View Full Version : Need Help! Framers/Builders, please help!

11-21-2009, 01:17 PM
I discovered a condition with my 5 yr old home today that I'd like to understand from framers or builders as to whether it's a "normal" condition, or something that should have been remedied at construction.

As mentioned above, I purchased my home new 5 yrs ago from a local builder. The home had a warranty that is now expired, but I've discovered a condition that does not seem normal to me and I'd like to call the builder to resolve but need advice.

The past two winters we've noticed a mouse problem in our unfinished basement, but nothing in the upper two levels, main floor and second floor. So today, I set out to try and find out how they were getting in and thought I could seal the area...assumed it was a gap around a vent, pipe, etc. But what I found was even more startling.

I discovered that (forgive my terms, I'm not a builder but hope you understand what I mean) my subfloor platform on at least two sides of the home extends by 1-2 inches beyond the sill plate (from the exterior of the home you can actually extend your fingers up and under the siding and sheathing, into this gap and into the interior of the basement). I pulled the insulation back that was placed between the floor joists and on the top of the foundation in the basement and light comes flooding into the area between the joists. In both cases which I discovered (and i did not search the entire perimeter) this occurs in a corner...I assume the subfloor platform was extended over in an effort to square the corner. But if this were the case, should the sill plate not have extended out as well?

Is this something that would be considered a building defect vs. a warranty item and perhaps something I can hold the builder, even 5 years later, responsible to remedy.

In either way, what is the best way to remedy the issue? I began to spray the can foam insulation in several of the areas, but quickly realized the gaps in some cases were too large and in some areas I couldn't get the can and nozel to fit.

All advice/suggestions are welcome!


11-21-2009, 01:26 PM
Re above, I used the term subfloor platform, but I guess what I really meant that are the joists and header/rim joists extend beyond the sill plate.

Hope that helps to understand

11-21-2009, 04:09 PM
poor const.

11-21-2009, 04:16 PM
Call your local building inspector and ask him---there has to be a building code covering this.Where do you live?

11-21-2009, 06:18 PM
Live in waukesha county. I checked it out further and the 1-2" i described above isn't too accurate. there is a gap large enough to stick fingers in though...1/2-3/4".

Understandably poor construction. And unfortunately in the price range this house was in, you wouldn't expect that...also from a fairly reputable builder in the entire SE WI area.

11-21-2009, 07:07 PM
I have read you problem a few times and I think I understand your issue. The problem was probably due to the concrete foundation walls out of square. The builder had to build the home square in order to accommodate the blueprint. When I was on a framming crew we often would find the concrete walls out of square but not as bad as you are describing. It may or may not be a structural problem depending on joist size. Often walls cantilever(extend beyond wall) to accept a bay window, walk out, or even and entire exterior wall. My last house I cantilevered the back wall 20" to extend the depth of the second floor for more footage. The problem right now is that this cantilever (concrete error) was not part of the originally design and therefore not built correctly. I sheet and r-board cantilevered areas to prevent critters and insulate for air infiltration. personally I don't believe you have a serious structural problem but none the less the exterior wall should be sitting on the concrete to accept the load of the walls and the roof. Now the joists are taking the brunt where the box sill is off the green sill plate. Ideally the builder should have not accepted the bogus concrete job and not built upon but maybe he did the Crete also so a big loss could have been an issue.

Remedy- rip down some osb or plywood and nail it on. If there is not room to do this on the exterior than go into basement and cut some solid blocking and in stall between joist bay. probably need to use 2x8 so you can get a swing at the nails or get a nail gun in there.

If you wanna find out if the concrete is out of square, go down in the basement and pull some measurements on parallel walls and see if they are the same, I bet they're not.

If I didn't understand your problem correctly than I am way off. call me if need be,

Lenny 906-883-3137

11-21-2009, 07:43 PM
yaa got some extra square footage 4 free

11-21-2009, 09:57 PM
lenny is on the right track.

However, after you nail OSB or Styrofoam on the outside, buy some gutter flashing, bend it to a full 90 degrees and tuck it up behind the siding and push up to the OSB or Styrofoam. It'll keep the critters or rain from eating through.

Chances are, you're in a a home made with wall panels. The "Deck" must be framed to the size on the print or else the walls won't fit properly... Since they almost always are done before the deck is even framed. You can "bury" an out-of-square foundation on a custom framed home, it just sucks when you get to the roof and things aren't parallel or square. Enter roof trusses... http://www.johndee.com/discuss/clipart/happy.gif

Best of luck,


11-21-2009, 11:32 PM

Based on your feedback, I think you do understand the issue. The two areas where I found the problem are not the result of a cantilevered window, floor, etc. If you could see it, I believe it should be obvious that the header or rim joists should have been flush to the sill plate and foundation.

