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I purchase a new home and in the basement I'm finding a section of cracked/split joists where the nail was nailed into the wood sill plate. After investigating, this one wall was not leveled with the joist end from the other side. I can tell because the builder did put some shims underneath some but not all so I'm seeing about a 1/4 gap between some of the joist and sill. What would be the best way to correct this if it needs to be repaired?

This one wall wasn't leveled to the girder. Behind the insulation, there is a backfill cement wall that went up a feet with a wood sill plate on top of that. It was hanging up off of the toenails and a nail from the top corner of the joist to the top sill plate. The builder came in, they denied it was a problem and said the wood shrinks. They placed shims underneath them. My concern is there is a couple of joist that the toenails split the corners off both sides on where it rests. They placed 2 x10s between each joist to prevent twisting. Is this a sufficient repair?

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3 Answers 3

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Wood framing is not, nor intended to be, all that precise. 1/4" gaps here and there are meaningless. The wood framing elements will shrink and grow with changes in environment. After all, SOMETHING is holding up that joist, and almost with a certitude, will continue to do so for the life of the building.

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I agree with kreemoweet. Also...

  • Joists tend to vary in height. Lumber wider than 6" swells and shrinks quite a bit, especially when it's pressure-treated. They also tend to be set flush on top in order to create a flat floor. This can result in what you see here.

  • There's a lot that holds a joist in place beside the sill. Face nails through the rim, joist hangers, subfloor above, and the wall plate above all contribute to stability. A gap like this concerns me less than half an iota.

  • The toenails mostly hold the joist in place during construction. They don't have much uplift prevention strength, so if you're worried about a trip to Oz, don't be. In hurricane zones there will be other forms of attachment, such as continuous wall sheathing or steel strapping. A few cracks at the toenails aren't a problem.

If you want peace of mind, drive some wood shims in from both sides until snug, then move on with life. It's all good.

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I’m having the same issue--the rim board is higher than the joist. They put in OSB which is meant for engineered joists such as I-joist and they used regular 2x10. I had to shim the bottom and the architect told me to put studs on both sides of the joist to hold it.

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  • That doesn't sound like quite the same situation. An OSB rim could be 9-1/2" high, whereas a 2x10 is about 9-1/4" high. That's a consistent height variation. I think we see something else in this question. Similar, but not identical. The solution probably wouldn't be as substantial as yours was.
    – isherwood
    May 22, 2023 at 18:43

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