Rigid insulation foam board attached to ceiling

The ceiling has rigid foam insulation board; above the garage is a bedroom.
I understand this is a fire hazard and improper installation.

Can you provide some alternative comments and let me know what you think of my comment.

My comment is the following for reporting purposes;

The ceiling panels are foam insulation panels. These should be covered with sheet rock because they are a fire hazard if left exposed. This should be corrected by a licensed professional contractor as soon as possible.

Thank you,

Stephen Rager

Is it a fire hazard without the rigid insulation panels installed? More? Less? Don’t assume. Do you know for fact?

Here is your authoritative source. You’ll need to do your own research on the numbers for the styrofoam insulation that is installed, but it won’t meet the standard. You will also need to separately assess whether the material behind the insulation meets R302.6 Dwelling/garage fire separation.

Then you are doing what? Calling out code?

I would simply say this foam if exposed to fire creates toxic fumes. Suggest a code compliant fire barrier be installed over the foam board.

I never reference the building code for a residential home inspection even though I work in plan review and have access to references.

Not saying you shouldn’t reference code as thats your call but giving this to a buyer helps in what way?

I believe that you should reference code at times. Handrails and smokes at the very least. Panel boxes in bathrooms and closets? I had both conditions today in condos that will also get a fire and safety inspection. Here is the rub, not all towns here do those. And some towns write code that supercedes national code. South Burlington, for instance, requires all homes to upgrade to hardwired smokes in all bedrooms for a real estate transaction to be completed. All homes. Retrofitting some of these places is a nightmare. But it has to be done or no occupancy.

Paul, not questioning anything you wrote, but I’m just curious…

Would your post be any different if you knew, for fact, that there was a fully compliant (properly installed, type x, taped & mudded, yadda, yadda, yadda…) fire barrier** behind** the rigid foam insulation board?

If so, in what way?

If not, why not?

And if you have zero idea what is behind it, if anything… then what?

It informs the client and evryone involved with the inspection report that what you are saying is not some BS you just pulled out of your azz.

I reference model building codes in every inspection report that I write. I also reference ANSI and NETA standards as well as industry and manufacturer installation standards. These are all authoratitive sources which eliminate debates about “that is just your inspector’s opinion”. I do tons of new construction inspections, if you do not equip your client to be able to substantiate a defect with the builder and the builder with his subcontractor, your report will be worthless inflormation to your client because nothing about the house will change.

Citing authoritative sources, including model building codes provides substantiation to what you are reporting as defects.

What I do not do is call out “code violations”.

Don’t give me any vague tales about inspectors getting sued for referecing a building code because they did not report every code exception in the house unless you can provide me at least one first hand account with the specifics of the actual suit. That’s another one of these fear mongering home inspector myths that gets perpetuated to protect minimalist inspectors.

Jeff, I don’t care what’s behind the foam. A fire from below would create the fumes so that is the area I would want it installed. Also the OP stated the foam is a garage ceiling, since we both live in Minnesota we know here a 1 hour burn barrier is the standard, I have seen double 5/8 rock called out also. Since I have never seen drywall inbetween or above floor joists I wouldn’t think of it although I have seen my share of self leveling gypsum flooring which is a great fire break.

Chuck, I know some inspectors quote code but I’m not one of them. Fear of litigation is also something I don’t bother with as I simply can’t live that way.

Regardless of how you or anyone else calls it I don’t think as a generalist I’m serving any good purpose by throwing code references at the buyer. Just a matter of preference learned after years of other people quoting code to me. I think code references confuse most people but if it makes an inspector feel he is doing a better report I say go for it. I prefer to report differently.

You must deal with a far different client population than I do. My clients have never been confused by being provided with an authoritative source that backs the opinions that I write in my reports. Quite the contrary.

I love to hear the parsing of words when inspectors have to talk about code related items while desperately trying to make no mention of them. It comes out about as clear as mud for everyone reading the report.

So which is it? How do you know? Called out by whom? What if the seller / builder has a different opinion? Sounds like hearsay…

So you’re going to talk about code while avoiding talking about code…

Write it up, as others said it is the fumes and spread if caught on fire , Even if it was just wood it would take longer to spread . now it is just a torch. Really I do not care what code says .

Chuck, I’m only about 1.5 hours South of Paul, and my clients have a completely different mindset than his, (he’s urban, I’m rural).

Wayne, it is not uncommon in my area of ‘frigid cold’ winters to apply a layer of rigid foam board insulation over an existing “compliant” fire barrier.