The foundation is not poured concrete but rather, block. Prior to buying this house I had moved from another part of the country where I had never seen a block foundation. However, in Waukesha Co., WI, I quickly found it was common among builders (I'm guessing it's cheaper than pouring concrete???). I did measure in two places as you suggested and do find about a 1/2" difference in about a 24' run.

Applying OSB or styro to the exterior may prove more difficult than your alternate suggestion of installing blocking in the joist bays. A 2x8 width is sufficient to close the gap.

I'm going to call the builder Monday and see if I can get him to come out and look at the problem firsthand. I guess I'll see then how motivated/interested he is to correct the issue and what advice he gives to solve.

I also agree with you that it probably doesn't pose any real structural problem, but when you spend over a half mill on a house, I guess I expected more, or at least not to find elementary errors such as this.

Thanks again guys for the help.

11-22-2009, 08:20 AM
By all means call the builder first! He needs to see and address the problem, my guess is he will send a guy over right away to correct the problem.

11-22-2009, 08:57 AM
jpsted, lenny pretty much hit the nail on the head.I have been in the trades, for over 20yrs. and used to build million dollar custom built homes it happens all the time, but should have been caught and fixed right away! Like mikeh906 said call the biulder, and if he is reputable, will solve the problem right away.Usually block foundations are more square than poured ones. If the builder will not do anything for you, let me know, and would try to come up there and fix the prob. for you!

11-22-2009, 10:40 AM
Thanks Snoseekr, I appreciate the offer and help. I'll keep the thread updated after I talk with the builder.

11-22-2009, 01:03 PM

If I were you, I would get a hold of a structural engineer first and get his opinion. If your rim joist is hanging 2" over the sill plate, you have more than half your load bearing wall sitting on NOTHING! At the very least, you should install "squash blocks" ( http://www.webjoist.com/Product_Guide_Joist/WEB-i%20Page%2008.pdf). These are normally only used with I-Joists, but if your rim joist is not on the plate....YOU NEED THEM!

Personally, if I paid over $500K for a house and it had a CMU foundation, I'd be pissed. Moreover, a house of that cost/size/caliber, has no business being built that poorly. Sounds like another case of "Hey, I got a pick-up truck and a wheelbarrow, I MUST BE A CONTRACTOR!"

Use the leverage of the structural engineers report to get your builder to address this issue. If he doesn't, you have a lawsuit on your hands and the loser will pay. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done at this point to correct the structural issue(short of maybe bolting angle iron to the block for support). This should have been caught by the framing foreman AND The building inspector.

You are entitled to some sort of compensation from one or both of them and make sure you stand your ground. There is absolutely no excuse for this and it pissing me off that it continues to happen to good people.

With any luck, this poor economy will weed out the so-called "builders" that were going around making these kind of errors. After being a third generation builder for 20 years, I can honestly say that we NEVER left errors in construction of any structural magnitude. I loath these pickup truck/wheelbarrow guys and hope they all lose their own business' over it. Fuhkrz.

A home is typically the most expensive investment a person will make in their lives, and for someone to provide that to us at a profit means they should be qualified to do so. It always pissed me off that the roofer needs to be licensed, but the general/carpenter contractor doesn't.

Best of luck and stand your ground. Your problem is "wrong" and it must be corrected.


11-22-2009, 02:33 PM
Thanks Prop. I over stated the 2" overhang, more likely 3/4".

Prior to purchasing the home I paid to have the home inspected. I'll have to dig out the information as I'm not certain of the credentials this engineer would have possessed or the types of issues that he should have been responsible for discovering.

I'm going to at least start with the builder and get a feel for their attitude towards providing a remedy. If I don't sense cooperation I will quickly escalate this to other agencies and if necessary take legal action.

I tend to believe the builder will cooperate, I'm just debating what my expectations of him should be. I was planning on asking him for something written as to the likely cause of the error and his proposal to remedy. That way I can have reviewed for second opinion. Also considered hiring an engineer of my choice as Prop suggested and asking the builder to pay for the independent opinion and possible solution. My guess is they'll not want to go this route, incur the expense and perhaps have to deal with an opinion they may not like.

I'm going to try and get some pics to show you guys.

Thanks again for all the suggestions...keep them coming if you think of anything additional.


