Support Pier

Check out the picture of the masonry block support pier. The bottom block is turned on its side. Is this ever OK? I think it’s way wrong becuase the bottom block is much weaker when it’s turned that way. If it’s wrong can you guys give me some words to write it up? Thanks in advance.


All block supports must be placed so that the hollow channel is vertical. Blocks that are layed down on their sides, have a tendency to crush.

Floor supports installed in a non-standard manner. Recommend review by a structural engineer. Based on engineer’s recommendations, recommend correction of pier construction or other structural work be accomplished by a licensed, reputable contractor.

You bring up a question I had concerning the location of some of these comments. When compiling a Summary, do these “recommendations for further review” get inserted there, or do you commonly just leave them in the body of the report? I know from experience, it seems no one reads the entire report, just the summary!

I usually write it in my normal text area of the report in a different color to have the readers attention to that note and also rewrite it in my summary at the end of the report that people are more apt to read, because it is short and to the point.
It is more or else combined with the concerns and safety summary.
Hard to comment from the picture, due a pier that is picking up the load in the picture and the block might be achieving something else that I can not see.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

The main reason why you write this information in is protect your self.
We all hope that people fix the concerns that we tell them about.
Many people seldom do as we recommend until they have trouble .
Roy Cooke sr

That looks like a pier that was added after the fact…If that is the case I would report it as incorrect and needing correction, but would not suggest a SE.

A wise man once told me that when you are out there doing these Inspections and confronted with obstacles that you might not have seen before or understand, the best way about it is to right hard on what you see and install the CMA in your report. For the ones that are wondering what CMA is it = Cover my A##. Since it was worded a little different from the Wise Man, I will not make it verbatim in the text.
This almost sounds like CMI , must be a relative. ha. ha. That’s OK, I don’t qualify anyway. Maybe another 8 years or so, I might relish that designation.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I see this type of condition regularly. The comment I suggested should cover your bases without getting too deep. Usually this is in a home with a few years on it and if I am seeing the picture correctly, it appears to have been there for some time. I think that if folks are buying the home, then they simply need to be alerted that problems may have existed in the past. So to answer the original question, I would say that it is not “book” correct, but if it is serving the purpose for a number of years and is functioning as intended, then simply alerting them to this fact is enough. That way, if there is a future problem in that area, you told them about a possible cause!

Blocks are not intended to be laid on the sides, and there is a reduced capacity. How severe the issue is depends on the loading, which isn’t known.

Also, don’t be fooled by the common misconception that if something has been a certain way for a while it’s probably okay. The length of time it’s been there really has nothing to do with the capacity … and structures get weaker over time, not stronger. It could be just hanging on by a thread and then fail suddenly since it’s unreinforced masonry.

As long as you don’t suspect anything else, it’s probably less expensive to have the condition repaired than to to have an engineer evaluate if it’s acceptable.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink:

Well now, if you have no idea of the loading on this particular pier, then perhaps just having it corrected won’t solve the problem. I prefer to have an expert look at these situations since the pier is probably a homeowner repair that they thought would be adequate. All things considered, a repair may be all that is needed, but then if it isn’t, you are now the expert in determining the loads, size of pier, construction method. As I said before, USUALLY these conditions are found in homes (in this area) that are over 40 years old. Buyers investing in this type of property should be alerted to the condition, how they proceed is up to them, but I would still give the cannned statement for an engineer review (as you mentioned - for the loading and calcs).:wink:

How many times have we seen Mr. Weekend Bubba working on his car with cinder blocks, always on their sides holding up the car while Bubba works on it? Concrete blocks should have labels on them stating This Side Up. :):slight_smile:

Loading/capacity can’t be inferred from a visual inspection for any structural component, and inspectors will often make the call to either recommend further evaluation or repairs for defects observed … with repair recommendations usually associated with minor isolated material/installation defects. However if someone is more comfortable recommending further evaluation for possible defects that may affect capacity or where the gut feeling is something is very wrong, particularly where a homeowner structural fix is suspected, I think thats fine.

Very true … :slight_smile: :wink:


Its sort of reminiscent of the bubbas laying sod at the construction site. The site manager kept running to the windows of the new homes and would yell out, “green side up, green side up!”

David, that was pretty cute, LOL. Is it possible that we have to go to that point of explicitly to inform the general public and try to make every product on the market idiot proof?? I don’t think so because every time you solve one, another idiot is born. I believe it is a no brainier and no win situation.

“Several of the floor supports utilizing concrete blocks are installed improperly—the holes in the block should be vertical. None of the supports have footings. It is recommended that a State licensed general contractor be consulted to provide a further evaluation of the adequacy of the floor supports.”

State engineering laws don’t allow contractors to evaluate adequacy of supports. But for less serious problems like this one (at least from appearances on the surface from the post) you can word it along the lines of recommending a qualified specialty contractor investigate the conditions, and provide estimates for any repairs or further evaluation as needed. If they then need to get an SE involved about capacity they usually have one they can consult with.

For more serious/expensive problems it’s usually better to have an SE look at it first and then give the client recommendations, including ball park repair costs … particularly if there are any questions concerning capacity. They can then get several estimates for the recommended repairs to compare apples to apples.

JMO & 2-nickels (as an SE also) … :wink:

“State engineering laws don’t allow contractors to evaluate adequacy of supports”

Bob is saying the same thing that I do in the electrical forums.

Some statements you can not make.

Example, in Ohio,:

I can say that the joist was comprimised per code. Bob can come in and say it, the joist, is OK or not OK. I cannot.

If he trumps my opinion he must use (AF&PA)-(WFCM)or (AISI)-(COFS/PM).

I will let him explain this I am not quaified to do so.

Reference 301.1.1 RBC probably the same in the ICC.

Mike is right that inspectors need to also be careful with how they word the observations, and not cross the line into evaluations … for the structure, as well as other specialized systems (mechanical, plumbing, and electrical). This is both from a liability and legal point of view. States that have HI licensing usually clearly state those limitations, with some worded more restrictive than others.

Statements like “the floor framing appears okay”, and particularly dangerous statements like “the floor framing appears adequate”, should be avoided like the plaque and can put an HI on a very slippery slope.

If you don’t see anything wrong but still want to comment on that, you can use something along the lines of “the were no obvious (readily apparent) defects from a visual observation”. Just be sure to also point out exactly what you did or did not inspect, and from where, when using generalized statements like that in an inspection report.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink:

All states have different laws. In Kansas as most of you know, the state engineering and architect law excludes 1 or 2 family dwellings from the laws involving the practice of engineering or architecture.

No that does not mean we don’t have engineers or architects design or analyze residential systems or components. It does mean that my clients may not have as much protection from a screw-up by them here, as they could have in some other states. Therefore I really look hard at a defect to determine if I want this evaluated further by a licensed and competent contractor specializing in … or do I feel I want an engineer to do design or calculations on something. I have to be very comfortable with a specific engineer, architect or contractor before I refer my client to them.