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Where do they come from.


Phillip
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They may be IN Alabama now, but my money says they CAME from somewhere else. The important thing is not where they came from, it's why they are turned loose to work without training. More importantly, it's why the "builders" who are supposedly overseeing the project don't catch these things. They are the same sorts of guys who think this kind of modification is a good idea:

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Others in my area may disagree but I can't recall any egregious violations in "modern" construction the likes of which are shown in the photos above.

The worst stuff I see is from houses that have been butchered by ignorant do-it-yourselfers that just got learned from an HGTV program or a mini workshop at the Home Depot.

Even worse are the homes that have been repaired by the immigrant folks. Calm down, this isn't a comment on race relations or the current controversy around immigration reform -- its just the truth.

The worst homes here can be palaces for some of these folks that come from third world environments. They're happy with running water and a roof that doesn't leak. They don't mind much for how things are to be done safely and correctly.

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Hi,

Well, I agree with most of your comments, Randy, but improperly installed I-joists are a common fact of life here in the Northwest too. Believe it or not, there is a lumber company in Snohomish County that sells a "framing kit" to builders that consists of custom-made 9-1/4" high I-joists that are matched to conventional 2 by 10 rim joists. The lumber company has an engineer on staff that says it's perfectly alright and they've been selling builders those kits for the past 20 years.

Now, the other side of the story - the I-Joist manufacturer's design engineers, the Wood I-Joist Manufacturer's Association (WIJMA), and the APA-Engineered Wood Association's engineers have all condemned the practice and the manufacturer won't warranty the joists. Worse, even though the manufacturer makes a custom squash block for all of their joists, and can tell a builder exactly where to put them so the joists will be properly reinforced, the lumber company isn't selling any of those with the kits and the systems aren't being reinforced.

When I discovered it and started revealing it to homeowners, one of the builders that uses the system tried to sue me in order to shut me up and prevent me from inspecting any more homes in the developments they'd put in.

You'll find these in a lot of homes - especially in Snohomish County because the lumber company is in Arlington. Look for I-joists matched to conventionally-sawn rims and the name "Cascade Lumber Company" stamped on the side of the joists. If you get any of these, you need to make the buyer aware that, according to the APA-Engineered Wood Association, they'll be sitting on a structural failure time bomb, and, according to the I-joist manufacturer, the lifetime warranty on the joists is null and void.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Mike;

I'm no lawyer but if the I-joist manufacture is aware of what's going on and they still supply this dealer with their materials, they may assume some of the blame.

Jim:

The American public school system is only partially to blame; My question has and alway will be "where are the parents when these thing go on?" Parents have to take MOST of the blame.

Darren

www.aboutthehouseinspections.com

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Others in my area may disagree but I can't recall any egregious violations in "modern" construction the likes of which are shown in the photos above.

The worst stuff I see is from houses that have been butchered by ignorant do-it-yourselfers that just got learned from an HGTV program or a mini workshop at the Home Depot.

Even worse are the homes that have been repaired by the immigrant folks. Calm down, this isn't a comment on race relations or the current controversy around immigration reform -- its just the truth.

The worst homes here can be palaces for some of these folks that come from third world environments. They're happy with running water and a roof that doesn't leak. They don't mind much for how things are to be done safely and correctly.

The worst stuff I see is alway in areas that:

  • are economically depressed

have sub-par public school systems have little government oversite of construction activities.

In my region, that includes the outskirts of Sheridan and all of Willamina & Grand Ronde. These are old logging towns where the economy tanked when the mills closed. They're full of people who have little formal education and either no job or a low-paying job. Their houses are worth very little so they can't justify spending much money on them. If there's a skilled tradesman in the town, he goes to McMinnville or Salem to work where the houses cost more and he can earn a much larger salary.

I don't know if Phillip's area is like that, but I see the kind of stuff in Phillip's photos all over the Sheridan/Willamina/Grand Ronde beltway.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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The worst stuff I see is alway in areas that:

  • are economically depressed

have sub-par public school systems have little government oversite of construction activities.

Good comments, Jim. I agree.

Here's the irony: the greater Seattle area is not economically depressed, we have excellent schools (for the most part), and some jurisdictions are nazi-like when enforcing new construction and /or remodeling.

Yet we still have pockets of sub-standard housing and just bad, poor conditions.

Interesting time on this discussion; just two weeks ago I inspected probably one of the most bizarre homes I've ever been in.

