Let's first talk about what firestopping refers to in a garage.
Firestopping is the means by which the prevention of fire and smoke, as well as fumes from vehicles or from stored gasoline, are prevented from entering either vertical or horizontal penetrations and open shafts in a garage wall or ceiling to the living areas of a home.
Usually this is accomplished by blocking any openings, holes, open seams, open joints, or open shafts with a fire resistant, fire rated material such as drywall, or specific types of fire rated foam, sealants and caulking.
In older properties it is very common to have areas (holes and open shafts) in a garage that need to be properly sealed. And during my inspections of older homes I inevitably find some openings between a garage and the house that requires firestopping.
However, it is not something that one would expect to find on a brand new home
The following 4 pictures were taken in an attached 2 car garage in a $975,000 brand new home located, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Can you figure out from the following pictures what I was telling my home buying clients regarding this newly constructed property?
As you can see in 2 of the pictures I have my hand up and under the rear wall facing the interior living spaces of this grossly overpriced "McMansion." In these locations there are wide open vertical shafts extending right up to the underside of the roof. And in the 3rd picture you can see a wide open horizontal shaft next to the stair platform leading into the house.
Yes those areas are wide open wall shafts that can allow fire, smoke and dangerous fumes to breach the existing garage fire rated walls to the living spaces.
In the 4th picture you can see an uninsulated plumbing pipe inside the rear uninsulated garage wall. Can you believe it! Paying almost a million smackaroos and having uninsulate water pipes in an uninsulated wall facing an unheated garage.
Can we all say in unison - DUH! What are the chances of some winter time freeze-ups? I would have to say it was a 100% YES!
Would the home buyers on their own have discovered this incredible and dumb flaw? I truly doubt it. Would a novice, inexperience home inspector have found the problem? Maybe - but in all likelihood - probably not!
On the other hand, would a highly trained and experience home inspector with over 30 years of inspecting properties have detected this major defect?
My answer is a resounding - YES!
So with that in mind, when hiring a licensed home inspector be sure to check his or her credentials, ask how many years the inspector has been inspecting properties and most importantly - how long will the inspection take.
Because time wise if it is a hasty and slipshod home inspection the chances of easily missing a major defect like the ones shown in this tid bit are extremely likely!
And the end results (pardon the pun) are that the buyer(s) could get shafted!
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