Asked on Apr 05, 2015

Cracked rafter in attic

by Scrappykat
I am interested in purchasing this home. The inspector noted a cracked rafter in the attic. It looks to be about 6-8" long. The seller is not willing to fix anything. Is this a huge deal? The house is 40 years old. Thank you for any advise!
  32 answers
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Apr 05, 2015
    @scrappykat I am no expert in this area, but the inspector should have explained the implications of a cracked rafter. You may want to phone them back and ask that question. I would be a little concerned that over time it could impact the support of the roof. Check with the experts. If you could it would be great to update this post with your findings. Thanks for posting.
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 05, 2015
    TY for your reply :) The inspector advised us to contact a contractor and have them check it and see about a "repair." I am the secondary offer, so just got the report ---wasn't actually at the inspection.
  • Melissa Gutilla Melissa Gutilla on Apr 05, 2015
    I spoke with my Brother(who is a home builder) and he said it shouldn't cost that much to fix depending on where it's at. Sometimes you can nail the same size boards on the sides of it. But without knowing for sure if it's an angle brace or the top or bottom cord he can't tell you for sure. There are difference factors that he would need to know like how far the span of the roof is etc. But either way it shouldn't be more than a few hundred dollars.
  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Apr 06, 2015
    Agree with Melissa. If it's in the long straight part, it's just a matter of sistering both sides and then your good to go. If it is a "joint" position, it would be a little more involved. But not to a point that it would deter me .
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    TY all for the great news!!! :) I have a picture of it but its imbedded in a .pdf and I don't know how to get the pic out to post :? It is on the bottom of a long rafter, not at a joint, so it makes sense that it reinforcing it on either side would take care of it---whew! A relief---now I'm REALLY hoping I get this place (my realtor is thinking the inspection report might scare off the primary buyers....).
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    Hope, there was/is no termite inspection. Never had one of these in all the homes I've bought and sold (or that my parents have bought and sold). Maybe it's because of our climate or something, but I don't believe termites are an issue around here???
  • Morgan Morgan on Apr 06, 2015
    OK, so you didn't have to pay for an inspection, why not spend a couple hundred bucks to get a structural engineer to look at the attic. In my experience as a Realtor, most good engineers give a detailed report including the proper fix. In many cases, the fix can be done by the buyer or current homeowner themselves. Or, if you choose to fix without having an engineer check it first, have one look at it after the repair to make sure you've done everything correctly. This is a serious concern and should be checked by a professional.
  • Ron Ehly Ron Ehly on Apr 06, 2015
    Why did it break? Has to be a reason and it won't be good, I would have a contractor look at it, foundation settle?
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    Good Idea Morgan. If I become the primary, I will do that, among other things. The inspection report revealed lots of (what in my mind) little things----no GFCI and some "amateur" wiring, inadequate vapor barrier in crawl space, boiler not elevated properly, hot water heater flue too close to insulation in attic (and no fire proof barrier), inadequate wall between garage and house, some pest droppings (house has been empty for several months---its being sold as part of an estate), etc. so there will be lots to fix :/ It's on water though and the price is good so I really want it. Seller isn't going to fix any of these things (I did get them to give me $5000 at closing toward a new roof which is nearing the end of its life according to the inspection report).
    • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Apr 07, 2015
      This info you just shared can all be explained by codes. When they were done, ( flue, floor clearance, etc.) were probable not written into the codes like they are in today's codes. Homes being sold as part of estates are usually sold for money and hold no emotional value to the seller. It sounds like everything you mentioned would not stop me from purchasing the home. If the home fits your want list, and every thing is fixable, go for it! You have nothing to lose and it sounds like a great investment! Enjoy your journey!
  • Susan Lightcap Susan Lightcap on Apr 06, 2015
    Whatever the choice--structural engineer, contractor---as to who checks out the cracked rafter, its being there is a negotiating point on making the sale. I would want to know for sure just what is going on with the rafter before developing an offer.
  • Jhunt10 Jhunt10 on Apr 06, 2015
    I agree with Melissa & Hope, I'm a warranty rep for a single family home builder & this is a common request I receive a few times a year. My framer just sisters long 2x 4 s on either side of the crack with the appropriate number of nails or screws. Costs to me is usually 90 bucks plus a few boards.
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    Ron, the inspector didn't see any foundation or settling issues. To me, the rafter just looks like it weakened over the years (maybe a flaw in the lumber??) and started to "split."
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    Susan, This house is on a lake (rare in my area) and priced ~$15,000 lower than it should be (the reason I can afford it in the first place). The seller has stated they won't repair anything. I am comfortable enough keeping my offer as is. I will have some $ in reserve for any major issues that could crop up too). I know the market around here and realize that cracked rafter or not, this house is a bargain.
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    JHunt, thank you for your input---I was thinking it probably wasn't a *MAJOR* issue but am hoping the primary's think it is (along with all the other minor stuff the inspector found) and will walk away from the deal.
  • 1240839 1240839 on Apr 06, 2015
    Good luck, Scrappykat! Sounds like you know what you're in for. Lake front is special.
  • Jean Thompson Jean Thompson on Apr 06, 2015
    Sounds like most of the Repairs would be easy and low Cost Fixes.. We bought a house that was here when my Dad was a kid... it had minimal electrical wiring, plumbing etc..since my Dad was a Carpenter/contractor with over 50 yrs experience + my brother is Electrician, we felt very Safe in Buying and Remodeling this house.. I now know how to Tape and Finish Drywall.. sure saved us a bunch of money doing all this work our selves.. and my other Brother helped us install the replacement Windows... so we are all set..
