What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

Drywall Screw Happy - 3 of 3

This is the final post about drywall screws used in places they should not be.  To reiterate, this is new construction, and all three posts came about because of a single pre-drywall inspection on a $1.5 million house.

The reasoning behind building a new house, and an expensive one, is to get what you pay for.  You are hoping not to inherit pre-existing problems or those left over by previous homeowners.  That is good logic.

Which brings us to drywall screws.

This is a view of the master shower, large, two shower heads, and a seat at one end.

Notice the black iron pipe sticking out from the seat?

That is for a steam unit to be installed just behind.  In addition to being a shower, this will be a steam room too.

Excellent!

The shower pan is properly lined with the typical 40 mil PVC membrane.  It is a good product.  The seat is strong and the shower is properly framed.

Notice, if you can, how well the membrane is attached.  There are many holders.  And this is important.  That membrane is essential to the proper functioning of the area, and the tile on the floor, lower walls and seat.  It is the only waterproof seal!

So far, so good.

Until you look closely!  A good product is only as good at it's installation.  And this is a DISASTER!

1.  The membrane is rumpled on the floor.
2.  There are cuts everywhere.  The membrane should not be cut and fastened to itself. 
3.  The seat should be a single piece and where it overlaps the membrane running up the wall it should be glued, NOT PENETRATED.  The fewer the penetrations the better.
4.  It should only be fastened at the top, and then with galvanized or aluminum nails with large heads.
5.  There are a whole bunch of drywall screws holding that product into place!  And they are screwed down really, really tightly.  They are everywhere!
6.  This is going to be a really hot, really moist area!  Drywall screws will rust, pop through the membrane and cause the studs behind rot!

So, how is the shower liner best held into place?  WITH A PROPERLY-INSTALLED CEMENT BOARD!  And one NOT put up with drywall screws or interior drywall nails!

If you research how to install shower pan membranes, dozens of sites pop up.  Many are provided by ceramic tile manufacturers!  Why?  Because when an improperly-installed pan fails (meaning the membrane), they don't want their tile to be blamed!  Here is what this tile manufacturer had to say about shower liners:

"The sheet membrane is sealed to the top of the drain base. That means water is routed from the liner sheet to the lower drain holes in the special shower drain. That's how water that seeps through the shower floor gets in the drain and not in the subfloor. The liner is folded in the corners so there are no cuts. But to get the liner over the curb, there must be some cuts. One way to seal at the cuts is to use special dam pieces which are glued in place at every corner to perfectly seal at joints. Also no fasteners should be put in the liner except near the very top of the liner and on the outside of the curb, and then only with galvanized or non-rusting, large-head fasteners. The shower liner is always installed over a sloped base to insure that water never pools in the shower floor. Water that makes it to the liner runs right toward the drain. Don't even think about installing a shower pan liner over a flat floor. That's a guaranteed problem ceramic tile shower."

Their step-by-step guide is excellent!  Notice the last two lines.   Having just read that you probably know more about how to install shower liners than the "professional" who installed this one.

My recommendation:  Always have a home inspection.  Always have a pre-drywall inspection.  It is the only way to see this example of work that will definitely be a problem down the road for somebody.

Including YOUR client...

 

 

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 48 commentsJay Markanich • February 09 2011 06:39AM

Comments

I hope these homes don't pass inspection Jay but I have seen a lot of scary things that have just been approved.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 9 years ago

Good Morning Jay. 

All I can do is shake my head. Did you bring this up to the MGR. on site? What was the response?

I am an inspector that they "don't like to see comeing in the drive". I call out things they thought they "have hidden well". 

With all the builder wanting to get on the "green building bandwagon" they should first be trained and then the crew. Sometimes I have to laugh at what we see.

Good post,

Clint McKie

Desert Sun Inspections and Energy Audits

Carlsbad, New Mexico

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 9 years ago

  Going thru the expense of having to this homeowner was "the shower of her/his dreams" to have it ALMOST ruined by someone determined to make it a nightmare.....urgh....enter "Save the Day Jay"....I am sure the homeowners are happy.....and the contractor...hmmm...just what he deserves to be....

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 9 years ago

If you are referring to the County inspection, Randy, they will never see this.  And if they did maybe don't even know.  My experience with them is that when they come into a house they are looking for the broad-stroke problems like structure, wiring protection, plumbing leaks, etc.  They don't spend much time and are not interested in minutia (as I am on a pre-drywall inspection).