11-22-2009, 05:50 PM
jpsted, the problem area, are the floor joists running 90 degrees to concrete wall or are they running parallel to this rim joist that is off the sill plate. If the floor joists are running parallel with the rim joist that is off the sill plate than as projockey stated, that's a problem. If they are running 90 degrees to the rim joists in question than at least you have this rim joist fastened to the floor joists which would carry the load because they are sitting on the sill plate,but running parallel could be a very serious issue that would for sure need to be rectified. Wow, I'd love to see some pics of this

A retangular typical 2 story commonly has the floor joists running front to back because the front to back span is lesser than the width so on the front and back walls, the floor joists would be on the sill plate and the side walls the rim joist/ box sill sits directly on the sill also. Got any pictures?

11-22-2009, 07:10 PM
The bottom line is the work that was done is poor, If he has any reputation in the area of being a good builder he will fix the problem.
You do not have a structural issue, but the downside is there is no great fix for your problem. in my opinion whatever they are going to do will be a bandaid at best. Good luck, I'd love to here how the builder responds

11-22-2009, 08:53 PM

The joists run parallel to the concrete wall. The last joist, closest to the concrete wall, falls 4" inside the wall. From there there are tails...I don't know what to call them...joists that are cut 14" and run perpendicular to the joist just inside the wall. These tails are what hang over the sill plate.

I've taken some pics and will try to upload for you to see to what I am referring.


11-22-2009, 09:20 PM
The first picture shows the joists running parallel to the concrete wall in question, which is the wall in the right of the picture. You can also see the "tails" to which I refer and that are 14 inches long. When I looked closer at the tails, they are are attached by one penny nail in the top and bottom, no brackets or anything on the inside of the joists. Seems an odd way to do the last 14 inches of the wall.


The second pic is shot inside one of the joist bays...you can see the pink styro which is on the outside, thus visible due to the gap. The gap in that particular area is about 1/2 inch.


11-22-2009, 10:29 PM
well, it's good to see the 14" "tails" in there. They sit on the sill plate and receive load from the above exterior wall. Is it right? Not be design but probably adequate in my opinion. It "seems" to be a reasonable fix to an unfortunate error

The reason you see a few nails to attach the "tails" to the I-joists is because the vertical part of the joist is a osb type material which is not great for biting power of nails. Honestly that doesn't seem to concerning, again, in my opinion.

Basically I see the "tails" acting as a "cantilever" in all practicalness. In LaSalle County Illinois, code says the amount of cantilever on the outside has to be 3 times greater extending in on the inside if my memory serve me correctly. We know you don't have an actual cantilevered floor plan but the same concept applies. It just seems to be an practical way to describe the situation.

This wall is probably NOT carrying a roof load? Meaning the roof rafters are running the same direction as the floor joists. Wall studs sit on top of floor joists directly and roof rafters sit on top on wall studs to directly carry loads and disperse to proper lumber dimension (typical framming)

If I were an inspector I would probably see the "tails" as adequate support.

I am at the end of my abilities to offer further insight as this now gets into engineering details (I am no engineer) and I hope you can get some good expert advise that serves both you and the builder with no compromise to either party. I hope I was of some assistance.

Good luck bud and keep us posted as to the outcome!

11-22-2009, 10:38 PM
oh yea, you have I joist floor joist which are engineered and considered to be superior in many ways. Seeing them makes me think the builder did things to build a higher quality house and often you will see 2x6 exterior walls in this "higher end" homes. If so, the greater wall thickness offsets the "error" to some degree because more of it sitting on the "tails" which in turn is on the sill plate and ultimately on the block wall instead of what we were thinking earlier when we didn't know the "tails" were in place.

Without those tails, the structure would be compromised for sure as propjockey noted.

Sorry for all the babbling but thought that was worth mentioning

11-22-2009, 10:51 PM
The tails are wall support bridging. As long as you don't find anything beyond an inch or so, I don't think there is anything structurally wrong other than a bit sloppy workmanship.

I think you will find that the solid pieces cut to fit the span between the floor joists, and extending out to the outer wall sheathing will be adequate to stop mice from getting in. The styrofoam won't stop mice, as they can easily eat right thru it. If you can find a bit of j channel material to cover that gap on the outside, I would do that too.

This isn't really a big deal, as others have witnessed, it does happen out in the stick build building business. It should have been addressed when it was built, but it certainly isn't unusual that it wasn't caught.

You just want to stop wind from entering and mice and crickets. Bit time consuming to put those pieces in, but even osb cut in strips will do the job...just make it tight as you can and fill any tiny gaps with some good spray foam. Use boarding first then fill the smallest cracks with foam. You should be fine.

11-22-2009, 11:00 PM
If the rim joist is hanging completely outside of the sill, you need to install squash blocks. In fact, if the roof is framed conventionally and you have a bearing wall directly above the steel beam in your basement, you should have squash blocks there as well.

Good to see your running a pair of 90+ furnaces!


11-23-2009, 12:32 AM
Thanks for all the feedback guys, I'm beginning to feel a bit better about this, but do have a couple questions based on your comments.

Lenny, you are correct, this is a two story over the area in question, but the roof rafters do run the same direction. You say that this was probably not by design...is this particular application(using the tails) not one you would normally use unless doing a full cantilever? Also, today i found the same issue (gap to exterior and elements) on the wall on the opposite side of the house, but parallel to this wall...and the same "tail" application is used. But in this area, the tails are not spaced as closely together, perhaps because above this area is only a single story???

anonomoose, you said the tails are "wall support bridging", can you elaborate a bit more as to what that means? And same question for you as lenny, is this a normal application in your opinion?

prop, it does not appear to me that there is a rim joist on this wall. It looks only like the tails are covered by the OSB sheathing as you can see in the pic above. I guess I wasn't concerned about that until you mentioned it. The link you provide for the squash block also shows the joists meeting sheathing in the first diagram...should rim joist have been used. I will definitely bring up the squash blocks to the builder when we discuss.

Thanks again guys for all your help!

11-23-2009, 10:40 AM
Wow, just talked to the building inspector who was responsible for the home during construction...was he hesitant and uneasy discussing!

Of course he said my first recourse is to contact the builder as well. We'll see how this goes.

11-23-2009, 05:07 PM
jp, I think I would first contact a rep from a I-joist manufacturer and get a non biased opinion. if the builder was okay with the fix that you have now than I would be hesitant to get him involved again till you can say for sure with 100% certainty what is the correct fix. maybe it is right now, it is possible but you can get a rep to give you the correct advise. Were all a bunch of framers not engineers so hold off on the builder or he will most likely send a lackey over there and squirt some caulk in there and call it good. Seriously, consider non-biased professional advise from the manufacturer. Just my .02 cents, well, maybe a few bucks by now

11-23-2009, 05:26 PM
Wall support bridging is extra support for anywhere a framing wall of any type is placed over something other than the joist. Since the flooring is not designed to hold wall weight, and should be placed where possible over a joist, the open span between the joists is beefed up. This is most often done on interior walls of most stick built homes because sometimes walls just don't land on a joist, and a wall above runs the same way as the unlying joist but does NOT lay over it. 90 degree walls don't have this problem, because they will get support every 18 inches or so.

If this bridging is done correctly, it strengthens the floor enough to take the additional wall weight.

Since you have trusses in the flooring running 90 degrees to your "area" in question, there is likely to be very little support required on this wall other than basic enclosure type framing. Never-the-less, the amount of support provided needs to have at least 50% of the wall support under it to handle the load. You have indicated that there is 1/2 to 3/4 inch open space which can mean either there IS most of the plate covered, or there is NO coverage at all.

If MOST of the plate is covered it will still handle the load. If NO coverage on the supporting wall is over the sill, then IF the above is not a main weight baring wall, and IF the wall was beefed up with bridging, it could still handle the light duty load.

Since you find that there is half as many bridges on the single story side as on the two story side, I am guessing you have found out that the wall does not carry the main load on either end, and was bridged correctly to satisfy the weight loads.

Only an engineer could give total satisfaction to you about the long term support prospects of this wall, but I am betting that though this is a bit sloppy work, you won't need additional blocking or other support, even If the rim joist is hanging completely outside of the sill.

Modular homes are built this way all the time, to haul down the road and slap the two pieces together when they get to where they are going.

This is NOT the typical stick built process..as evidenced by the trussing in the basement. These outside walls carry minimal weight loads, and the two opposite walls carry all necessary loads for the roof and the upper story of the home. These walls are merely enclosed. Think of this as a giant tent. Center support is by means of the two sides of the tent (walls) and this carries the load. The front and back of the tent are simply enclosed, and more or less hang from those points that carry the main load.

11-23-2009, 06:00 PM
I had similar issues with a house in Manitowoc county. I used a structural engineer to come and give my a report when I was selling the house. He was out of Mequon, I will see if I can find his name if you want.

11-23-2009, 06:13 PM
schrade, simple and honest reply, where were you earlier when he first posted the thread, lol.

I kinda regret all the info I threw out there because without knowing the In's and outs of I-joist floor systems, were just speculating. Sure there are common similarities compared to conventional framing but the I-joist dudes will know for sure.

I'm kinda thinking that this type of I-joist doesn't use a rim joist per say because of the irregular shape creating a fastening problem in this particular location. be interesting to see what is proper.