A Philippino man bought a 800 square foot home 11 years ago in this less-than-desirable neighborhood that is now being revitalized.

Over the years, he's added 5000 square feet to the place. Better yet, he's supposedly a "contractor". He wanted to house his sons and daughters and their spouses. The place has 9 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.

Trust me, the place was butchered and hacked. It was the largest report for me to date. The gas water heater in the basement had no flue on it - it was venting directly into the basement ceiling.

If I find the time, I'll post some photos.

The original question: "Where do they come from." Perhaps this is a discussion, in part, about immigration?

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Where do they come from? The county courthouse.

If the muni codes bubbas were actually trained and educated, and they spent adequate time onsite, and if they forced the errant builders to stop work and correct violations, then the new houses would be built to code, which is the legal baseline.

Instead, we have codes bubbas who effectively have no-show jobs, and homebuyers pay what amounts to a tax on new construction. The people who buy those houses will pay out significant money to correct the problems the useless codes bubbas "blessed."

Muni govt should either force the codes bubbas to do their jobs, or pull the plug on the codes department. As it is, taxpayers get nothing for the money spent on codes "enforcement."

WJ

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This home is outside a small town that has one school system for the town and county. There is no AHJ in the area and it is close to Smith Lake which has high dollar crap being built.

The house is 2 year old. No arch fault breakers and the bath room vents end under the insulation in the attic. There are items inside the house that not finish. It was lived in about 6 months, now the bank own it.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

The original question: "Where do they come from." Perhaps this is a discussion, in part, about immigration?

No, immigration has nothing to do with the prevalence of bubba construction. The fact that there's a large percentage of poorly-educated immigrants with no formal training in western framing and construction techniques working in the construction sector is entirely our own fault.

We prize independence and the right for anyone in this country to do anything they want to the detriment of our population. In England or Germany, a student has to go to a trade school for at least three years before he gets turned loose as an apprentice on a construction site. He or she then works for a set number of years before he becomes a journeyman and it's many years later before he or she can be called a master builder. Other old world countries have similar systems.

It's a simple fact that there are some folks that immigrate here from other countries who are better trained at construction than many of those native Americans who are today considered old hands at construction. So, immigration has nothing to do with it - it's the fact that employers are forced into a situation where they have to accept unskilled labor and do the best they can with it or go out of business. That's a fact of life for builders.

In this country, although there's plenty of educational courses to teach folks how to build properly, very few places actually require folks in the construction trade to actually be educated in construction, in order to work in the business, and there's nothing stopping Joe-Bob, Esmeralda, Jose, or Ivan, who've never had any formalized training in construction from getting into the trade. In fact, since we make it so damned expensive for builders to stay in business, they can't afford in most cases to pay a really decent wage and the only people who want those jobs are the Joe-Bobs, Esmeraldas, Joses, and Ivans who don't have the training or experience to qualify for a higher-paying and less dirty/less labor-intensive job.

Most colleges can't make money on the construction programs because most smart young folks these days want to go into computers,IT, or something similar where they won't have to get dirty.

In the old world they prized tradition and learning the job right and still do in many countries. We prize keeping the cost low and getting the job done quickly. To do that, builders have to keep the cost down and that means hiring just about anyone they can to fill many of these jobs.

Yes, there are many folks in the business that care about producing a good product. Yes, there are many in the business who've had an excellent construction education. However, the sad fact is that there aren't enough to keep up with the demand for trainers and the number of people who are now in the second and third generation of learning how to do things sloppily and wrong has grown to the point where things are almost out of control.

Oh, by the way, when I'm talking about lack of decent training and trades being flooded with those who're marginally trained, I'm also referring to our own.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Mike

Well said, I agree. That why I take all the training I can get. The bad thing most of the traning out there is crap.

Specking of crap here is some more photo from the same house.

What comments would you write about these.

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With PC running rampant, I may be stepping into something that I later regret, but I feel compelled to. I've been on both sides of the new construction quality issue having dealt with it both as a builder and as an inspector.

Nine years ago, after 16 years of building custom homes I started doing inspections. I had grown up in and around new homes; my dad and grandfather were builders. As my time as a builder went on, I became frustrated with both the decline in the work ethic I saw demonstrated daily and the constant battles required to get the guys working for me to really care about their craft. Could I get them to actually READ the product manuals for materials such as engineered joists? With rare exceptions, it just didn't happen. Even if they read the words, they largely did not understand the engineering principles. So I figured if I was fighting a seemingly single-handed battle for "the right way" and I was spending so much time telling people what they were doing wrong I might as well get paid for it.