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Clint - the supervisor was not with us and I leave it up to the client to bring this up with him after I CLEARLY spell it out for the client.  I hope to do a final inspection and don't want to be barred from the site.  Builders have done this in the past to me when they thought I was too "difficult" on their work...

We'll see what happens S&D.  I intend to sneak back to see what was done, and/or re-done.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

And it will look very nice when it's all COVERED UP.  No pre-drywall inspection?? and that's just what will occur. 

 

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I'm sure it will look nice Lenn.  Unless the tile guy can't measure!  But the real benefit of a pre-drywall inspection is something like this - I think this problem is guaranteed to manifest, but can't predict when.  When it does it will be very expensive to deal with.

And well beyond the warranty!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay - Unless the building inspector catches this, how is the consumer to know?

Posted by Conrad Allen, Webster, Ma, Realtor (Re/Max Professional Associates) over 9 years ago

(PNTT) pay no 'tention tuit. Once the grout and tile is installed, no one will ever know...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I never knew this about time bomb. Another good reason for a qualified home inspector.

Posted by John Combs (Alan Deblat Real Estate Corp.) over 9 years ago

Jay,

Unfortunately, the price of the house is never an indicator or guarantee of a quality product, as you have so clearly documented.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 9 years ago

Wow!  Another informative post, thanks.  I wonder Jay, how many homes have problems like this just waiting to be recognized?

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) over 9 years ago

Ma Conrad - by hiring a home inspector who is informed as to proper building techniques and best practices!

Michael - as you know, that is the usual final result!

John - keep reading!  Home inspector posts are intended to be instructive.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Mike - one thing does not necessarily follow the other!

Ken - I would think it is over 90%, but I am a true (and trained by experience) cynic!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,  I've really enjoyed this series of posts because it's not something I'm too familiar with.  Thank you for the great information.

Posted by Kimberly A Norgard (Devlin McNiff Halstead Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Kimberly - I am very glad!  I wish drywall screws were actually used to hang drywall!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

ok. I played a little game here. I looked at the picture first before reading your low-down. You thought me well, I figured out couple of problems on my own! Yeah me! But will not replace a home inspector, yet! lol

Posted by Lydie Ouellet Dickinson, Realtor (Realty Executives Tri County, Bellingham MA) over 9 years ago

Lydie - we all learn, hopefully all the time!  The day I think I know everything will not come.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay, if you get what you pay for, it appears in some areas $1.5M does not buy you a lot.  Thanks for the posts.

Posted by Dale Ganfield over 9 years ago

In this case, Dale, 1 acre and a big house!  Well done this would be a beautiful house!  A show piece.  A builder would do well to make it shine.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, The series has been pretty informative.  Something most of us wouldn't even begin to know about or suspect as an issue.  Thanks!

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 9 years ago

Jay - Strangely, drywall screws also present a problem for the shower pan in later stages of construction . . . and it's a problem of which few are aware.  When the drywall is finally installed, the drywall hangers stand on the shower pan to install drwyall on the ceiling.  They drop screws and then step on them, puncturing the membrane. 

When I first began building I tried to protect the liner by covering it, but found the best solution to not allowing the plumber to install the pan.  My tile contractor, a meticulous craftsman, installed the membrane for me, taking much more care than the plumber . . . and I never had shower pan leaks on any of his jobs.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 9 years ago

Thanks again Jay for the continuing education. As I've said before I had no idea there was such a thing as pre-drywall inspections, now I see how essential they are.

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor (Ward County Notary Services) over 9 years ago

Again, I am glad to hear that Bliz!  I think that's the crux of most home inspector posts on AR.

That is a great practice John.  Yes, punctures are a problem.  And rusting stains when they fall and are left in a plastic pan!

Bob - as essential as a home inspection later upon a purchase!  In my opinion...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading these posts, Jay, this last one just as much as the others.  Thanks for walking us through your inspection.

Posted by Virginia Gardner, Realtor, Charlottesville, Serving Central Virginia (Roy Wheeler Realty Co.) over 9 years ago

Oh, Virginia, this was just one of the problems with this house!  But I am very glad you have enjoyed them.  I have learned that most people have never considered such a thing as drywall screws used inappropriately.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

At 1.5 million you would think building a QUALITY home would start at the bottom and work it's way up.

Good thing for the pre inspection or the new owner would br getting screwed ( yes I did)

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor-Homes for Sale- Easton Mass (New England Real Estate Center Inc.) over 9 years ago

Nice series, Jay. Now you have me worried about my home! Too bad we can't x-ray our bathrooms to find out what type of screws were used ... or not.