11-23-2009, 06:16 PM
Just curious, why the tin on the bottom of the floor over the two pvc pipes? I assume those are for the furnance or hot water heater but they don't get that hot do they?

11-23-2009, 08:09 PM
Yama...metal is precaution for a furnace gone amuck. The idea is to create a minimum heat barrier from the combustible flooring. Close tolerance runs require this in many states now. I believe (but not sure) that runs that aren't running down between joists, still don't require it. Just another sort of nonsensical requirement that really doesn't accomplish much but doesn't cost that much to do, so builders do it and grumble little about the added cost. Sort of like double drywalling the living area exposure in the garage which is attached. It "might" prevent fire from getting into the rest of the house from the garage, if you had a car fire...course, if the gasoline in the car ignites, and explodes, what's the point??

11-23-2009, 09:31 PM
Getting in here a little late, but my house was custom built as well (approx. 6 yrs ago). I have the insulated concrete form poured walls (ICF for short). They have 2" rigid insulation with plastic ties to form the walls then they just pour the concrete and walla - instant foundation. However, I found the same problem. They over hung the I-joists to the outside of the insulation, but did not properly cap the rim. Perfect mouse house. I too called the inspector to see why "HE" didn't catch this upon inspection. He claims they can't catch every little thing. I asked what he could do, and he just basically told me he issued the occupancy permit and that is as far as he will go. Because your wall runs perpendicular to the I-joists, the load is spread out. I just filled the void with Great Stuff, and the mice have not been back. It also stopped the draft in the basement. It looks like you shouldn't have to worry about structural issues, but then again I am no engineer. Paying that much money for a home, little things like that can get you worked up a lot. I could go into a whole list of "other" things that were wrong with my house - THAT THE VILLAGE INSPECTOR SHOULD HAVE SEEN - but then I'd end up with writers cramp.

Best advice, have an outside engineer look at it, then get all your ducks in a row before you contact the builder. With the warranty out, he might just tell you you're out of luck and for a fee I could take care of that. Then you'll know whether to tell him your lawyer will be contacting him. Just my 2 cents.

11-23-2009, 09:57 PM
Alot 2 doo about nothing yaa can doo .Yaa must have noo other real issues or doo yaa .It comes down to a lazy or got 2 go deer hunting got no time contractor.I have seen alot of that bs contractor on 3rd wife got 2 have a beer and go hunting contractor so deal with it when yaa live in cheeseland.

11-23-2009, 11:31 PM
I did hire a structural engineer today. We discussed briefly over the phone and for the fee being charged, it is worth my piece of mind for him to come out and charge me to determine I have no structural issues. At a minimum he will make a recommendation as how to best seal the areas.

From our discussion, I think the engineer was thinking along the lines of what anonomoose has been discussing...perhaps sloppy but likely no structural issues.

Will let you know what I find out. Appreciate all the comments and advice thus far.

11-24-2009, 10:10 AM
Sorry for coming in late. I truly apologize. I was actually deer hunting when this post first started. I will refrain from any more input. Once again I apologize.

11-24-2009, 12:36 PM
was the house built by Bielinski?

11-24-2009, 12:49 PM
schrade, I was just being sarcastic in a good way. I am glad you posted because it was wise. You know what I mean, sorry if I came across as literal. I would never be rude to someone posting. Sorry for coming across wrong.

you da man!

11-24-2009, 03:10 PM
no, not a Bielinski...but that is definitely the type of B.S. they would do as well!

11-25-2009, 09:24 AM
This whole post reads like a 500 page novel describing how to replace a burned out light bulb. So I guess i'll add my page. LOL
As the tradesmen on here have stated, this type of thing happens all the time. A foundation gets built out of square and is then discovered by the carpenter. Very seldom will you see the foundation torn out due to tremendous cost involved.
So in comes the carpenter. The carpenter is trained to remedy these problems in the framing process. He also is bound by a competitive bid to get the house built on time and under budget.
Short of stopping the building process and getting the block wall replaced,(NOT LIKELY)
the carpenter will go ahead and build you a square house on a crooked foundation.
BUT, in this case the carpenter did not follow through with the cure, by making sure the part of the structure that extended over the foundation was properly sealed.
I think that this "offset" to the foundation was so negligable that it went undiscovered until the mice made a closer investigation necessary.
IMHO, getting overly upset with this condition is not needed, as neither is getting a structural engineer involved.
As others have stated, this is not a structural problem but is instead a weather seal problem.
Contact me if you want to, I am in your area, and would be happy to help out a fellow JD sledhead,