A lot of good input about the write up of the post, thank you everyone. Though the OP asked for you all to state what your comment would be in a report. Anyone care to share?

Wouldn’t my comment be sufficient for reporting purposes? I’m in Indiana not Texas, so we do not quote code, you can be dragged into court and asked if you are a code inspector or home inspector here.

Regardless of what’s behind the rigid insulation, it cannot be fire compliant. I used two sources to call it a fire hazard.

Page 270 of the Carson Dunlop Para 2.4 states "if left exposed it presents a fire hazard.”

Page 57 of InterNACHI’s Inspecting the Attic, Insulation, Ventilation & Interior 2nd Edition states “Interior application must be covered with 1/2 inch gypsum or other building code approved material for fire safety” thus any exposed material would have to be a fire hazard.
Here’s a link to the training material;

With having only 2 hours to inspect a 2,500 sq ft house, 2 to 3 hours to finish the report. I understand the code cited below and the vibrant conversation. I still stand by my original comment since no alternative has been provided;

“The ceiling panels are foam insulation panels. These should be covered with sheet rock because they are a fire hazard if left exposed. This should be corrected by a licensed professional contractor as soon as possible.”

This has to be conveyed to a soccer mom whose likely going to hand this off to her busy husband as a honey do list.

The licensed professional contractor likely would know the local code and correct the situation. I’m more curious now given the replies to see what your comment for your report would actually be because of the varying opinions stated throughout the thread.

Thank you,

Stephen Rager :mrgreen:

First off… No recommendation was given as I didn’t have all the answers to offer an educated reply. I still have not received what I would need to write (if necessary) a comment.

With that being said…

Your post goes to show why so many inspectors get their butts in a ringer!!!

You all seem to like to mix your words and definitions to create issues when there aren’t any, at least aren’t any that should make it into your reports.

Since when is a fire separation the same as a fire hazard? The two terms ARE NOT interchangeable!

A half full gas can, along with the lawn mower that was just (over) filled, is sitting in the middle of the vehicle bay of a properly designed and built attached garage with a compliant fire separation. This is a FIRE HAZARD! Are you placing that in your report? What code does that violate?

It is called FIRE SEPARATION for a reason!

I give a rats arse if the garage is stock piled with foam board due to a “fire sale” at Lowes (pun intended)! If the FIRE SEPERATION between the garage and the home is compliant, I have nothing to say. PERIOD!

There are two issues with the installation.

  1. There is the use of an improper material for the ceiling finish due to its flamability and the amount and toxicity of the smoke it produces when exposed to fire.

  2. The second issue is inadequate fire separation between the garage and habitable space (according to the description) above.

I’ll help point you to the issues but I won’t write your report verbiage for you. Whether you include citation of model codes or try to craft a quasi-semi-sorta-reference with vague anecdotal references to support the opinion, like Paul has done for his easily confused clients, is up to you. Both issues have their basis in documented and vetted model building codes, which you should at a bare minimum understand. Carson Dunlap is not an authoritative source. I hope you didn’t cite them.

I will on this forum, but never in my reports.

5/8" drywall on a garage ceiling is the minimum requirement here. Double 5/8" was called for by an architect who designed an addition I built.

Rather than quote code I think deciding on the performance of the room or structure would allow me to make the right call. Shared kitchen walls in some high rises I worked in had double wallboard. So if I’m inspecting a condo on the 11th floor of a high rise I would have an entirely different set of rules.

Since you think its more professional to provide sections of the code to your clients (who apparently are better educated than mine) then what your doing is right for you and your clients. I prefer a more laid back approach.

On parsing of words? I think simply reporting without providing excerpts from the very confusing and hard to read IBC book does do a good job.

I’m not going to explain the different types of drywall and their applications to my customers.

Sorry to get a little off topic here, but do agents limit the time of inspections in your area? Or is there some type of regulation being that Indiana is a licensed state?

No time limit, I was just using an average time on site and average time writing a report. 2 inspections a day would be average 10 hours day. There are people who do 3 inspections a day in the area.

If it is over the Fire barrier i still be worried about fumes very toxic . ( been in one of those fires before .) LOL I believe i was from a colder area before TN

I agree that foam should be covered over irregardless of what lies underneath the foam, BUT, I felt it necessary to distinguish that it is not required if there is a compliant fire separation beneath it. It would be an added layer of protection.