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA over 9 years ago

I cannot wait to hear an update when you go back since you addressed this with your clients. I am interested to see if all these issues were remedied.

Thank you for these 3 great posts.

Posted by Craig Zuber, Eagle Idaho Real Estate (Zuber Group Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Sadly, People trust the contractors and believe if it is new, that nothing will be wrong and therefore an inspection is not needed. I have not done as many new construction or phase inspections recently since the economic slow down, but a few years ago in the "hay day" they were building so fast that it was hard to inspect them all and deficiencies abound. Sometimes the "cheap" hired help has no experience, and ends up costing the contractor more in the long run. Nice blog.

Posted by Brian Persons, Certified Master Inspector (Brian Persons Front Range Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Jay, this series was so informative!  I am about to have my master bathroom redone and you can be sure that I will be watching out for the shower membrane!  Luckily, I trust my contractor but as the Gipper said, "Trust, but verify."

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 9 years ago

"You would think," Don, you would think!  It isn't the products here that are the only things getting screwed!

Cynthia - sorry to worry you, but at this point there's not much that can be done!

Craig - I do want to slip back by and see what's up when the drywall is installed.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Brian - there is no great explosion in new housing now, but nonetheless deficiencies are all around!  I call the unprofessional work "7-11 construction."  You get why, I am sure.

Kathryn - if you were to post pictures of what is being done, as it is being done, you would probably be inundated with comments from inspectors!  And don't expect them all to agree!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, that whole thing is just so bad and wrong.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Yepper Charlie.  That is going to be a big problem for somebody somewhere down the road.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Nice.  I find a lot of leaking tiled showers, and it's always a HUGE expense to tear the whole thing out and start over.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Jay, and the worst part about all this is that as you said it would all look nice only to fail later on. Possibly after the house has been sold to yet another unsuspecting buyer. Very informative and well thought out series. I know of a few local contractors that would benefit from reading this series. 

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 9 years ago

Even more so, Reuben, if the floor has become compromised.  And where would that happen?  Anywhere there is a puncture, to be sure, but especially around the drain.  Big deal 'tis...

Sue - of course!  This is why these clients are buying new!  They bought the house they live in now, which is only five years old, to find many hidden problems that the sellers likely didn't know about.  Now here they are buying something that perhaps, unknown to them, they will sell to someone else with all these kinds of problems!

A screw!  A screw!  My kingdom for a screw!  All it takes is knowing how to do something right in the first place...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Wow...what the heck!?!  Did they not READ directions before first trying this (apparently for the first time)?

I assume your recommendation was to replace the shower pan with a new, non-punctured one?

Wow.

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

Talk about a mess! Once again you have to wonder about the job some people do! Thank heaven for home inspectors!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 9 years ago

I don't make recommendations, Jeremy, just observe and report.

And then blog!

Barbara-Jo - it is an industry of wonderment!  I wonder every day...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, so now it's up to the builder and the owner/customer to work out what will be done? 

Do most homeowners know what they should do (i.e. stick to their guns on this one!), or do things that show up on the inspection often get left done incorrectly?

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

Jeremy - I think that's why they have a contract and an agent to act as negotiator/protector.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I sure hope so!

Thanks!

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 9 years ago

Like I said they have a big bucket of them screws kickin' round the job site. Also I bet those screws are way cheaper than glue.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Welkommen Jeremy!

Jim - they sure seem to be.  They are everywhere, except in drywall!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay , it is so foolish for the builder / installer to cut corners (sic) as it will cost thousands of dollars to fix later & hundreds to fix now ! The shower pan system is only as good as its weakest link . I'm also not a big fan of boxed benches . I like to leave it open underneath where possible , as people like to put their feet behind them & it feels akward to sit on a right angle . It also looks like a little more horizontal blocking would be critical here also . There are some great protective products available to protect the membrane during drywall installation , but my guess is they won't be used here . I like to wait until the last possible minute to install the membrane so there is less chance for negligent punctures . Keepin' it Green .

Posted by Edward D. Nikles (Ed Nikles Custom Builder , Inc. / Nikles Realty , Inc.) over 9 years ago

I knew that one would make your day Ed!  Showers can be a very, very bad deal when not done properly.  That seat is the cavity housing the steam machine.  You may be able to see the top of the access location right behind the left side of the seat.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments