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Ask a building inspector (thread repost)

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Ask a building inspector (thread repost)

Postby momopi » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:04 pm

http://www.irvinehousingblog.com/blog/c ... 0-16-2010/

THE REAL STORY ABOUT YOUR HOME
Roger Banowetz, Retired City Building Inspector ICBO Certified, cell (714) 401-5980

First lesson: DON’T BE AFRAID OF YOUR NEW HOUSE

Hello my name is Roger Banowetz Retired City Building Inspector. Based on what I’ve read on this blog, and from the comments/concerns I’ve received from many of my clients, I would like to correct a lot of areas of misconceptions.

Some people mistakenly think that the new homes are not as good as the “good old daysâ€￾ when houses were much better built; well this is a big misconception. The homes in California are in a seismic zone #4, which is the most mobile dirt in the USA; as homes in the colder states are built to be warmer, here in our state we build to with stand the many earthquakes we have every week (some of which we don’t even feel but our homes do). So as a result, the homes built today are better built than in any time in our history; our design, materials and codes are just better, for example Foundations (the footprint of your home), the slab that supports your home and provides the floor on the first floor, the concrete we use now are now designed and engineered with more syntheses materials to increase strength and elasticity to the concrete, connections imbedded in the foundation to the framed walls.

Walls; framing members are built with “#2 grade or betterâ€￾ lumber combine that with the OSB “orient strand boardâ€￾ which is that wafer board that you see on all new building it is used for “sheer wallâ€￾ which is how we stabilize the building the more OSB we use the stronger the building it is, stack that up with the same method for the roof. Every time we install a window or a door we install metal straps and brasses and lastly the floors are built with “TGI “tongue and grove I-beamâ€￾ floor joistâ€￾ these are those flimsy wafer-board long panels, by themselves they are not vary strong but as a repetitive member they are the strongest diaphragm ever made,

Roofs; are built either conventional framing (built on site) or a truss system (Factory engineered and built), both are equally strong but the truss systems are much more popular and cost effective, the roof cover are designed to divert water and sun rays, the real moisture barrier is the 15 lbs tar-paper that is the underlayment for the roof tile.

Doors and windows; are designed to save energy and to be earthquake resistance.

Whereas back east there are homes two or three hundred years old, here in California were still looking to see how long our homes will last, because we are still building them, and if maintained in a normal manner, your home will last 150 years at least. If you have any questions, I can guide you though the “shark-investedâ€￾ waters of codes and the city system. Thank for taking the time to stop and read this message.



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Astute Observation by Chris
2010-10-16 08:30 PM
You obviously haven’t lived or bought a home in China before.

You want less govt intervention in building code, go to China. They’ll only intervene if their own pockets have not been **fulfilled**.

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Astute Observation by Kirk
2010-10-17 12:12 AM
Chris, I have worked for several think tanks and am an expert in the field Sinology, with a particular focus on infrastructure. The fact is that you don’t know what you are talking about. Regional building codes in China often require exposed wiring as insulated wiring is considered an “imperialist luxuryâ€￾ by the regulators. Building “inspectorsâ€￾ will come into your home and rip out your wiring if it is not up to code. This is very similar to how the City of Irvine will require a teardown of any unpermitted improvement to the structure of your home. I don’t need to move to China to enjoy third world living standards. I just need to move to Irvine.

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Astute Observation by Chris
2010-10-17 12:36 AM
“Building “inspectorsâ€￾ will come into your home and rip out your wiring if it is not up to code.â€￾

Bullshit. You obviously don’t know what the hell YOU’RE talking about. Since you’ve never been to China, you’re obviously talking as though you know more than some of the other folks like myself who actually know the inner links there.

Inspectors, as you would call them, sometimes don’t even take damn samples of parts actually being built by subcontractors around China. Inspections are done at a minimum, if any.

Builders would receive bids from subcons and hire them out to build. If problems arise, those subcons would not receive the last partial payments from the builders. Customers who bought shitty homes would have to fight it out with the subcons while the builders usually sit on the sideline.

Homeowners usually can go through HOA in delaying the project deposit payment that the county govt withheld from the builder from paying back to the builder until all the problems are resolved. The problem with this is that builders are usually influential within the govt (pocket moola…yeah baby) that they would have absolutely no problem in getting the project deposit payment back after selling a certain percentage of homes within that project.

Come on, provide me with more of your bullshit so that I can laugh at it.

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Astute Observation by FoolishRenter
2010-10-16 01:33 PM
I whole heartly agree with the building inspector. The electrical, plumbing, HVAC, structually, kitchen counter, cabinets, flooring ... are all better than 1950-1990 construction. 1940 was mostly depression quality unless you were wealthy. Too much wanting the good old days. They were old and not too good for most people. Most family of 5 to 7 lived in 1200 sf homes, if they were lucky. Food was semi-scare until the late 1960’s unless you owned a farm (the middle and lower class people were skinny those days). The good was upward mobility and being thankful that you survived WWII, Korean War, essentilly free education ....