Then we began to see the influx of workers from way south...as in south of Texas. Before you go off on me thinking this is a racist issue, it's not. It's an educational one. To put it bluntly, most "native" workers are poorly educated. Those from other countries are even less educated. Some rise above it and really accomplish something. Some don't. But almost universally, they are hard workers seeking a better opportunity. By the standards of their countries, they are doing well here. The average pay in Mexico works out to less than $3/hr.

The problem is they come here and no one gives them real educational training. The same mistakes are repeated from job to job. This applies even to simple things that you'd think were common sense...things like brick window sills without a slope to them. I've even seen them put lintels in consisting of two scrap pieces of angle iron. Even if they'd like to learn it's difficult to find a place to do so.

As a practical matter, many crews don't even have ONE worker fluent in English on the site at all times. How would even a conscientious builder explain the complexities of home construction and such subtle details as those required to minimize water penetration? The builders don't know the terminology in Spanish (sometimes not in English either) and the workers don't know the terminology in either language. Mistakes and failures are guaranteed.

So now we're seeing a flood of defects such as engineered products being installed incorrectly. Even conventional framing isn't immune. I can't count the number of laughably poor rafter-to-ridge joints I've seen lately.

Lest you think I'm not going to get in a lick on the builders, read on.

As I see it, they are responsible for what their name goes on and should be held to a higher standard than they are. The problem currently is that in all too many cases, THEY don't know what they are doing. How can they recognize defects perpetrated by others? Even more unfortunate is that many simply don't care. There are far too many that "build" by cell phone, rarely setting foot on a job. I would guess that most have never held an actual tool of any sort in their hands for more than 5 minutes. I could go on for hours about the boneheaded things I've heard from some of them.

One last thought. If you think our educational system (and parents) are not to blame, here's a story from my first new home construction site. I was fresh out of college, watching everything going on and soaking it up. On the roof, there were two newly minted high school graduates installing felt paper on the roof deck. It was an election year, and they began a discussion about politics. The topic evolved into how long a term in office the new president would have. Simple enough for a HS grad, right? Not so fast.

One was arguing for two years. The other said it was six. They eventually got around to asking me. I said "four years" and walked away since I was in danger of laughing.

After the briefest of pauses to weigh what I'd said, I heard them pick right back up arguing their same previous respective positions.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

. . . The original question: "Where do they come from." Perhaps this is a discussion, in part, about immigration?

I grew up working on construction sites. Most of the people I dealt with were immigrants -- mostly Italians. They spoke little English, but they did excellent work. They'd cut valley jacks with a handsaw and, once they were nailed onto the valley rafter, you couldn't slip a dollar bill into the joint because it was so tight. If anyone on one of those crews did something similar to what's in Phillip's photos, he'd have been (literally) smacked upside the head (or just fired).

Right now, I'm involved in a large construction project (180-unit care center) where the framing crew consists of 24 Mexican immigrants. They're doing an excellent job. They don't speak much English, but they work together like a machine. It's one of the best framing crews I've ever seen. I can't imagine any of them doing stuff like what's in Phillip's photos.

The problem with the stuff you describe and the stuff that's in Phillip's pictures is that it's done by unskilled labor. That's not necessarily synonymous with immigrant labor. It just seems that way because the unskilled immigrants are willing to work for less money than the unskilled Americans.

The discussion is really about economics.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I must make a distinction between immigrant labor and immigrant citizens.

I would concur with all the previous comments regarding the work ethic and quality issues with regard to immigrant crews.

More specifically, my commentary is with the immigrant population coupled with the rampant do-it-yourself mentality -- that's just a bad combination.

To put it a different way, the level of care and quality that the immigrant population brings can really reduce the "quality" of a home whether it be functional, structural or simply aesthetic.

I'm probably tip-toeing into dangerous territory with regard to a percieved prejudice on my part. There is none. I'm keeping the conversation on the simple reality that I'm seeing homes, almost on a weekly basis, that range from gauche and gaudy to simply dangerous.

P.S. I know, I know, us native folk aren't immune from gauche and gaudy either. There's enough dreadful design and bubba work across our land that's simply embarassing. Kurt M. gives a wonderful apt commentary on this issue. Maybe he'll chime in.

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