Monday, July 16, 2012

Pulte screws their customers

Building inspectors have reviewed more than 1,270 attics since Beaufort County launched an investigation earlier this summer to check whether roof trusses in 2,600 homes were installed properly.
    Out of 739 homes reviewed by inspectors in July, 668 required at least one repair, according to inspection records. Many of those repairs were minimal, requiring the addition of a few screws to fasten trusses together.

    Other repairs were more extensive, requiring dozens of screws and additional lumber to close gaps between trusses, according to inspection reports.

Of the 668 homes repaired in July:

  • Trusses in 319 homes needed between one to nine screws.
  • Trusses in 266 homes needed between 10 to 29 screws.
  • Trusses in 60 homes needed between 30 and 49 screws.
  • Twenty-two homes needed 50 or more screws.
  • 136 of the 668 homes also needed additional lumber to close gaps between trusses. The trusses are supposed to rest on top of each other.

  •     Inspectors also made other observations. For example, they noted that several homes were missing a valley truss.

     The trusses in Sun City resident Rick McCollough's home were deemed "unsatisfactory" by county building inspectors during a preliminary inspection in May because of gaps between several trusses and multiple places where nails didn't fasten trusses together properly.

        When the independent inspector returned two months later, he ordered 50 screws installed to secure the trusses. The inspector also had 11 pieces of wood installed to close the gaps between trusses, according to the inspection reports.

        Even after the repairs, however, a Packet reporter saw some trusses with gaps between them and some not connected securely with nails.

        "It's very arbitrary," McCollough said, "and they wouldn't have put this many (screws) in here if I hadn't been up here pointing them out."
        Pulte used to fasten trusses together using metal brackets called hurricane clips, but switched to a different method after Jan. 1, 2004. Pulte's engineer said hurricane clips were not necessary and instead recommended using nails.

        However, in some cases the nails didn't thoroughly penetrate the trusses or they split the wood, weakening the connection. Some connections had no nails or only one nail instead of the two ordered by the engineer.

        To fix the problem, Pulte's engineer recommended switching from nails to screws. Pulte took that advice this spring and began using screws to fasten trusses in new homes.

        But Pulte decided to switch back to hurricane clips this summer, Cherry said, because clips are easier for inspectors to see. Clips are attached to trusses with multiple nails, and have more holding strength than nails alone.

        Homeowners whose attics were repaired with screws rather than clips shouldn't be concerned, Cherry said.

        "It's not one method is better than the other -- they're all acceptable," Cherry said. "We just want to make sure this mistake does not occur ever again."

        McCollough and his next door neighbor aren't convinced. They plan to hire someone to install hurricane clips in their homes, he said.

        "We've put too much money into this to leave it to chance," McCollough said.

    Guess who got screwed?
    answer: Pulte's customers.

    Read more here:

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