Structural Requirements for 2nd Floor living space

I inspected a Garage that was converted into a single family home 50+ Years ago and although the second floor (cape cod) felt sturdy and acceptable, the framing below concerned me. It’s completely unacceptable for any new construction (and I think was probably unacceptable for a Single Family dwelling at the time it was built—1950).

The floor joists are fastened to the side of the 2X4 walls with nails and have a 2X4 ledger board below nailed to the 2X4 walls. (See Photo)

I’d like to hear others comments before I send out my report. Many Thanks!

Google “Balloon Framing”.

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Yes, but the 2X4 Ledger is not recessed into the supporting wall. It’s simply nailed onto the studs.

It has withstood the test of time.


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That is my biggest concern. I don’t want to make a big deal out of something that is working as designed, nor do I want to ignore something that the next guy in could make a big deal out of, and frighten the owner. In my mind this is what makes it a tricky situation. Thanks!

You can write a narrative and include language that the framing is unconventional or not to today’s standard. But put the caveat in there about the age.

IMO, who cares about the other guy.

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It drives me nuts when I see “ribbon” associated with balloon construction. The correct term is “rib band” or “ribband”, but decades of marble mouthing turned it into the now-accepted “ribbon.”


Call it out for what it is: a non-prescriptive construction technique. You need to - at the very least - properly describe it so your client knows what he’s buying. And that is most definitely a non-prescriptive construction technique.

You should also call out that fact that no fire blocking exists. That should be corrected.

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Even though the framing passed the test of time under the previous homeowners, you never know how the new homeowners will use the dwelling. For example, the new furniture could be heavier, they may have more people, heavier people, they may want to host parties with large number of people, etc, etc… For these reasons, I would describe what I discovered to the client. If the client has any concerns, calculations would have to be performed to see what the framing could handle as fas as live and dead loads. Then you go from there depending on the new homeowner’s planned use of the dwelling. It is also important to note that there may not be proper COs on the dwelling. And if there are no COs, acquiring the COs may be problematic without major corrections. Perhaps the client wants to level the place down, then who cares? perhaps not! Our job is to inform the client and let them decide based on their needs. In situations where I’m not certain whether to mention something I always ask myself: if I was the buyer, would I want to know?


Yes, that is good information and how I tried to communicate with my clients.


Thanks to everyone for your responses. Basically, I just described it the same way to the client as I did to you in this post. I also added the caveat, “Recommend consulting with a Structural Engineer or Architect as you find reasonable and necessary.”
All the Best!

Is this a general visual home inspection or is it a 'structural inspection? Are you qualified to do structural inspections, do you have credentials for structural inspections? If not, then don’t get too technical, just mention the issue that drew your attention, like sagging ceiling, cracks in the drywall etc.