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castleinspector

Charred rafters Repaired?

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I inspected this home last week and have a question about the fire damage. Owner says the fire was in the 1930's however repairs look recent. New roof was done in 2004 looks as though the repairs were made in 2004. Should rafters this chared still be in place? I'm not a roofing specialist but I would believe they have lost structural integrity.

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I spent 17 yeas of my life in a (then) 100-year old home in upstate New York where 100% of the roof framing looked like that. You would not believe some of the winter snow loads that house has endured and still endures to this day. That house would be about 152 years old now.

I dunno, charring looks awful but I think it has to be pretty deep to seriously compromise the timbers. I'm no expert though; one of these guys has probably done restoration work and will know the answer to that.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I would have performed the highly-sophisticated, pull out a screwdriver and thump-the-rafters-with-both-ends test. It's easy enough to determine if the wood is still sturdy or not.

Too, if there was no smoky odor in the attic, the damage isn't recent, and the rafters have performed swell.

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It doesn't really matter if it's fire damage or water damage. If someone doesn't make it "like it never even happened", the next buyer down the line is going to ask, "what happened? Since most folks don't want to get that meticulous in the attic, documentation better be at the ready. Snohomish County says you need a building permit if the repair damage is in excess of $2000. I think it's important to remind the client to do the paper chase to see if there was some kind of documentation to provide closure on the condition. (either the building official or the contractor verifying whats left is acceptable)

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It doesn't really matter if it's fire damage or water damage. If someone doesn't make it "like it never even happened", the next buyer down the line is going to ask, "what happened? Since most folks don't want to get that meticulous in the attic, documentation better be at the ready. Snohomish County says you need a building permit if the repair damage is in excess of $2000. I think it's important to remind the client to do the paper chase to see if there was some kind of documentation to provide closure on the condition. (either the building official or the contractor verifying whats left is acceptable)

I don't disagree, really, but who gets to take a look and make the call on what repairs are going to cost? Clearly, Jethro and his halfwit son, Buford, are going to be a lot less expensive than someone who's competent.

Also, code officials in most areas aren't trained to assess fire damage, and my clients pay ME to tell them whether a building is sound, not a contractor who may or may not know what he's looking at.

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Sistering structural members on that scale is not something I would condone.

In a class for first time home buyers I have a picture similiar to castleinspector's in which I explain to the class how the charred wood will ignite more easily. 'Charcoaled wood...good for a bar-b-que...not good for a house.' [;)]

Marc

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I recently inspected a house where the the rafters were damaged by soda blasting- nothing too major, some sap wood missing, some damaged areas where the blaster lingered too long while he was lighting a joint. Anyway, the buyer kept pressing me to take a stand on whether it was OK or not and even though I knew in my heart that it was fine, I didn't want to own his roof so I suggested he hire a structural engineer to runs some numbers.

Well, it turns out that the roof was built to support exactly a 40 psf snow load so even the minimal amount of stock removal that had occurred rendered the roof framing structurally inadequate.

My point is, in cases like this have someone else own the roof system.

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By any measure, the damage in the two photos is EASILY greater than 2 grand. If there was no permit, that eliminates much of the documentation of the original damage. If there was a permit, there would need to be a responsible party (owner builder) or licensed contractor. It is the licensed contractor's responsibility (by law) to construct properly. (not the jurisdiction's job to tell him how to do it) I think this is important to note because it is very possible that the client could decide to sell in a few years. If the next buyer's inspection does not see things the way you see it, it may come back to bite. I don't think it is a good idea for for a home inspector to vouch for the performance of roof framing that features a charred member(s) sandwiched between newer rafters. (not the way I would do it) Also, there is no encapsulation paint anywhere. I don't know if it is a territorial thing, but in So. Calif., almost all of the fire damage jobs I have seen have been painted to help contain the carbon and carbon smell.

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I recently inspected a house where the the rafters were damaged by soda blasting- nothing too major, some sap wood missing, some damaged areas where the blaster lingered too long while he was lighting a joint. Anyway, the buyer kept pressing me to take a stand on whether it was OK or not and even though I knew in my heart that it was fine, I didn't want to own his roof so I suggested he hire a structural engineer to runs some numbers.

Well, it turns out that the roof was built to support exactly a 40 psf snow load so even the minimal amount of stock removal that had occurred rendered the roof framing structurally inadequate.

My point is, in cases like this have someone else own the roof system.

I have learned a lesson. Thank you.

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Just based on what I see, I would be more concerned about the reduced flash point of the charred wood vs the strength. Wood can maintains its strength even while burning up to 2000F. People are always surprised when you tell them a steel beam in a garage will fail faster than a wooden beam in a fire. Maybe its over kill but I recommend having any charred wood preped and painted with a intumescent paint.

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You seem to be asking - Is charred wood acceptable? and the answer is - it depends on the extent of the damage. Have a builder or a home inspector take a look and get an opinion.

For something in writing, you may need a structural engineer's report.

You can also consult the local authority where you apply for the permit. .Sometimes if you ask the authority what he thinks you should do, you get the answer you need to get a final approval. That approval adds value when you go to sell.

 

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On 3/12/2019 at 10:38 AM, Jim Katen said:

I find it interesting that this old discussion should come up again given that the "hottest" new siding these days is burnt wood. 

http://charredwood.com/history-of-shou-sugi-ban-charred-wood-treatment/

 

 

When my wife asked for a bottle rack on the wall for new wine club shipments, she got the charred southern yellow pine 1/4 inch paneling courtesy yours truly.  Hanging ten on the curl of the future's wave.

P3120467.JPG

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