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I am a first time homebuyer in the due diligence phase with this house. We identified in the crawlspace that a few of the I-joists had been cut, looks like with a reciprocating saw, for unknown reasons. Directly above this point, the fireplace has begun to separate from the wall (1/4-3/8th inch on one side). Our home inspection report acknowledges the issue, and we have asked the sellers to hire an engineer to approve or fix this before we will proceed.

  • Any idea why the builders would have done this?
  • Does this strike you as a significant risk to us in the short or long term?
  • What would it require (and cost) to fix three of these permanently, assuming the sellers are unwilling to work with us?
  • What's worst case scenario?

There are three joists like this in a row, one is pictured below. The home was built in 2013. It's in North Carolina, if climate is of concern.

Picture of one (of several) cut lower flanges

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    As much or more concerning is the fact that the entire web is also cut out there. About the last place you want a cut in the web (you can drill quite large holes in the center third of the span, at least per the TJI's I have manual, but the ends are not to be messed with.) I'm sorely tempted towards pejorative remarks about the builders, but will refrain for the sake of politeness. – Ecnerwal Feb 9 '18 at 23:26
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    I totally agree with Ecnerwal, that missing web is a real big deal. That will definitely need to be addressed. There are ways to fix it in place, but it will take an engineer. No need for politeness, a sub or at least somebody either intentionally cut it, out of ignorance for a purpose I hope, or the labor assembling it, didn't have a clue what not to do... – Jack Feb 10 '18 at 1:01
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I would hire a structural engineer and ask him to inspect the house before buying.

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It's okay to cut the end of an I-joist with a reciprocating saw. They use chainsaws at the lumber yard. It doesn't need to be be a perfectly straight cut.

For the brand I'm most familiar with, the I-joist needs a minimum of 1-3/4" of bearing. If the I-joist isn't touching the rim board, the fix is to add blocking there for lateral support. It just needs to prevent the I-joist from rotating when loaded.

It's possible I'm misunderstanding your question though. If that's a fireplace cantilever then it definitely shouldn't be cut, but maybe you can upload more pictures of the other joists too?

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