Nothing Like A Big Smile

August 7, 2008

home inspector smileJust came back from a new construction phase inspection with another unbelievable site supervisor quote. “Son, your not allowed to inspect any of the installed hardware fasteners except for the heads. Pulling nails to check for size and length is not allowed on our sites. If your in doubt, just let us know and we’ll check it out for you”.  My smile doesn’t get much  bigger and the quiet little head shake that went with it must not have registered because he let the subject drop. I guess he was still trying to figure out how he was going to get the framers back to pull all the incorrect nails from every single connector in the building. 

Poor old Da-wayne, yep, I know him from another “fastener” debacle that almost cost him his job last year. Might I digress, last year under his watch several of the homes I was inspecting were coming up with improper hardware and nailing. Da-wayne stuck to his position that all was well. That I didn’t know what I was talking about – even though I backed up my reports with code references and installation instructions. Now here’s a lesson for you – always know who you are dealing with. 

My client just happened to be well connected with more than a few lawyers on staff, those lawyers contacted my other clients who had the same problems and poof !!! I get a call from the V.P. of Operations, he’s located in Texas but is willing to fly in to meet with me on Monday if I’m available. Monday, Monday, what a day at the office. I get paraded into the conference room where upon Da-wayne shoves the plans at me in protest of my faulty reporting. Ok, I’m up to the challenge, I find the plan details showing the connections and specified hardware.

Mr. Big is looking on now and Dawayne says in a loud voice, “that’s right, that’s what’s installed”.  I give my biggest smile and the quiet little head shake. Then I ask, Dawayne, did you even read the report, or look at the installation issues first hand? His voice escalating now – “all of the hardware and fasteners are correct to the plans, I’ve even brought in a box of the installed nails to prove it. Ok Da-wayne, lets see what you got.

Da-wayne proceeds to point out that the clips called for in the plan to tie the roof down are Simpson A35’s and that the nail specifed is a 10d nail. Wow Da-wayne, youre right on both counts, let’s see that box of nails you brought in. That’s a nice look’n box there Da-wayne, its even got the nail size printed out for you on the side.  Da-wayne, do you know what the difference is between a wire nail and a common nail? Umm, ah,, – well it’s about 17% different in width. The Simpson A35’s called for in the plans require 10d common nails (.131), not a 10d wire nail. And, oh, by the way, you don’t have Simpson A35’s installed, you have USP AA35’s which may have similar load characteristics but very different foot prints and approved applications at the roof shear transfer.

The room got pin drop quiet until Mr. Big started asking some questions like, how did this happen? Da-wayne quickly put the blame over to purcurement and suppliers. Mr. Big saddles on over to me with a practiced leading handshake and palm at my shoulder to guide my way towards the door, kinda like the doctor’s office, a very practiced movement.  I did get an invite back for that Friday, and all my inspections were paid for by the builder.

So, that was my last experience with Dawayne, I’m a bit surprised he didn’t take notice of the big smile and quiet head shake..

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.


March 3, 2006

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionSome times people just don’t get it, for whatever reason. Here I was at a re-inspection of a nice new big custom home at the pre-drywall stage. Our site supervisor is insisting that I shouldn’t ding him for a minor staircase imperfection of 1 inch in height difference between the risers.

With a big smile on my face and my head moving slightly left to right I waded in with the motor skills studies that determined why risers can be no more than 3/8ths difference in height.

His argument back to me was that the tile floor was not yet in place and that should bring up the lower riser by about 5/8ths of an inch, which by the way would put him at the 3/8th inch maximum tolerance from highest to lowest risers.

That sounded logical until I asked if the stairs were going to be left bare, without a floor covering of their own. To this he replied that, the carpet would be minimal in thickness and shouldn’t really be considered because it would only put the risers out of maximum tolerance by just a bit.

So if my math is approximately correct, carpet padding is about 1/4″ and the carpet itself even if on the thinnest of sides would measure at least 1/8″ in thickness, leaving a 5/8th difference in riser heights. Just a bit over the max of 3/8ths, a bit being 60%.

I received the same story again on how expensive it would be to start over to fix the slightly over tolerance issue. My first suggestion to him was to let the sub contractor worry about that and his first concern should be to the safety of the occupants. I could tell that I’d lost him on the safety concern so I put it another way.

Imagine, after documenting the safety hazard at the stairs you fail to do anything to correct it and someone get hurt using the stairs. I wouldn’t want to be the one explaining to a judge that it was just a “little bit” over tolerance would you?

Well, I thought I had em, but site supers can be tough minded and this one was no exception. His reply was that the boss wasn’t going to make him fix the dang stairs anyway as an accident is unlikely, so let’s just move on.

I paused a moment, and asked what’s going to happen when the house is resold and the home inspector declares the stairs a safety hazard? It’s clearly out of tolerance and the Registrar of Contractors Workmanship Standards would clearly dictate that the stairs be made safe, i.e. reconstructed.

Add attorney’s fee’s onto whatever it costs to reconstruct the stairs at that late date and your boss will probably see the wisdom in calling back the sub contractor to fix it now. “Whatever” is the educated response mumbled my way as he saunter off clearly disgusted with me, not wanting to discuss the rest of the list.

Funny how things work out. Not one hour after leaving the site I got a call to do a home inspection on a brand new home in the same neighborhood, same builder, different staircase, same stair problem. Yep, a 1″ difference at the first riser on a real nice all finished wood winding staircase, sides wood paneled with a nice custom Newell post at the first tread.

Whatever happens, and it won’t be coming out of my pocket.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.