  • Anthony Luongo Anthony Luongo on Apr 06, 2015
    If the rafter is completely exposed you're in luck; just "sister" (i.e. add a 2nd rafter to the damaged one) the rafter with the same size piece of lumber. Some say you only have to patch the damaged area going a few few beyond the crack on either end, but if you can sister the whole thing and you wont need to worry about future potential cracks. Good luck
  • Paul Dodge Paul Dodge on Apr 06, 2015
    Everyone's comments about "sistering": in on either side of the rafter are correct. I prefer to bolt through both sides of the added support to increase the load that can be carried over nails. In your northern climes, it could have been snow or ice weight that broke the rafter, A larger concern to me would be the electrical i.e. "no GFCI and some "amateur" wiring, inadequate vapor barrier in crawl space, boiler not elevated". Check with your insurance agent, I have been told that wiring done by a non-licensed electrician that causes a fire later can make the homeowners insurance null and void. I have purchased many houses over my lifetime and the few hundred dollars you will spend for a licensed electrician to bring everything to code is money well spent. I have rewired entire houses, but when I was done I have the licensed electrician inspect all my work and the then the city building inspector give final approval.
  • Carol Carol on Apr 06, 2015
    I believe the term is called "scabbing on". You scab on two boards, one on either side of the cracked one. This will fix the problem. If it is the only one that cracked it may have been a board that shouldn't have been used in the first place. If it has sagged a little, it would need to be jacked up a little. Sounds very complicated, but in reality it's not. A carpenter will know what to do. On another note, these inspectors find the most hideous things to bring up in an inspection. It scares the hell out of a buyer....just to let you realtors know. The problems...when thought on for a day....are really not that hard to fix. (usually)
    • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Apr 07, 2015
      I believe it's a term used differently depending on where you live. My husband calls a staub and I call it a stake.
  • Vickie Macfarlane Vickie Macfarlane on Apr 06, 2015
    Home owner should repair this. It can be repaired, but should not be your responsibility. If the homeowner will not repair, what else are they hiding. I had this happen in one of my previous homes, was a easy fix, just required a person who knew what they were doing to resupport with a new board on both sides. You may want an engineer to look at it a little closer.
  • Nancy Nancy on Apr 06, 2015
    I think it depends on the location of the crack as to whether it would be a problem. Even kiln-dried lumber can have a "problem" known as checking, which is nothing more than the lumber drying out onsite and is usual in the thicker pieces of lumber. If the crack is in the middle of the rafter, rather than at the edge of the rafter, it isn't as big a problem, IMHO.
  • 4ja251581 4ja251581 on Apr 06, 2015
    I agree with Nancy. If it is just one rafter that is cracked. if there is no visible sagging in the wall below it, and you are still concerned a 6 inch crack can be helped with a sister rafter nailed to it.Just be careful of any wiring. Just our of curiosity how much snow do you usually get? The roof has a low pitch?
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    The rafter is exposed on both sides so "scabbing on" would work---and it is in the middle, not an edge. There is no wiring---this is in the attic ceiling. We can get lots of snow here :/
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    Thank you everyone for your input and comments---they've really helped me with my decision to keep pushing forward on this home purchase---I just hope I get it :)
  • Whit Elfner Whit Elfner on Apr 06, 2015
    If the inspection is for a mortgage that is another story and you should speak to the inspector about the types of repairs required in your area. ...and the 'path' to repair, you might find silly requirements in some areas, including a structural engineers opinion before any repair is begun...
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 06, 2015
    This wasn't the appraisal done by a bank for a mortgage. It was the inspection done for the primary buyers (I have a secondary offer in). I just heard that the primary has two days to make a decision about whether they will accept the house "As Is," so I will hopefully know something on Wednesday. Cross your fingers for me because I really want this place! :)
  • Bobbie Gardner Bobbie Gardner on Apr 06, 2015
    Considering the house is 40 years old, I would suggest have a licensed contractor bolt a sister-rafter of equivalent size to the side of it. Not hard to fix and you have remedied the problem.
  • Charles Prock Charles Prock on Apr 07, 2015
    Is the rafter part of a truss? Or is it a stick built house with the rafters cut and raised by the framers after the ceiling joists were installed? If it is a rafter the comments concerning "sistering" are correct. I would go one step farther and install a purlin across the crack and the next 3 or 4 rafters...After doing this I would then brace on a diagonal to the top of a wall nearby....This will prevent any sagging under snow loads....
  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 07, 2015
    I am not sure----the rafter is attached to the top of the attic---it was stick built
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Apr 07, 2015
    Get three estimates for repairs. Take the middle one. Ask the seller to take that amount less on the house sale for repairs. Good luck!
  • Charles Prock Charles Prock on Apr 07, 2015
    Then do the "sistering" and purlin and you won't have to worry about it.
  • Stagger Lee Stagger Lee on Sep 04, 2016
    Get two 3 foot long pieces of the same size wood (the rafter) screw them to each side of the cracked part, make sure the new pieces cover the crack at the middle. Then get 4 half inch bolts long enough to go through the thickness of the rafter and the two new pieces. Drill through the middle of the wood at equal distances and apply washers and bolts, you should have 8 of each. This is plenty to fix it for you.