construction inspection for that matter, relies heavily on both the professional judgment of the inspector and their willingness to dig as deep as need be and as we discussed above, that can vary dramatically from inspector to inspector. So if you currently own a property that has undergone any type of addition, remodel or modification, it would behoove you to consider scheduling one of our detailed, comprehensive and independent “Remodel Inspections”.