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Excessive Shimming... Is that a problem?


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Hi All,

I just had a home inspection report pointing out an issue with the house foundation as described by the inspector:

"The piers in the crawlspace have excessive shimming on top of the block pier. This can be subject to compression or deterioration".

Please see attached pictures.

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tn_20123603119_exessive_shimming01.jpg

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tn_20123603146_exessive_shimming02.jpg

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The house is not that old (2006) and was built by a known national builder. It has no cracks or any other foundation issues.

Could you please help me assess the severity of such issue?

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From the '06 IRC:

R606.6.1 Pier cap. Hollow piers shall be capped with 4

inches (102 mm) of solid masonry or concrete or shall have

cavities of the top course filled with concrete or grout or

other approved methods.

That stack of lumber will compress some. How much? It's hard to say. If the pier is hollow and you are in NC, it could serve as a termite highway into the structure, as routine termite inspection can't see inside the pier. It is certainly sloppy, lazy, workmanship. Just because a builder is a "national" builder it doesn't mean he's better than anybody else. I would rather have something built by a one-at-a-time local builder who takes pride in his work.

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Correction: it was built by a local sub-contract framing crew hired by a national builder.

I wouldn't suggest doing anything about it now, but it would certainly give me pause to consider if there were other, more egregious framing errors elsewhere in the structure.

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How is it different that a concrete pier and a 6x6 post for example, The grain is horizontal as oppose to vertical which may mean more shrinkage, besides that if it has a footing, I dont see a problem with it. It is also carrying a load through an I joist close the wall.

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Hi All,

I just had a home inspection report pointing out an issue with the house foundation as described by the inspector:

"The piers in the crawlspace have excessive shimming on top of the block pier. This can be subject to compression or deterioration".

Please see attached pictures.

The house is not that old (2006) and was built by a known national builder. It has no cracks or any other foundation issues.

Could you please help me assess the severity of such issue?

It's severely stupid. The crew that did that were morons.

The issue isn't compression. The shim's won't "compress" under the load of a smaller member above them. However, they will change in dimension as a result of shrinkage. During the first few months after they were placed, they probably shrank significantly and allowed the structure above them to move as well. There might be seasonal movement as the humidity in your crawlspace increases and decreases throughout the year and the shims expand and contract in response - perhaps as much as 1/4". This "pumping" action can cause problems with your finish flooring and it can lead to squeaks in the floor and cracks in the drywall.

None of this would have any effect on the perimeter foundation and it certainly won't cause cracks there.

The real problem is termites. Where are the solid pier caps that, as Jim Baird pointed out, are supposed to be present?

This isn't a "big" problem, it's just a stupid one. If it were my house, I'd want it fixed just so that I knew I wasn't walking around on top of stupid every day.

Your naive confidence in a "known national builder" is frustrating for us, as those kinds of builders are often the worst out there. And they were particularly bad 6 years ago when they were building houses at breakneck speed.

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Those aren't shims. They're stacked boards that are serving as a pier.

Something no one has mentioned is the prevention of uplift and lateral displacement. And don't you want the components of a pier to serve as a single, supportive member?

As we know, in real time, those piers could perform swimmingly for many, many decades. But if someone is spending his dough, and buying a house, why not buy one a little less idiotic?

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It wouldn't be much cost for just that. Simply replace the stacked lumber with CMU's then add a plate on top. The real issue here, I think, is what else did this couillon builder do on this house because that may be where the really expensive repairs are.

The 2nd OP photo shows one such pier supporting a single floor joist. That makes me suspicious and is why I say 'couillon builder'.

Marc

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I have to ask the "ok, how bad is it really?" question.

Stupid? check.....

Termite highway? check......

Movement? probably, but mostly because the vb and other details are whacked, and even then, relatively minor.

I'd be fixing everything else before I gave the stacked pier a thought.

And, nationally known builders are the worst. Absolute worst.

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I have been in dwellings where those I-joists were to minimum spec but the floor still felt like a trampoline. In our state plans are specifically not required for houses, so structural details are WAG's often. As an AHJ inspector I have often called for extra piers below point loads where common sense tells one it is needed. Builders often modify stock plans on the spot and mistakes are often made. BTW, anytime untreated wood is found in a crawlspace a termite contractor always notes it on his inspection report. I get the feeling that it makes for a good escape tunnel for him should WDO problems arise.

Marc, being rusty on my French, what does "cuillon" mean?

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And, nationally known builders are the worst. Absolute worst.

Your and Jim's experience is different than mine. I find the tract home builders to make repeating, almost predictable, sets of mistakes which are usually of relatively small significance. By far the worst problems I find are in custom homes (usually large & expensive). Like the one that had 17 broken roof trusses as well as a framed wall w/ brick veneer buried 3 feet below exterior grade.

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Marc, being rusty on my French, what does "cuillon" mean?

Cajun French for "little a##hole."

Depends on who you ask. As my family used it, dimwit, bird-brain, sometimes used to denote an individual with a brain in intermission or generally lacking in mental faculties commonly found in normal persons, dogs, horses and pigs.

Marc

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Marc, being rusty on my French, what does "cuillon" mean?

Cajun French for "little a##hole."

Depends on who you ask. As my family used it, dimwit, bird-brain, sometimes used to denote an individual with a brain in intermission or generally lacking in mental faculties commonly found in normal persons, dogs, horses and pigs.

Marc

Heard that one a lot when you were a kid, eh Marc? [:)]
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Marc, being rusty on my French, what does "cuillon" mean?

Cajun French for "little a##hole."

Depends on who you ask. As my family used it, dimwit, bird-brain, sometimes used to denote an individual with a brain in intermission or generally lacking in mental faculties commonly found in normal persons, dogs, horses and pigs.

Marc

Heard that one a lot when you were a kid, eh Marc? [:)]

I know very little french. Lost my ears before I had a chance to pick it up, but 'couillon', yeah, heard that one every day.

Marc

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