Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pulte and Beaufort County, SC building inspectors


"Kubic should bring together Kunich; Arthur Cummings, the head of the county building codes department; someone from the accreditation group; and representatives of Sun City developer Pulte to get this matter resolved."

Good luck, Mr. Kunich. If the meeting happens, then you (and possibly the person from the accreditation group) will be the only one there who knows how roof trusses should be fastened and braced. Master builder Pulte and the Beaufort County Office of Building Code Enforcement have shown conclusively that they don't have a clue.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another expert opinion on roof trusses

Island Packet
November 19, 2009
Hilton Head Island, SC 29938

I have followed reports by the Island Packet about defects with roof trusses in Sun City. As a professional engineer (licensed NJ, PA, MD) with 32 years experience, I often evaluate roof trusses for new construction and existing buildings.

After the 2007 articles, about inadequate valley truss connections, I posted extensive comments on the Island Packet web site. I can no longer find those comments online. However, one key point was that the valley truss connection defect is an indication of additional deficiencies with design and construction of the roof truss installation. I have posted new comments along with the new article published Sunday (11-15-09). However, it is difficult to find the article on the web site now ( If you search using “Archive”, the new comments are actually missing.

A separate article also published Sunday (11-15-09) describes problems recently discovered with lack of web bracing. Reasons for this typical, widespread defect are described in comments I have posted online (

Concerned homeowners should hire an independent, qualified professional engineer, licensed in South Carolina, to evaluate design and construction of the entire roof truss system. The most important issue is whether or not proper tiedown connectors have been installed at the ends of the main (long) roof trusses, to resist large uplift forces that will occur during a hurricane. Proper connections must also be provided within support walls so that wind uplift forces from main roof trusses are distributed down to foundations.

John F Mann, PE
1212 Main Street
Belmar NJ 07719


Monday, November 16, 2009

Pulte & gov't inspectors...will they EVER get it right?


"Just as before, Beaufort County building inspectors apparently missed the problems spotted later by Kunich -- trusses that weren't fastened together or braced according to specifications. Despite the problems, county building inspectors issued certificates of occupancy for the homes, declaring them in compliance with construction guidelines and ready to live in."

"Kunich, a private home inspector whose work includes checking homes in Sun City, says he has found deficiencies there.

'At some of the homes I have looked at, they have no nails and no strapping,' he said. 'At one house almost every connection had no nails.'

Each home where he has found problems had been inspected months earlier by a county inspector and issued a certificate of occupancy, a document essentially saying the home is built properly.

'At all these houses, a county inspector had been there and CO'd them,' Kunich said."

roof bracing

On Friday I went with a friend to his framing inspection for his house in Sun City Reflections (Okatie, South Carolina). This is what I wrote to my friend in an email afterwards:

Subject: gable end bracing
Date: 11/13/2009 11:39:30 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: Rkoenigsc
To: ********,

At the framing inspection of your house today I noticed that the gable end on the north side of your house is braced with several lines of 2 by 4 bracing. This is what I would expect, given the height of the gable end, which was reported by Pulte's man to be 14 ft.

The gable end on the opposite south side of the house has only a single line of 2 by 4 bracing. It is curious to me why the bracing on the south side of the house would be so much less than the bracing on the opposite north side of the house.

None of the other gable ends in the front or back (west and east) are braced. While the gable ends in the front and back (west and east) are not as high as the gable ends on the sides (north and south), I would expect there to be some bracing at these gable ends.

The state building code requires that your house be capable of resisting a 130 mph (hurricane) wind. On the north and south gable ends this equates to a wind force of several tons, which must be resisted by bracing.

If you google "roof bracing gable end" you'll find much information on bracing gable ends, including the attached 2-page FEMA publication.

I hope that this is helpful.


From my previous experience with roof trusses and bracing in houses on this side of US 278, I found that often what is built doesn’t match what is specified. In particular, in the roof truss connections, where two nails were specified as a substitute for a hurricane clip, in MANY cases there was only one nail or no nails or nails that missed their target completely or nails in split wood that were ineffective.

In the Phase 5 lagoons, what was built didn’t match what was on the construction plans.

The fact that what’s constructed doesn’t match what’s specified seems to be a common thread with Pulte here.

Pulte’s man told my friend and I that his house had passed framing inspection the day before (Thursday). Another common thread is that the government inspectors aren’t picking this stuff up. Sun City Reflections (across the street) is in a different local jurisdiction than the original Sun City (not Beaufort County).

I pointed out to Pulte’s man that the wind blows the same on both sides of the house, therefore, the bracing on the gable end of one side of the house should be the same as the gable bracing on the other end. He argued "The engineer says...". I told him that I am an engineer. Didn’t make any difference. He continued to argue.

The bottom line is that my friend, like many others here, has decided that he will have the bracing installed at his own expense. It’s simply not worth the grief to argue it further with Pulte or the local government.

It is a sad commentary on Pulte Homes and the local governments that homeowners here have to reach into their own pockets to bring their houses up to (building) code.

PS The link to the FEMA publication is

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lagoon report card

Pulte = F - - -
for building the Phase 5 lagoons wrong in the first place, for denying that they had built them wrong for 3 YEARS, and for fixing only SOME, not ALL, of them.

Beaufort County = F - -
for their TOTAL lack of participation in resolving these matters. Check out Stormwater Management Utility Department on Measure their vision statement, mission statement and program elements against what they did, which was NOTHING.

DHEC/OCRM = F - - -
as the lead state agency for protecting the environment, for failing to do so, for failing to know that the lagoons weren’t built according to plans, for failing to do anything about it for MONTHS and MONTHS after being told, for not requiring Pulte to fix ALL of the problems, and for dealing poorly with resident citizens and their concerns.

US Army Corps of Engineers = F - -
for interacting poorly with resident citizens and for failing to address environmental violations.

SCHH residents = D
except for a relative few, for failing to recognize that shoddy construction of lagoons negatively impacts the environment, the aesthetics of our community, and our pocketbooks. For letting Pulte ALMOST get away with another one (had it not been for the INCREDIBLE LONG AND HARD work of a VERY few).