My girlfriend is looking to buy a house - today i went and viewed it and while in the attic i saw steel cables every 3 feet that ran across the floor boards and where attached to beams on each side. The house appears to be in good structural condition but seeing this is concerning???

Can anybody help me understand why this was up in the attic and is it a bandaid to a much larger problem.


Is she getting a Home Inspection? If not, she should.

Tell your girlfriend to hire a reputable home inspector. He/she should be able to determine if your concerns or an issue.

Thanks for the replies and yes she is getting an inspection. Just wondering if anyone has seen it.

I was told that the architect who designed the homes addition suggested they put them up.

Try to obtain the plans and engineering review for the addition/modification. If they are unavailable consider having a structural engineer review this aspect of the home in addition to your home inspector.

I suggest that you contact Mass. inspector David Valley at;

1-866-705-3100 (TOLL FREE)

That does sound unusual and to bad there are no pictures.
In the old days they would do that to hold the outside walls together in case of fire.

Never heard that before , Bob. I would assume that the cables were used as would be rafter ties or floor joists running side to side to prevent splaying of the house wall from the downward and outward action of the roof rafters.

They are called brick ties and the older buildings have them.
It was a response to the great Chicago fire of hmmmm guessing 1877.
They often get cut during rehab.

I will post a picture from one of my reports when I can dig it up but it is often found in old greystones and courtyard style buildings and placed closer to the middle than the attic.
Almost looks like a approx 12 inch piece of rebar hanging off the side walls when seen but hides in the subfloor areas.

or it was a repair because something was bowing/ sagging. is it possible the house has been moved?

Never have I seen cables in a house but might be method to their madness in an un- orthodox way. They cable limbs on trees and it works.
Definitely out of the ordinary.

Chris-- Is this a masonry structure? It is not unusual (at least in Wisconsin) to find such cables in older masonry homes. These were used to help keep the walls stabilized–especially if a fire should occur.

Sorry Bob—I guess you already answered that. I just didn’t read down far enough.


what chuck said…