What I'm Seeing Now


Do It Right The First Time

This is another post of the never-ending complaints home inspectors have about common sense.

This is a rear porch which was installed recently on a house I inspected last fall.  It was not put on by the builder, but a custom porch company, well known in the area.

People often ask me if this or that is a good builder or remodeling company.  My answer is usually something like, "Well, it depends on the foreman on site everyday, and the crew."

They called me long after they started having problems with this porch.  The problems started  even before the floor was stained and finished.

They chose a beautiful, virgin  mahogany floor.  It is a top of the line product.  But it was installed when it was very cold.  But it was left unprotected by the plastic you see now - for weeks.  It was snowed on and rained on and water froze on it.  When the company came to stain it, the stain would not hold.  So they stained it again.  Then they put an exterior poly finish on it which bubbled.  They sanded the bubbles off and re-coated just those spots!  So, obviously, the finish looked quite erratic.  The homeowners have known me for years from three past inspections.  They called.  Whatever could be the problem?  I could almost tell them over the phone, sight unseen.  But I went over to see it anyway.

Well, the flooring wasn't the only problem!  There were many issues with just how the porch was constructed.  For one  example, in the photo above, you can see that a downspout drains right beside the bottom of the stairs.  That downspout represents about 2,000 square feet of rain water from the main house and porch.  Look closely.  The stair case is already sinking on the lower right side.  Wood is cracking as the assembly moves.  But I digress.

They did not dream that there were any of the other issues that I came up with on my inspection.  They were interested only in the flooring.  It was cupping, warping, water stained, had erratic coats of colored stain and poly, and it was separating as some of the flooring swelled and some shrank.  My moisture meter registered everywhere from 37% in the center to 89% near the screens, and this on a sunny day.  It goes on and on.

The company was called to come and fill some holes and dings that they had created during installation.  The two photos below show what color they selected to fill the holes.  It is a mahogany floor - they chose white putty!

In addition to white putty, the "repair" crew got something on their shoes.  They tracked it all over the floor.  I don't know what it is, but this is how they left it.  It dried and is not coming off easily.

Further, in the photo to the right, they filled nail holes (how nail holes got there I don't know) and did not even attempt to clean the residual off the floor but left it to dry. 

I know there are perhaps a couple of dozen putty colors, and crayons, available to try to match to the various colors of flooring.  A careful floor professional would take the time to do that before the finish coat, especially when the floor costs as much as this one.  For all I know, that stuff above is wall spackle!  After they were done, they left many, many "repaired" spots in the condition you see above!

What do you say?  What can you say?

I sent them my letter of inspection details.  They were horrified when they saw I had 18 inspection concerns in addition to the floor problems.  They called me to say the porch company is giving them a hard time about the floor!  Giving THEM a hard time?  Something tells me this isn't the last time I will be called upon to offer my findings and opinions as to this porch!

My recommendation:  Even if a remodeling company is well known in your area, ask them for plans and a flow chart that shows the order that things will be done in.  Then have that flow chart reviewed by a professional to determine if it is logical and makes sense.  Common sense is often very uncommon.

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 16 commentsJay Markanich • May 26 2009 08:13PM
Do It Right The First Time
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