How do I write this up?

One of the supporting I-beams has been bent (I would guess either prior to or at the time of construction). The house is about 25 years old and shows no signs of any structural flaws to indicate any weakening of the beam. Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Supporting I beam is damaged advise structural engineer to evaluate

My thoughts are it is not an issue,but at the same time you can,t ignore it.

I might observe that I see no signs of any movement around the beam that indicate emanate signs of collapse, but if that is the only Beam suporting the entire structure you may recomend a Structural Engineer look at it anyway.

I am not a Professional Structural Engineer so I would not assume I know it is not a future issue ,especially since the buyer will look at that thing everyday ,wondering why you did not recommend an Engineer.

Just my opinion, but lets see what they rest of the guys say.

Ed and Bob,

Thanks for your thoughts, I was thinking along the same lines, I was just trying to think of a way to express it. This is what I came up with:

“A steel I-beam support girder in the basement is bent, probably before or at the time of construction of the home. There appear to be no signs of structural flaws in the house (cracking in drywall, e.g.) to indicate weakening of the beam. However, since opinions vary, I recommend a qualified structural engineer evaluate.”

It’s time for bed, have a good night.

Sounds good.
Now save that for the next time these guys claim to click canned comments for all their reports.:slight_smile:

The beam is not bent but rather the bottom flange is deform / damaged at (fill in the location of the beam in regards to what its supporting)…use the proper term so as to not convey that the whole beam is affected by some undue stress.

Chances are that an engineer can evaluate same from his office if given enough information.

This sounds like a more accurate assessment of the damage noted. Also, at least around here, you have to consider it as a weak link in a home that was designed for worse case conditions, i.e. huricanes or earthquakes. So under normal conditions its no problem but what will it do under stress.

As a licensed engineer, I would NOT evaluate that from my desk and any engineer of professional credentials also would not. The issue may not be just a bent beam. Other findings might show additional problems. Even if they don’t, the bend could leave a weak spot in the beam that could fail under lesser loads than designed. I encourage you to recommend further evaluation by an engineer.

Matthew since you are a licensed engineer (I take it structural), how would you evaluate it in the field, what would be the procedures to determine if it is adversely affected?



Your question is not exactly easy to answer, Jeff. Sometimes, before even getting to the area of interest, I see signs that other things are going on, such as cracks in various materials. If not, the first thing to try to understand is the theory of construction. Most homes are similar in construction; but sometimes, the design is different or someone did something different to a common design. A change in the construction or design could have caused something to happen because things that aren’t supposed to carry certain loads, now are. Once I have an understanding of the design, I usually progress from the point of concern outward to see if I can figure out what is going on. Of course, measurement tools are involved, as needed.

I know that is not particularly a good answer. Sometimes, dumb luck is involved in discovering the problem and sometimes it is gut feel, although gut feel is basically ingrained experience and education. I think for most inspectors the important thing to know is when he/she is over his/her head. The same is also true for engineers, although sometimes the latter’s ego does not let he/she know where that line is. Trust me when I say that I have my resources too.

The report may look something like this:

“A 25 year old I-beam was observed to be deformed. After 15 minutes, we could not accurately determine the loads, stresses or capacity of the beam and we could not identify the manufacturer. However, we saw no signs of negative affects on the overall structure of the home. We doubt the house will fall down any time soon. We suggest monitoring the beam for signs of future deterioration or movement. Please submit payment for $500.”


I understand what you are saying Matthew and agree with you 100%…especially with your two points that luck can be involved at recognizing something out of the ordinary as well as “gut feel” is ingrained experience and knowledge (like the way you put that)… I have always felt and stated at times that getting into the home inspection business is too easy… it is no wonder why more and more states are regulating the profession… but I digress.

Lets say that there are no external indications of structural failure (foundation and/or drywall cracking, doors misaligned, etc) yet would you still do some sort of field testing or simply make a recommendation that same be corrected as an additional means to cover your assest (E&O insurance) and what would the tests consist of?

I personally would attest as to whether there is any indication of structural issues in the surrounding area and note that owner / buyer contact SE based upon my findings… and yes, please pay when inspection is complete.
I am having more of my agents get checks (or cash) collect my fees prior to inspection… lately more and more closings are falling through.


PS. Matthew, how is it that a SE will sign off on a foundation inspection from an home inspector from pictures, diagrams and measurements but would not sound off on this one issue. I do foundation inspections from time to time for an SE firm, I typically will send about 70 pictures, drawings, etc… is it simply the rapport and amount of comfort the SE has with that person?

Sounds pretty good, I’ll offer a suggestion for future: I would not comment on weakening of the beam (it probably is weakened, but you can’t know or quantify). Speak to observed structural performance. Something like