Does it matter if the floor's out of level/flat?

It depends on how far it’s out of level/flat, because they are *all *out of level and none of them are flat. It’s just a matter of scale, and whether the amount it’s out is offensive to the buyer.


What post were you replying too?

I was making an observation, Greg.

Or… my own! What does it mean when you ask and answer your own questions? Time to get a life for a while.

Good question. Spoke to an inspector this week who is expecting a lawsuit after a return visit to a site to look at a floor that is crowned. No big deal in the opinion of the inspector and a general contractor who accompanied him on the return visit, but a flooring contractor wants to rip up the harwood floor, the subfloor, plane down the crown, and replace subfloor and hardwood: in other words big bucks. Out of level floors generate complaints/lawsuits, period, and I recommend addressing the issue in every report. This is what I say:
Floors are rarely level, and are commonly crowned in places or slope. Our inspection is that of a generalist and not a specialist, and we do not use any specialized instruments to establish that floors are level. It is worth repeating that floors are rarely level, and it is generally agreed that a slope of one inch in twenty feet is acceptable. Sloping floors can be caused by differential settling and/or sub-standard construction, and are rarely determined to be a structural deficiency. However, if you suspect that your floors are out of level or want to determine if they are you can employ a specialist to conduct a manometer survey. A manometre is a digital instrument that determines relative elevations across a wide area, and provides readings within a fraction of an inch.
As a matter of fact, I always shoot laser levels, but most of my clients don’t know that. I’d rather report that the floor is not level than hear about it later.

So, you do use specialized instruments but you just prefer others not know about it? I guess I don’t understand.

I do the same thing with CO tester. Limits my liability because I don’t claim to do a full on CO test, but I may find a problem by checking.

Some people use a marble or ball bearing to determine if a floor is level, that doesn’t work on carpet, is the marble a Specialized Instrument.

I use a self leveling rotary laser, not in every house but in those where I suspect something may be wrong.

I just did an Inspection where I used it. It was an old House built in 23’ in a small farming community, it was vacant and the owner had just repainted everything, installed all new appliances, and new biege carpeting, the Living room was approx. 16’ wide an 45’ long, with the carpeting it was difficult to see any humps, bumps, or slopes. When I got into the crawspace I saw that all the floor joists on the Living room side of the house had been sistered and that 4x4 beams, with 2x4 posts bearing on wood and earth, had been installed. Becaus one of the beams was only 6 inches off the ground I couldn’t get to the foundation wall on that side of the house and insulation obscured my view I took lots of pictures and then got out, I noted the repairs in my report, normally I refer this to a Licensed General Contractor, but this house was on a stacked stone foundation so I refered it to a Structural Engineer.

The Realtor had left me alone the Electricity had gone out in the whole town, so why I waited to see if it would come back on, so I could make sure I had all the ligts turned off, I dragged out my laser and set it up in the living room, there was a 2 1/2" pitch to the outside wall. There were no cracks in the wall, all the windows worked fine, they were aluminum framed, the door worked fine, yet it was a little out of square, maybe they planed the door to fit. I would have missed that the improper repairs were failing if I had not used my level/

I did take a lot more pictures and normal and made some of my narratives a little longer because the buyers were not only out of town, they had never seen the House, their parents had picked it out, the buyers were still in AZ.

Special tools ore good for special situations

Oh, I use specialized instuments too…gas detectors, golf balls, meters, etc…but what I didn’t understand was why Keith put in his narative that he doesn’t use them to establish floor level and then states that he always shoots the laser level.

I pay attention as I walk through the home. Because of my constuction background I can usually feel it if the floor is out. If I can’t feel it, I don’t think they can. If they pull out a level, well… that’s beyond the SOP’s and I’m not liable.

“Although floors in the home were out of level and not flat, this is always the case. No homes have perfectly flat, level floors, but many have floors in which the changes are so minor that they are not noticeable. You should decide by walking through the home whether the floor structure is a problem for you.”

I usually can feel it too, I don’t know if it was the long empty narrow room and the biege carpet that threw my depth perception off or that my right leg is now more than a 1/2" shorter than my left.

What I really can’t figure out is that the bedroom floor directly above the living room is only 1/2" out of level. I’d like to get back into that crawlspace and dig my way over to the foundation wall to see if the joists are even sitting on the foundation and if the floor and the wall framing are connected, my only guess is that the floor is being supported by a 4x4 beam that has been installed along the foundation wall and not by the foundation itself which must be a little higher.

I keep getting these places, just starting out and willing to travel I’ve been getting the inspections other more established inspectors don;t want, occassionally they do feed me a good one though. I am getting tired of Sylvania/Zinsco Panels though.

It was the same for me. Realtors are hesitant to risk big-money transactions on new inspectors.

I do better in Idaho, I got an Inspection on a 2700 sqft Lake “Cabin” that sold for $2.7 Mill…does it count when you get you Inspection while drinking beer in your favorite Bar? I wasn’t even buying.

Yes, Larry, I do use specialized instruments but, in defference to my status as a “generalist,” I don’t wave them around for everyone to see. Having said that, I’m not secretive about them either, and have often written something like this in my report: “As I will demonstrate the floor in the ____ is ____ inches out of level, …” I’ve written about the use of specialized instruments in my book Inspect and Protect, in which I acknowledge that we must all follow our own path.

I think you got the wrong guy Keith, I have nothing against Special Ized Tools and Instruments, I’ve got a couple of bags full of them myself. I don’t flash them around, other than my Ideal Tester which is on my belt, buy I do take them out when I feel I need them or to satisfy my own curiosity.

I did just come across something strange though, Yur message says “Yes LEWIS, I do use …”, but if I click on “Go advanced” is says “Yes Larry, I do use…” we need a specialized explanation for that

Look at your Post to me, and then look at the Quate in this Message, Now I’m Larry

I must have replied while you were editing the name, I just reloaded this page and watched my name change to Larry. The “the message has been edited” feature is not working today it seems.

My apologies, Gentlemen. I was in a hurry, must have put the right name in, then changed it to the wrong name, but whoever you are I hope my reply makes sense.

Thanks, Keith, I appreciate the response. :wink: