What I'm Seeing Now

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A Disaster Under Construction - Design Flaw

There are times on new construction when I see things that I call "design flaws."  And some of them are serious!  The problem with them is that the builder or subcontractor or whomever is left to try to make them work.

This little gem jumped out at me before I got out of the SUV.

What you see is a steep roof and a valley right beside the adjoining wall.  During heavy rains water rushes.  There is little flashing above that small section of counter flashing and a smaller section of step and counter flashing at the bottom of the valley.

In favor of flashing is a wide valley made up of wrapped shingles.

That trim under the window simply has to go.

The wood trim around that triangular window is merely caulked.  That wall will receive vinyl siding.

How good is that smaller section of flashing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The larger "flashing" you see on the right is tar paper!

The metal flashing is ripped, has gaps and wraps erratically.  It also extends over the brick window sill, which will only divert water there instead of into the gutter.  There is no kick-out flashing to divert water away from the brick and into the gutter.  Water is already staining the brick.

And many shingles have already been broken and torn by another unthinking "tradesman."

I had to see what they thought this should look like in the end.  So I looked around the neighborhood to find a similar elevation and detail.

 

And I found it.  It is not impressive.

Between the shingles and wood trim, from the very top to about the middle of the trapezoidal window is roof tar!  ROOF TAR!  That has been used to finish the siding job.  I see no flashing anywhere above the middle of that window.  The step flashing begins about the lower third.

The water is diverted to under the wood trim all along that wall.  Remember, wood has six sides.  ALL six need to be primed and painted.  When a piece of wood is cut or mitered, those cut edges MUST be primed before paint. 

They say to never say never.  Well, I never, um, NEVER see those cut edges primed and painted!  They squish in caulking, and often the WRONG kind.  But even if those edges are primed and painted, wood trim is not intended to be underwater and this will rot quickly.

And the flashing that is present does in fact divert water under the window trim over the brick sill.  And the counter flashing attachment to the house is just beautiful!  It is glued on with silicone caulk, which is already hanging off in places.  This house is only a couple of months old.

My recommendation:  ALWAYS get a pre-drywall inspection!  But even that sometimes cannot correct what will obviously be a disaster under construction when the house is finally finished! 

A design flaw is a design flaw is a design flaw.  An inspection won't change that!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 26 commentsJay Markanich • October 06 2010 06:56AM

Comments

Jay,

Great topic.

Back in the day, when I did roof repairs, I had a love/hate deal with these details.

Loved the income.  Hated trying to squeeze into these areas to do the work. 

And lost count of the number of homes I visited with large water stains and mold at the point where the corner of the house met a garage.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 10 years ago

I hear you Mike!  And agree.  Those problems are design flaws.  How about the detail where a small roof meets another side of the house and a gutter is 1" from the siding?  Who thought that up?

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

And that cute little triangular window...overlooks the shingles...that IS cute..not !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 10 years ago

And that's the master bathroom Sally!  Beertiful view!

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

Hello Jay:

When they say "The Devil is In The Details" they mean it.  Hard to imagine who came up with that detail, but it wasn't a professional roofer.

Posted by Brian Rugg, Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est (Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-818-6700) over 10 years ago

Brian - you have to think that the architect group designed this as a "unique" feature, but I don't know why.  It really is a problem in the making.

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

Jay, those are major leaks that will show themselves after a couple of years once all that false covers gets some heat exposure. By then that contractor will probably have re-organized under a new name and let the owner find a good repairman to fix it right.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 10 years ago

That seems to be the way of the world Ed.  Kick the problem down the road.*

* See our gubment for the best example of that...

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

Yikes!  You would think that someone would have stepped up and said "Houston, we have a problem"
 before this point!  And they have done this on multiple homes?  Amazing!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 10 years ago

Obviously, Kathryn, they don't think they have a problem!  This is the third house in the neighborhood, so far, with this detail.  I think it is a big deal.  They don't...

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

Unfortunately, as you said, you can't fix a bad design.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 10 years ago

It is what it is Jim!  No inspector can work that one out.

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

Jay - It is depressing to see such flaws, but they occur every day.  But with the variety of "tradesmen" working on homes, and with their lack of knowledge or concern, it isn't surprising. All the more reason for a pre-drywall inspection . . . from someone who understands proper design and construction technique.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 10 years ago

I agree, John, but what do you do about such design flaws as a home inspector?  Suggest architectural changes?  Demand changes?  I am at a loss to know what to say about this kind of stuff.

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

Jay ~ Appreciate the detailed information.  We see this type of debacle way too often.  Could be why we frequently get resistance from the builders when we suggest our buyer's insist on an independent home inspection along the way.  That's when I get to suggest we move along to another builder!

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 10 years ago

This is the only house I have inspected by this particular builder, Tish, and it is the source of lots of blog fodder.

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

Yikes.  Looks like some real fundamental issues here.  Over the weekend, I was in a house where everything was built over 100 yrs ago.  Everything was on a slant.  We weren't sure what to do with the bathroom - if we leveled it, it would then be out of whack w/ everything else. Instead, we are opting for fixing and reinforcing subfloor and doing small mosaic tile that can go on slant.  Oh, and this powderoom is what used to be a closet.  Crazy.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 10 years ago

Well, Debbie, older homes often have slants and dips.  It can be due to many things, but usually they indicate structural issues. If the settlement has discontinued then building up the sub floor will help with the slant.

Hopefully in that closet/PR the slant is toward the door so if there are leaks the tile will carry it somewhere else!  Of course, that probably makes for a trip hazard as you go into the room!  ;)

My grandmother's house in Chevy Chase, my childhood stomping grounds, was finished in 1908.  No slanted floors, fortunately.

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

What a nightmare Jay.  A real collection of everything you shouldn't do.  By the way, it really makes me wonder what else they did or didn't do.

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

This house held a plethora of blog fodder topics Jack!  You will be seeing them soon in a theater near you.

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

Billy J sure gets around in your neighborhood doesn't he Jay?

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

Jay, I appreciate the blog and the explanation of the deficiencies.  I recently had a home inspected by a home inspector mandated by a relocation company who failed to note that the wood burning chimney had been cut off when the roof was replaced and capped.

Pretty big deal to my buyers.

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) over 10 years ago

Him, Charlie, or Uncle Bob.  Either way, it's a bad job!

Damon - that sounds like a big deal!  I would be leary of anyone that is forced on you by the company moving the seller!

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

Jay,

You got all sorts weird stuff going on there.

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

Jay- What the inspection will do is give the buyer a heads up on those potential leak problems. If those problems were found on the outside, what did the inside look like?

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 10 years ago

That's because we have a lot of construction going on here Steve!  The two things follow.

Eric - it is hard to tell inside because there is so much staining.  On new construction it is hard to tell when the staining occurred.  Last weekend we had 5" of rain, and you probably got a lot of that too.  This problem isn't the leaking so much as it is the long-term deterioration of all that wood structure.

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

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