50 year old horse with a sway-back to match---time for the glue factory.

By
Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

In older homes that were what we call “stick-built,” finding roofs that sag a bit is not uncommon.

Sometimes this sagging is cosmetic---other times repairs are called for to prevent actual collapse of the roof.

As you can see in the following picture this old horse had quite a sag in half of the roof (from the chimney to the end of the house).  The portion that was not sagging was over the vaulted kitchen and living room areas---and was well supported by an adequate beam for the span.  The back half of the home, where the bedrooms and bathrooms were, was framed conventionally with a ridge board and rafters.  The ridge board was made of two pieces that butted together in the middle.  This span was way too long to rely on a single 2x6 board to support the roof---even if it was not spliced.  There should have been intermediate supports for the ridge beam in at least the middle where the splice was.

Sagging Roof

So for 50 years this roof has been settling---a little more every year just under its own weight, seasonal snow loads and additional layers of roofing materials.

It is not unusual to have an unsupported ridge boards---about all the ridge board does is to give the builder a way to assemble the rafters and to space the rafters.  It would be “possible” to build the roof without it---just like we do with trusses which have no ridge boards---but it would be considerably more difficult.  Once the roof is sheathed and the framing is complete the ridge board really does not serve much function and is not relied upon to support the roof structurally.

This is all especially true of roofs that are fairly steep---like 6/12 and steeper.  These roofs will usually have collar ties and/or intermediate knee-wall structures to assist in supporting the roof to resist sagging.  As roofs become flatter these intermediate supports become even more critical and in most cases you would probably want to support the ridge board to prevent sagging.

It is not rocket science that this very low pitched roof needed more support---and fortunately will be a very easy fix for any experienced framing contractor.  The roof was leaking at the time of inspection so making repairs in conjunction with the roof replacement was recommended.

This old horse was not really ready for the glue factory---or even to be put out to pasture after all.

Now if you want to see a horse that IS ready for the glue factory take a look at this next picture.

Sway back roof

This shed at a neighbor's house, near where I live, has been this way for at least 16 years---leaving me to conclude that a garbage can on top of Grandma's old Desoto sedan must be what is holding up the roof.

 

Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector

 

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Rainmaker
630,121
Don Rogers
Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield - O'Fallon, MO
Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes

Charles,

That old horse in the bottom picture looks like a stiff breeze could blow it over.

Feb 23, 2011 01:01 PM #8
Rainer
39,955
Dale Ganfield
Leland, NC

Hi Charles, there you go you using your inspectors's x-ray vision again to see whats inside the walls of the old barn.  Or maybe you just peaked in one of the many cracks in the wall.   Great post.  Thanks

Feb 23, 2011 01:54 PM #9
Rainer
170,234
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

That old horse is already gone. It's already composting in place (slow oxidization). If you could find a dry bit you could just up the rate to rapid oxidization (fire).

Feb 23, 2011 02:46 PM #10
Ambassador
1,103,706
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Don, that is why it needs the Desoto Sedan :)

Dale, some day I will have to take a peek and report back

Robert I am sure in the dry season the rapid oxidization could work

Feb 23, 2011 03:47 PM #11
Rainmaker
549,523
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Give it more time ... the Desoto will rust and its wrapper will come down.

Feb 23, 2011 04:29 PM #12
Rainmaker
642,785
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

That's a couple of broke backs. That shed must have air beams holding up the roof.

Feb 23, 2011 04:32 PM #13
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Cynthia, maybe so :)

Jim, do you think I should have run a little contest to see who could come up with the best reason the building is still standing?

Feb 23, 2011 04:44 PM #14
Rainer
170,234
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

An engineer acquaintance of mine who i worked with for many years (commercial renovation), would say it's still standing from or due to one particular force of nature. That of course is the force of habit!

Feb 23, 2011 05:53 PM #15
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Paul Henderson
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
I always put my clients first in any transaction!

Sometimes under agent remarks you see may need new roof and the roof looks worse than the one pictured. We call it full disclosure...

Feb 23, 2011 06:36 PM #16
Rainmaker
379,507
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Charlie,

I love the shed how the siding has moved. Kinda art deco I think. It really is amazing sometimes how forgiving these building can be, then boom!

Feb 23, 2011 07:51 PM #17
Rainmaker
229,429
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Home Inspections

"seasonal snow loads" ?  What, like an inch? ;)

Feb 23, 2011 09:41 PM #18
Rainer
109,107
Stephen Stanczyk
Safe Haven Home Inspections - Puyallup, WA
Home Inspector - Puyallup WA

A DeSoto?  We may be the only one's on here that have even seen one.  How is the weather up north?  We only got about 3-4 inches today in the South Sound.

Feb 24, 2011 04:20 AM #19
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539,407
Lynn B. Friedman
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- Concierge Service - Atlanta, GA
Timesaving Strategies for Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Dear Charles,

Always count on you to start my day with humor.

I agree with Paul (#16) about remarks about some homes!  What are people thinking when they write remarks?

For the house my Clients just put under contract, in order to meet the "due diligence" deadline,  we have to try someone new this time.  (My usual inspector is unavailable (due to CE).  I try to stay with the same sub-contractors when I can - over six years with him!)  Sought out lots of recommendations and am really pleased with the opportunity to work with her - yes - this is a female inspector!

Have a happy day -
Lynn

 

Feb 24, 2011 07:03 AM #20
Rainmaker
1,268,009
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I, for one, would really like the house intended for the glue factory.  Can you make it so?

 

Very kindly,

 

Croakster

Feb 24, 2011 08:04 AM #21
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Robert I think "habit" and "catastrophic" may be related

Paul, you gotta love "full disclosure":)

Don, for sure

Reuben, we had a heavy inch of snow last night :)

Stephen, I think we are not the only oldfarts on here :)

Lynn, there is absolutely no reason women can't make good home inspectors---we have two women in our upcoming training class

Croakster, I am sure you could come here and the owner would never know

Feb 24, 2011 11:25 AM #22
Rainer
170,234
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Charles think in terms of breaking the habit. Catastrophic would be the accelerated collapse.

Feb 24, 2011 11:30 AM #23
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Feb 24, 2011 12:14 PM #24
Rainmaker
1,184,488
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Dear Mr Charles,

I have a serious interest in submitting an offer on that second place. Very sweet deal. My movie royalties are burning a hole in my pocket.

Nutsy

Feb 24, 2011 03:04 PM #25
Rainmaker
1,184,488
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr Charles,

I do not take to being begnored and I walk all roofs and skylights

Nutsy

Feb 26, 2011 04:23 PM #26
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

But Nutsy, you are my favorite critter to ignore

Feb 26, 2011 04:38 PM #27
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