Without building codes, the spec houses would be rotting from the inside out. The prospective homeowner doesn’t have the means to see what the sheetrock is covering. Bad wiring and plumbing are time bombs for the new homeowners.

Three cheers for building inspectors who do their jobs. Pay up front or pay later.

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Astute Observation by rkp
2010-10-17 08:25 AM
Roger- for me, the belief of it being better in the past comes from the lack of noise insulation. My parents live in a west LA 1930 house and my inlaws in an OC 1994 house built by standard pacific. In my parents, you just can’t hear each other even though the walls aren’t unusually thick. In my inlaws, not only can you hear everything, you can hear the plumbing! Whenever someone uses the upstairs bathroom, you can hear the water flowing through the pipes on the wall in the living room.

I am sure the 94 house is better from seismic sense but from quality of life, the 30 house is just better.

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Astute Observation by RKD
2010-10-17 07:34 PM
I agree with the noise issue. The paper thin walls in my 2001 Irvine home means I can hear flushing toilets, radios, and conversations in the next room.

The windows were junk, too, until we got vinyl upgrades. They look ugly, but at least we don’t hear road noise like we used to.

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Astute Observation by Roger Banowetz
2010-10-18 07:17 PM

Hi rkp I am not satisfied with the sound issue, today we have ½â€￾ drywall with insulation on the exterior Walls, I have always wanted developers to insulate inside wall, but they won’t.

Back in the 1900’s, 30’s and 40’s most of the homes were installed with a material called “beaver boardâ€￾ it is a very soft material, we use it today for sound walls, and most of the homes back then were Lath and plaster with wood slats “lathâ€￾ and this wall covering is about 1-1/2â€￾ thick, later the 50’s until now we use “Metal lathâ€￾ under plaster and some stucco, these covering are much harder and not very sound resistant.

I grew up in a one story lath and plaster home and our lath was made of button board (drywall with holes in it to hold the plaster, our walls were about 1-3/4 in. thick and we still heard the shower, toilets, and my sister’s radio, just not as clear.
There are materials to better sound proof your home check the internet. Thanks—-Roger

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Astute Observation by Swiller
2010-10-17 09:37 AM
Roger did you know Don Plowman? When did you retire? I’ve been around a few years….anyone remember this? I sure do.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Irvine inspectors under suspicion
Building officials accused of taking material, soliciting investments.

By JEFF ROWE
The Orange County Register

IRVINE - City officials are awaiting separate reports from an outside investigator and the Police Department on allegations that include building inspectors’ acceptance of gifts and solicitation of funds for investments.

The report from the firm should be complete in a few weeks, said Judy Pal, a city spokeswoman.

Among the allegations: Inspectors accepted “giftsâ€￾ of building materials and tried to sell investments to people whose properties they were inspecting.

Police said they are conducting their own “professional and thoroughâ€￾ investigation of the city’s building inspector department.

One building inspector, Don Plowman, resigned Monday, the city confirmed. The city declined to comment on Plowman, and he couldn’t be reached for comment.

A former city building inspector says the department has been troubled for years.

Two years ago, one of the city’s building inspectors agreed to pay a fine and perform 40 hours of community service for accepting bricks from a builder he was inspecting. “He took the position they were ‘throwaways,’â€￾ said Tom Crofoot, deputy district attorney. Crofoot said accepting the bricks was “contrary to the policy of the building departmentâ€￾ and a “conflict of interest.â€￾

David Diamond was that inspector, and he still works for the city. He says he wishes he had never taken the bricks, although he insists they were being discarded. But he said he paid for his mistake with the suspension. Misdemeanor charges a year later that added community service and a fine amounted to double jeopardy, he said.

Potentially more serious allegations came from Chicago-based W. E. O’Neil Construction Co., which was building a car dealership in Irvine. Robbie Robinson, the supervisor on the project, said the city building inspector asked for a $2 million investment in a recreation site proposed for the Imperial Valley. Robinson said he understood the implication was that the inspection would go more smoothly if O’Neil were to invest in the project. The company called police.

Irvine employs a chief building inspector and 14 senior inspectors; it also uses 17 other inspectors on a contract basis. Last year that team made 125,000 inspections.


Allegedly (LOL)....Don Plowman was the Senior Building Inspector for the Irvine Spectrum. He took cash and building materials on a daily basis. In fact he had a Materials Yard set up in the parking lot of the spectrum, over where the Target is now that when he would come by for an inspection of your space, he would put his materials order in and you were to deposit it at the Materials Yard on X date or you would not get a favorable inspection any inspection next time. He had his ‘Own’ little Kingdom running out there for many years….he finally got his. Oh and there were a few others that got the ‘Axe’ as well.

