A Case Of More Not Being Stronger..A Stair Story.

A Case Of More Not Being Stronger…..A Stair Story. (This is # 4 in a series on a single flipped house.)

   nailed stringer L   nailed stringer R  

These stringers have been nailed to the deck framing with a power nailer. An air powered nailer is a great tool. It allows you to drive large nails without tiring you out. So if you want another nail there , it’s just pull.. BANG and it’s in there. And there’s the problem!

Before the common use of these tools that extra nail took some more effort. Sore arms generally set limits on the number of extra or unnecessary nails being driven.

Carpenters had code books, charts and rules that governed the type, size and number of nails used for any type of joint and size of framing. And they learned this though years of apprenticeship and work practice, training and exams.

But even carpenters had to be cautioned when these tools went into widespread use as it’s too easy to use the wrong size nail or put too many in the same area.  And Codes were changed to correct bad habits and practices.

But on this flipped property this is amateur work. No carpenter puts that many nails in this area, let alone both faces of the same piece. On the end of this stringer, in the last 2 inches of wood, how many nails are there? How much solid wood is left, wood that is not split by a nail or two?

There are too many nails (12). They are too big. And there is no solid wood left in the last 2 inches of the stringer. If you removed it and sawed it off at the 2 inch line, little scraps the size of your finger or thumb would fall to the ground.

Prior to the code changes larger framing (deeper) was required to butt the stringers against as a ledger strip had to be nailed. The ledger strip required a triangular nail pattern using nails larger than 4 inches and that required a doubling of the bearing frame.

Then the stringer was notched to bear on the ledger strip (this is where the weight was transferred) and a stringer this size would be nailed like this with two nails on one side and one in the center on the other face. The nails would be galvanized 2 or 2 and 1/2 common. (This is toe nailing, through nailing from the other side of the support frame is better.)

Nails hold the framing in place. The framing configuration transfers the weight. Nails normally are not intended to transfer weight. (The ledger board detail was an exception.)

Now the current codes treat this differently. Correctly sized metal  joist hangers are to be used. Galvanized nails can be used to mount them. Deck or outdoor screws are NOT to be used between the hanger and the supported framing – that has to be nailed – It’s a fire code requirement.

Now look at these photos again. There is no ledger strip. There are no joist hangers. The nails are too big. There are too many of them. They are not galvanized. There is not enough solid wood there to hold these stringers in place.

What keeps it from collapse?


Just like a ladder. And just like a ladder, a side ways push or the base sliding out will cause it to fall. Are the stringers attached to anything at the bottom?…nope!

More nails is not stronger. To many is weaker.



Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post


Skippy will’ve skipped, before the water starts to drip.

Skippity Do Da …Skippity De Day…..

Skippy will’ve skipped, before the water starts to drip.  (This is #1 in a series on a single flipped house.)


Skippy label

Well…we don’t know that ‘Skippy” did it, but Skippy’s tag is on the equipment.

That equipment of this flipped property is on the roof (and a few other places), and that’s where we find ‘It’.

So on the roof we have this installed. The refrigerant lines pierce the roof membrane flashing and counter flashing right at the wall to roof joint. That’s too low and this will leak, admitting water to the house.

 DSCF0019a.jpg   DSCF0020a.jpg

 ‘Skippy’ appears to be a local HVAC contractor or equipment vendor. The number on the lable is for a cell phone (mobile).

The Air Conditioning system itself is fine, but how it’s set up will create problems for the home owner.

Caulking can NOT be used to make a waterproof seal aganst loose gravel stones. It just won’t work. More caulking dosen’t help. Water will just soak through the gravel and follow the piping into the home.

This will be leaking sooner rather than later. These lines should have been located so as to enter higher up the wall, at least above the metal counter flashing, but a practical recommendation would be 12 to 18″ up from the roof surface. Think snow depth.

 And then there is this detail;


 Despite the fact that the wood is pressure treated, it will be long gone before the end of the service life of this equipment.  The supports (scraps of fence boards – you can’t buy thinner) will have to be replaced before then.

 (The current best practice for these installations is to use the plastic pads that are available now for this purpose. The secondary bonus is they are made from recycled materials.)

 And there is Skippy’s tag, (circled) and if this is a sample of how ‘Skippy’ works, then Skippy will have skipped long before the water starts to drip.

This reno is a flip. Granite counter tops won’t matter when the ceiling starts to drip. So, would you take the bet that Skippy will not skip.

This is # 1 of a series on the same flipped house.

1.    Skippy will’ve skipped, before the water starts to drip.

2.    Double Header…Raining On You, Times Two!

3.    A Case Of New Not Being Better … A Stair Story 

4.    Posting soon: A Case Of More Not Being Stronger…..A Stair Story. 

5.    Posting soon:  The LANDING Looked Good But Is There A CRASH In The Future?

6.    To come – landing/deck

7.    To come – electrical

8.     To come – exterior & landscaping


Please remember to have an inspection during the real estate process to help eliminate any of these concerns!

Put our experience to work for you. 


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

The Overflow Valve MUST Be Checked!

Jut because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s right! Some builders are in a hurry. Some just don’t care. Flippers can be among the worst. Check out this article.

This is a reblog so link through to the original writer’s blog and leave your comments there.

When I am on new construction inspections I always check the overflow valve on bathtubs.  Especially when I am in a flipper’s property I always check the overflow valve, if the tub is new.

You’ve seen them.  The are found high on the wall under the hardware and covered, typically with a metal disk.

If the tub is forgotten while the water is running, or if slightly too full when someone dips themselves into the water, the only place for water to escape, except into the house, is the overflow valve.  So, the overflow valve MUST be checked!

What I often do is take the cover off to check the valve!  If the inside has purple primer, it is a good bet that the overflow valve has been connected and is functioning!

I will run water into it also to see if the water leaks below.  IT’S A BUMMER WHEN IT DOES!  But that is why we do inspections.

In this very popular flipper’s house there was a large whirlpool tub in the remodeled master bathroom.

Before filling, I thought I’d check the overflow valve.

Well, mercy me, it is still capped with the manufacturer’s covering!

I should look in the cavity underneath the tub to see if it’s connected.

Well, mercy me, there is no access panel!

For sure we can at least check the whirlpool mechanism for function.

Well, mercy me, it doesn’t work!

The GFI breaker must be tripped.  Often it is on the wall. (It looks like a receptacle, with the GFI buttons only.)

Well, mercy me, there is no GFI on the wall!

There was no breaker in the panel box that said “Jacuzzi,” so it isn’t there.  Well, I’ll just check and see if it’s underneath the tub…

Well, mercy me, I can’t!  There’s still no access panel!

My recommendation:  anytime you see a whirlpool tub, it is important that you check the following:

1.  An overflow valve is crucially important to relieve excess water when it’s too high.
2.  That the drain tubing is connected is crucially important so, well, SO IT DRAINS THE WATER OUT!
3.  An access panel is crucially important to get to the guts of the motor and mechanisms if a repair is needed.
4.  A GFI breaker is crucially important to protect bathers from a short in the electrical service to the tub.
5.  It is crucially important that the whirlpool motor works!  At least if you want to take a whirlpool bath…

Surprise, surprise, surprise Sergeant Carter!




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia



Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post