Sunday, October 21, 2007


On October 10 I met with Beaufort County Administrator Gary Kubic for the first time. I suggested the meeting in response to an article in The Island Packet in which Mr. Kubic expressed his desire to “restore public confidence” in Beaufort County’s Building Code Enforcement office. Restoring confidence in the County’s Building Code Enforcement office is no small task. We met for well over an hour. The County eventually hopes to obtain accreditation for BCE.

We discussed Beaufort County’s actions since the valley truss connection problem was first discovered. I thanked Mr. Kubic for the County’s initiative in re-inspecting more than 2,800 homes here. I criticized some County staff for reacting slowly to the problem when it was first identified, for being unresponsive to information requests, and for statements made since. We discussed differences between nails, screws, and hurricane clips.

The County intends to issue a final report on the truss connection problem in Sun City. Details of what will be included in the final report have not been determined. I hope that the final report documents the full extent of the Sun City roof truss connection problem. I hope that it addresses valley truss connections in areas other than over the garage. I hope that it addresses standards for measuring compliance with approved plans and specifications: 5% defective is OK? 10%? 25%? 50%? More? I hope that it discusses Pulte's and the County's "fix" for the defective truss connections. I hope that it provides homeowners with advice from experts on the merits of using hurricane clips rather than nails or screws.

It’s a matter of record that many bad valley truss connections were found that didn’t meet Pulte’s specification of two 3.5-inch long, 16d nails, properly driven and properly spaced, in unsplit wood, at each connection. While Beaufort County’s role in Sun City's roof truss connection problem has ended, homeowners here are still left with deciding whether or not they should install hurricane clips. For what it’s worth, I recommend that they do.

There are other issues that need to be addressed here: stucco, lagoons, noncompliant caps on furnace vents, roads, drainage, etc. Pulte and the Sun City Hilton Head Community Association have proven in the past to be unresponsive. Let’s hope that this changes.

Below are photographs of a model of a valley truss connection (bottom chord of the valley roof truss sitting on the top chord of the main roof truss). The first photograph is the front and the second is the back. On the front side of the connection: two toe nails per Pulte's spec and a "toe screw" fix. On the back side of the connection: hurricane clip.

Mr. Kubic got it right when he said that the hurricane clip is a better connection than the toe nails or the toe screw. Everyone else that I've showed the model to has got it right also--a hurricane clip is a better connector than the toe nails or the toe screw. Hurricane clips retail at Lowe's for about 50 cents apiece.

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