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Astute Observation by Roger Banowetz
2010-10-17 07:33 PM
BROVO to you to have such a fine touch on the latest news. I agree to all that you have said, I don’t agree with this is the buiding inspector trade in every org. and in every org. thair are bad apples, and I agree that everybody is accountable and every dept. shuld be looked it often.
.So brovo to you, but you only looked at a few and you try to paint with a wide brush, that’s why you are with the regester ( my dog won’t even wet on the regester, I take the times)
Thank you—A proud City Building Inspector—-Roger

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Astute Observation by Bitter Renter
2010-10-18 04:41 PM
Thanks for sharing the inside (alleged) scoop on how Plowman did things at The Spectrum, Swiller. That’s truly horrifying that that was allowed to go on for so long, if true.

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Astute Observation by Tore P.
2010-10-18 11:48 AM
Good point from Vincenzo about fire being more of a concern for our houses than EQ (even during during an EQ). As a structural engineer I also disagree that meeting the latest codes and standards equals improvement.

After a big national event (Katrina, Northridge, Loma Prieta E.Q) we try to make significant improvements. After that, complacency creeps in and industry lobbying will in certain cases lower material standards and building codes. The big players do not want rule changes that can change their market or market share and will in most cases resist attempts at raising the bar.

Remember that most or all contractors will use the most economical approved solution throughout the project. Even counterfeit items have become a problem: (http://enr.construction.com/products/ma ... oods-1.asp)

Homeowners have told me about serious plumbing and foundation issues in 10-15 year old tract homes in Newport Coast!? I am sure they met code and I’m also certain they used the cheapest alternative out there (e.g. thinnest wall thickness pipe). The savings add up when you are multiplying the houses by the 100’s.

The inspectors have a difficult job, but I doubt any of these tract homes will last half of his estimated life. But who knows what Irvine will look like then..

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Astute Observation by Bitter Renter
2010-10-18 04:50 PM
Hmm, my first attempt to reply to this post seems to have disappeared—will try again.

Tore, thanks for your post. I’ve read too many horror stories of owners of recent construction who had major problems that needed addressing within a few years to believe Roger’s claim that improved building standards (which I will agree include some very significant benefits in the seismic arena) equal higher quality and durability across the board. I also have to wonder about the attention to detail of someone who can’t even manage to spell such simple words as “thereâ€￾ and “veryâ€￾ correctly when writing to a public forum. Thanks again for offering your contrasting professional opinion.

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momopi
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Postby NorthAmericanguy » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:37 am

I use to hang out in Irvine. The city is beautiful, but it's too expensive because its like one family/company (when you follow the paper trail) that owns all the developments!!

I'm pretty sure this is the company that owns most of IRVINE. And the money then flows to some family in the Hollywood hills: http://www.irvinecompany.com/


Anyhow, I work on homes for a living and the new homes are CRAP (but they look nice)! In fact, I would not buy a home built after 1950-60 here in the states.

Wow! Just in my area of PA a whole newly built condominium had to be condemned because the building was built with such poor quality it was a danger to all the occupants. All the people lost their down payment that they saved up for.

Here is the link:
http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?secti ... id=7451603
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Postby momopi » Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:38 pm

Northamericanguy wrote:I use to hang out in Irvine. The city is beautiful, but it's too expensive because its like one family/company (when you follow the paper trail) that owns all the developments!!

I'm pretty sure this is the company that owns most of IRVINE. And the money then flows to some family in the Hollywood hills: http://www.irvinecompany.com/


Did you ever visit the Wild Lion Safari Park when it was here in late 80s? Unfortunately it's long gone with Marine Land and others. :(

The Irvine Company used to be wholly owned by the Irvine family, but as time went on they gradually sold their shares. The family's cook would rather relocate to Knotts Berry Farm and run the chicken restaurant there. The current owner of Irvine Company is Don Bren, who used to own Mission Viejo and later sold it to buy Irvine. When the Irvine family still owned Irvine, they were pretty nice and donated land to build UCI and constructed nice communities like Woodbridge. Although Woodbridge is a high density development, its layout, lakes, and landscaping made it an award winning master-planned community. Even today, you can walk around and not feel cramped in that neighborhood. I live in Oak Creek HOA, which is next to Woodbridge (South), and my community looks like a condo plex compared to Woodbridge's park like settings.

When Don Bren bought out all the shares in Irvine company, he brought his high-density development mentality to Irvine and the result is obvious. Compare Turtle Rock to Westpark and Woodbury. The newly built Woodbury community has the highest density here and feels like a giant apartment complex. If you want to buy a real house on 7,000+ sq ft lot there, it'd cost you $1 million. For less than that, you can buy a lake side home in Lake Forest 15 minuets away, with far better landscaping.


Lake Forest:
Image

Woodbridge, Irvine:
Image

Woodbury, Irvine
Image
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Postby NorthAmericanguy » Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:47 pm

^^ You know a lot about the area. And no, I was not around in the 80's. I got there in 2001.

I do know about a military air force base that use to be out that way and from what I hear the cancer rates jumped up because people found out they dumped chemicals in the aquifers.
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