What I'm Seeing Now


This Roof's For You

I could have taken 30 pictures of this small, front porch and roof. The seller, not from here, nor anywhere above the southern border, proudly proclaimed to the Realtor, not me, that he had built the small 6'x4' roof over the front porch stoop. I would have never guessed differently.

Driving up I noticed the two small, turned columns, 3"x9', splayed interestingly and no where near plumb. They were bowing somewhat under the load, and the load was not terrific. The "trim" on the front would best be described as "not symmetrical," or "not professional," or even "not done by an adult..." The trim on the side merely abuts the vinyl siding. One piece of side trim is a 1"x3" and the other 1"x4" - nearly the same! I can only imagine how this roof was attached to the house. The buyer and I guess probably with something other than a 2"x6", and perhaps with a couple of nails in each. Hopefully the nails hit a stud. It appears to have been painted yesterday, perhaps to hide staining.

All in all, just standing beside the porch and looking up, even before I set up my ladder, I knew this was going to be another typical inspection of another typical foreclosure where the owner is renting rooms by the day to a house full of squatters who moved in and have taken over until they are forced to leave. These squatters are ruining the place, perhaps on purpose. It was a mess, surely not a strong enough word. We had to ask the 16 people inside the house to leave. Pretending not to understand English, they had no choice once they heard and understood my very polite, very firm, and very adult Spanish. I spoke to them like a teacher would speak to elementary school children. One said, "You Argentines think you can tell anybody to do anything." What does that tell you about my Spanish, and, well, and my blond hair and blue eyes? They left without response. I did find another person sleeping in one of the 7 "bedrooms" later, whom I asked to leave so we could conduct an "official" inspection. He left quickly when he saw four people standing in front of him.

I selected these two pictures to show how this roof was shingled and how the porch was installed.  

There is no evident flashing. If you don't know how to flash, well, what's next? Silicone!  The disobedient and bulging siding was simply nailed to the house - with interior nails.

Both sides looked just like these two pictures. And, you will notice, there are (at least) two fine layers of shingles. There had to be because if they are not properly staggered shingles will leak quickly. There was no evidence of tar paper. And no gutters or drip edges on the sides.

The rear roof had sustained some wind damage to the shingles. We had a terribly strong wind storm about a month ago. The repairs to those missing sections, perhaps a total of 50 square feet, look very similar to the shingles on this front porch roof. Not staggered, pieces here and there, the ends of some not nailed, and put right on top of the upper course they are intended to repair. There were broken pieces all over the roof and yard. I could treat you to another 50 or so posts regarding the interior. But why spoil your day any further?

Two of my three inspections yesterday were like this.  These inspections are tiring, tiresome, and have gotten real old.  The beat goes on.

Unfortunately, I think the beat will not only go on, but get worse. This is a problem we are just beginning to experience, as a nation and as a home inspection industry.

Oh boy...

My recommendation:  This particular buyer is in building remodeling and construction.  He is capable of not only understanding the problems that exist in houses like this but also how to handle them.  He has bought many such properties, and calls me every time for an inspection.  The average buyer would be overwhelmed with the conditions that exist in many foreclosures.  Be sure your clients understand that what they cannot see can be as bad as what they can see.  Maybe worse.  And sometimes things intended, however well intended, to improve a property, can make for expensive and extensive future repairs.  This house was built in 1996 and this buyer's plan -- gut it and start over!

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 12 commentsJay Markanich • April 05 2009 11:48AM


Jay - Times are getting crazy and both contractor and home owners are doing repairs that just should not exist. I'm finding it's taking longer and longer to do inspections because of these repairs. Great post ... thanks for sharing.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) about 10 years ago

Great point. We all have to take the time for a close look and preferable and inspection to know what we are buying!-Dinah Lee

Posted by Dinah Lee Griffey, Managing Broker Windermere Peninsula Properties (Windermere Peninsula Properties) about 10 years ago

Hi Jay: That was simply AMAZING! Don't even need a home inspector for that one!  Even I, with my non-experience can see it!


Posted by Matt Listro, Your Credit Repair Expert (National Credit Fixers - Matt Listro) about 10 years ago

We just sold one that had a roof with no felt paper.  We have run into many situations with roofs not having starter rows of shingles.  I am constantly annoyed with incompetent or fraudulent contractors who do this kind of work. 

Posted by Steve Chaisson (Keller Williams) about 10 years ago

What a joke of a roofing job!  There are some people that should NOT do it themselves!

Posted by Jim & Maria Hart, Charleston, SC Real Estate (Brand Name Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Suesan - right!  It does take so much more time.  And the reporting is not made any easier, is it?

Dinah Lee - a close look is right.  Take your time!  Look under the rugs, well, if you are able to stomach touching them...!

Matt - there are many more pictures where those two came from, of the same porch, but you don't have the time to read all the posts!  And that is just one, small porch roof!

Steve - I often see roofs without any paper.  And often with nails that are simply too short to go through the two layers...

Jim & Maria - the person who did this is in construction!  Working on new homes!  That we are buying!  Don't get me started!!



Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 10 years ago

Someday they should put a roof on that house. What they have now is, well ...........

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) about 10 years ago

Jack - the "repairs" of the blown-away shingles on the back side of the house were just as comical.  They had the same pattern as in this picture, but laid right over the other shingles, nailed kind of here and there.  "I did it myself!"

Fortunately, there was no flashing needed out back, so he saved $$ on silicone caulk...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 10 years ago

Jay that shingle job looks almost as professional as the roof picture that Suesan posted yesterday:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 10 years ago

Charlie - I don't remember seeing it, though I may have.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 10 years ago


Looks like a peach of a roof. You are just one old trouble maker.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 10 years ago

Jay these type of inspections take long enough. I had one this weekend, 2100 sq. ft. that took over 4 hrs to write up everything I found. I can't imagine having to deal with squatters.

Posted by Tad Petersen / Home Inspector, Mpls (Safeguard Home Inspections, Inc.) about 10 years ago

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