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Brick veneer as a structural member


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A client has contacted me about poor workmanship by a contractor.  He's adding a small room to the rear wall of his house with the only opening leading to the rear porch.  It will become a bathroom for folks using the pool nearby.

This contractor used a framing nailer to attach a wood stud wall to the brick veneer.  I'll be advising my client to put the contract on hold while I find a code cite that says a structural wall has to connect to a structural wall and brick veneer won't do.  That will help his defense if the contractor goes after him for the balance of the contract.

I don't even know which section to begin looking.  Anyone?

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Brick veneer is not a structural member.  Might have to back into this and come from the other direction to see what an "approved" brick wall will support. Sometimes it is not what is prohibited but what is approved.... The code can't cover every possible stupid mistake.

 

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Just spoke with the local AHJ.  He seems to agree with those here that there's no prohibition against it but there's no provision for it either.

This stud wall does not connect to wood framing above.  It derives it's shear strength solely from the 16dCCS gun-driven through the stud directly into the brickwork.  Perhaps that exceeds 'attached to' and maybe even reaches to 'supported by'.

 

IMG_8181.JPG

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I'd say it's getting its shear strength from the siding and OSB over the studs.  The veneer attachment is giving lateral stability.  As long as it seems secure to the brick I'd say its OK. 

Edited by Mike Lamb
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done these numerous times, don't care for the look & had to explain the poor design to clients

pneumatic nails will horseshoe back upon themselves, attaching to the stud only, or break brick so any that actually penetrate are most likely temporarily attached to fractured mortar

this can/will loosen the wall over time or one good door slam-bam argument

best application is to predrill all holes, apply dbl bead air/moisture sealant to wall stud & tapcon or similar directly into brick @ min 12"ctr

based on the pic i question the joist/rafter attachment & door jamb appears out of plumb

Edited by BADAIR
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1 hour ago, BADAIR said:

done these numerous times, don't care for the look & had to explain the poor design to clients

pneumatic nails will horseshoe back upon themselves, attaching to the stud only, or break brick so any that actually penetrate are most likely temporarily attached to fractured mortar

this can/will loosen the wall over time or one good door slam-bam argument

best application is to predrill all holes, apply dbl bead air/moisture sealant to wall stud & tapcon or similar directly into brick @ min 12"ctr

based on the pic i question the joist/rafter attachment & door jamb appears out of plumb

I question just about everything this contractor has done but with Louisiana regulatory bureaucracy where it is, getting accountability out of the contractor is nigh impossible.  Easy solution if the contract is more specific about what the homeowner will get and includes 'draws' that specify what percentage of the contract sum the contractor will get as he progresses with the construction.  This homeowner didn't do that.  Few around here ever do.

I've done many commercial draw inspections in the last several years.  Time to start doing that in residential so contractors do it right and don't get paid too much, too soon.

Edited by Marc
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It could have been done better (tapcons, shims, structural sealant joint, etc) but really, for what it is, it looks fine to me. If this is the contractor's worst blunder, I'd be fine with it. By the way, it's not too late to toss in a few tapcons. . . 

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It's probably the worse one.  The other dozen or so issues are less significant.

In an area where new construction is about $100/sf, this half-cooked bath addition is closer to $350/sf.  He deserves better.

I'm meeting him tomorrow and he'll decide what he wants to do.  I've already sent my recommendation, so I'll hear what he has to say.

Thanks for the responses.

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Why is there no ceiling?

I don't see the brick wall working in a structural way at all.  The room looks self supported.

In terms of sf costing, this is a mighty small space containing what is usually the most expensive space in a house with all the fixture and labor costs of their installation.

Edited by Jim Baird
error correction
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The underside of the porch roof is the ceiling for this bathroom.  The wall with the passageway does not rise much above the door header but is intentionally left open for ventilation.   It's the homeowner's design, ill-designed I might add.

What happened here is that the homeowner relied on trust when he hired this contractor when he should have written up a detailed contract.

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20 hours ago, Jim Baird said:

"... The wall with the passageway does not rise much above the door header but is intentionally left open for ventilation. ..."

So possums and raccoons can just move right in.

Reckon a pet skunk could keep them others at bay? [:)]

They'll end up with some kind of screen there at least.

He could have run the end studs up to the rafters and made that whole thing not only stronger but also easier to complete properly in the future. Such as with awning-style windows.

 

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In keeping with one of my recommendations, the client reported the issues to the city, who sent out a 3rd party code inspector to the site.  The inspector issued a 'stop work' order and set a requirement for a plan review and for the issues to be corrected.  He will furnish a write-up of the issues to my client which, hopefully, will include cites that were violated.  This will give the client some ammo as he proceeds against the contractor.

I see a new revenue stream for home inspectors in helping homeowners deal with contractors.

We refer to skunks as 'pole-cats' here.  The white strip looks like a pole running down his back.

Edited by Marc
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Thanks, Marc.

I heard the phrase "stinks like a polecat" when I was growing up but never knew the skunk connection until just now.

On this island, we have neither skunks, porcupines nor Grizzlies.

Good to know the authority called for an improved plan for that mess.

 

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"...the city, who sent out a 3rd party code inspector to the site...."

more signs of the gradual creep into public services by private sector.  I have been there and done that, BTW, but I think it is funny for that 3rd party to call for plans review, after what is there in concrete terms is so apparent.

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