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Framer used wrong nails for shear panels

Paxson Woelber | Posted in Building Code Questions on

I have several shear panels in exterior corners and interior walls that were spec’d for 10d (3x.148″) nails. Instead of 10d nails, my framing crew used a Fanaco 7C nail that measures 3x.131″. They also used a few 2.5″ nails. Almost all of the shear walls were actually done with multiple types of nails, which kinda suggests to me that they were just shooting them with whatever was handy in the nail gun at the time.

How much of a problem will this be? Is it possible to just shoot the correct nails in between inadequate ones? Some of my shear walls already use pretty tight 2″ nail spacing–would they be impacted by effectively doubling the number of fasteners in them?

A muni inspector wrote up the panel with the most mistakes, but I later found that almost all shear panels have at least some nailing that is smaller than spec’d.

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Replies

  1. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #1

    Paxton,

    Unfortunately the only person who can say whether the nailing is adequate, and resolve the matter with your inspector, is whoever designed and provided specifications for the sheer panels.

  2. Walter Ahlgrim | | #2

    At this point it is likely your job site is shut down until the inspector is happy. I only see 2 options 1 pull off the panels and install new panels in accordance with the approved plans. 2 pay an engineer to inspect what was built do the calculations and determine if it is good enough. Assuming it is good enough the engineer will draw plans showing what was built and affix his stamp to the plans, making the inspector happy. If you have only 4 corners option 1 is likely to be the low cost solution but if you have 25 corners option 2 looks better. Of course the contractor will want to over nail the panels but I doubt the inspector will approve.

    If the inspector approves over nailing the question is should you accept it. I would be ok with it in someplace like Indiana with little chance of earth quakes or hurricanes but not in Florida or California.

    Walt

  3. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #3

    The 2.5” nails aren’t as much of a potential issue as the smaller diameter nails. Most of a nails shear strength comes from the diameter.

    It looks to me like the nailing schedule specified “regular” nails but the contractor used gun nails which tend to be smaller diameter. There are tables showing shear strength for all of these types of nails, but you’ll need an engineer to tell you if the nail substitution your contractor made is acceptable or not in your particular project. I’d check with the engineer involved with the original design and see what you find out. It might be a simple issue of showing the nails used on the original plan and stamping the updated drawing.

    I’d try getting your contractor to make this right if there are costs involved. The basic rule in engineering is “if the contractor/fabricator follows the drawings and the drawings are wrong, the engineer pays. If the contractor/fabricator does NOT follow the drawings, then the contractor/fabricator pays”.

    Bill

    1. Paxson Woelber | | #4

      Thank you! Appreciate the guess about why this might have happened. The nails in the house are all over the place--the sheathing was installed with a mix of different nails of various sizes, there are common framing nails in treated lumber, and they used nails half of the specified length in the rafter hangers (which now have to all be reinstalled). It has really bean a mess figuring it all out.

  4. Expert Member
    Peter Engle | | #5

    Paxson,

    IMHO, you really should take a step back and reconsider your choice of contractors. It's very hard to make a change in mid-course, but consider the fact that you're still at the very early stages of construction and your GC has already made some serious mistakes. Unless the GC can convince you that he understands the mistakes and is willing to make them all right, how can you trust him to do anything right for the rest of the job? If the fastening is as bad as you say, "making it right" could/should include taking down the bad framing and replacing it, with a different framing subcontractor if necessary. Absolutely at the GC's cost. Unless the GC is interested enough to jump right on the corrections, I would considering firing him and trying to claw back the payments you've made to date. The fastening issues you discuss are serious issues that compromise the structural stability and durability of the house. If the GC is more interested in preserving his profits than building even a minimum-quality house, you don't want him on the job site.

    The alternate is hiring/paying an engineer or architect to review the designs for each of the known issues, and also to do a careful inspection of the house for additional issues that the muni inspector didn't find. Then the GC would have to make repairs as specified by your design professional. Then you're going to need to continue to pay your professional to conduct detailed inspections for you at every stage of the construction, with the GC making repairs as needed. This is likely to cost you substantially more in the long run and there is the strong possibility that the GC pushes back against everything, every time. I've done this sort of QC work several times. It rarely goes well. If a builder doesn't have a fundamental understanding and concern for good building practices, it's very hard to force him to build well.

    1. Paxson Woelber | | #6

      Thanks very much for this response. Everything you're saying makes sense. Without going into too much detail, the issues with nailing are only the tip of the iceberg. I'm looking at untreated wood against bare concrete, load-bearing studs cut 1/2"+ short, bottom plates and blocking blown apart by nailing, crooked windowsills, t&g flooring attached to the outside of the house, big wavy gaps in sheathing, shear walls built too short, etc. etc. etc. It's very unlikely that this contractor will be finishing the job.

      1. DCContrarian | | #8

        Sounds like the inspector did you a favor then.

        1. Expert Member
          Malcolm Taylor | | #9

          DC,

          With the odd exception over many years, all the things inspectors have pointed out to me have been invaluable.

      2. Expert Member
        Zephyr7 | | #10

        +1 for replacing your GC.

        The problems you’re describing are what I think of as “hidden” problems. These are problems that won’t be immediately obvious in a finished home, but can result in problems over time and are often timebombs just waiting to go off. Bearing area is IMPORTANT and load bearing things cut too short compromises the integrity of the structure.

        Treated wood needs rated fasteners too. If your GC used random nails, you’re likely to have those fasteners rot away since the stuff the wood is treated with is corrosive.

        I would never trust a contractor who took shortcuts in hidden places where he thought he wouldn't get caught.

        Bill

        1. Paxson Woelber | | #12

          Thanks. Some of the problems with the house have been really hard to spot. For example, a seismic strap totally out of view up in a joist bay was left almost entirely un-nailed. I could just barely get my phone up into the bay to get a photo of it. I don't appreciate that kind of thing. And it makes me wonder about some of the fastening that I really can't see without ripping the house apart.

          Most of the nails in the treated wood sill plates look like they're coated, but a few studs were toenailed with common framing nails. At least that shouldn't be too hard to fix.

          Agreed on your last point. 100%.

  5. Walter Ahlgrim | | #7

    Before you fire your GC make sure you understand the payout schedule and where you are on it. Are your lean wavers in order?

    Finding a quality GC who is interested in cleaning up someone else’s mess will be no small feat.

    The real question is, are you able to take over.

    Walt

    1. Paxson Woelber | | #11

      I'm owner-building, but I hired a GC to manage framing. I've taken control of the project back at this point.

      I'm probably gonna hold off commenting on the financial angle since I'm using my real name here, but I'm grateful for the advice. Thank you.

      I live in a "big small town" and the situation has gotten enough attention that a handful of pros in the building community have reached out and offered to help me get things sorted out. I've walked the building site with a few experienced framers now--that's been painfully eye-opening. But luckily I'm pretty confident that I can find someone to help me get things fixed up.

      1. Expert Member
        Zephyr7 | | #13

        There ARE contractors who take pride in their work! If you have some of those who see what happened to you and don’t like that someone screwed you, those guys will be a BIG help getting your project back on track. The few really bad contractors out there make everyone else look bad, and a lot of us take a very dim view of guys who have such low standards.

        Bill

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