What I'm Seeing Now


PVC Trim - Best Practices

Something I am seeing more and more of during new construction inspections is PVC trim around windows and doors.  And why not?  It does not rot, warp, split, crack or fade.  It accepts paint easily. 

Why not!?

The windows all around this large sun room are very efficient. 

They are insulated very well.

And the outside all around this room is surrounded by PVC trim.

Even looking at it up close it is hard to tell that it is PVC!

It looks just like wood.

However, the "carpenter," if I can call the contractor that, because carpentry is traditionally known as a wood-working trade, the carpenter's skill is essential.

PVC trim acts like wood, but it is easier to mis-cut and mis-fit. 

If a mistake is made, putty and caulking are not so easily employed to "hide" the fact!

Just to prove how beautiful this job was, look at the following photo:

This is looking at the left corner near the downspout.

I think it is a job well done!

The miters are tight, nail holes are filled, and gaps are sealed in a way that makes them look naturally fit together.

To me this looked great!

To me this is

Best Practice

And I would like to see more of it!

On this particular house, one thing was very obvious to me.

The same person(s) did not work on the window trim as did on other aspects of the house.

For example, in contrast, this is just one very-poorly done spot on the front door porch roof.

The ends were not cut straight or smoothed out.

Nail holes were not filled.

Miters were not well done.

Ding spots from the hammer were clearly visible.

The caulking done to hide the poor joints is ugly.

Overall, many aspects on the rest of the house were not, clearly NOT, done by the same professional(s) as worked on the window trim.

I found it disgusting.

And this is not a cheap house! 

The buyer was not at the inspection, which necessitated not only explaining myself very clearly on the report but taking photos to show what I am describing.

He called me last night (their walk through is this morning) and agreed with me.  Well, naturally!


Reading what he read on the report, and seeing what he saw on the photos, will surely help MY CLIENT to make the great, and important case, that some things need to be done over!

My recommendation:  on new construction inspections, just prior to the final walk through, it is important to compare some aspects of the house with others.  That way the case can be made, if necessary, that all the work done was not done to the same standards.  Or maybe it was!  That is another case I like to make very much, but unfortunately do not have as much opportunity to do.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 28 commentsJay Markanich • December 15 2011 07:42AM


I use it all the time, in homes that we flip. Nothing works better. Great post.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) over 7 years ago

Good post with very good photos to demonstrate your point on workmanship. Thanks for posting.

Posted by George Bennett, Inactive Principal Broker, GRI (Inactive) over 7 years ago

Good for you Joe.  I like it when I see it!

George - thanks, there were more demonstrating both!  But as you say, these will suffice!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Good morning, Jay....if the builder pays attention to detail, the builder would have found those flaws and corrected them....since he didn't, I suppose it might be very difficult for the buyer to require that certain areas be redone....that's a cosmetic factor...would redoing a cosmetic hold up in court is the buyer didn't perform until it was corrected???  I question that.....it's not structural or mechanical and it's not going to leak and cause future problems....it's just ugly...

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 7 years ago

Jay~Great example of Best Practices. Having sold new construction for several years, I can attest to how some builders try and bully buyers into accepting something less than desirable. Great post!

Have an AWESOME day!





Posted by Michael S. Bolton, MN Appraiser (Michael S. Bolton,Inc.) over 7 years ago

I don't know either Barbara.  But I have never heard of anything like that going to court.  Who knows, but the buyer did ask me last night to go back and look at the repairs once done, so he certainly has that in his head!

Michael - they do.  In speaking with my client last night I don't think he will be an easy blob to roll over!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

ONce again you might have great materials but if you don't have quality installation then it does not matter, you pay a little more but it is well worth it.


Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) over 7 years ago

Jay, do you know if they recycle this product at all, seeing that it is PVC it would not decompose, what do you do with all the scraps?

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay - I have said this before--buyers need their own representation on new construction.  So many people think that because a house is new that they don't need an agent.  If the buyer had an agent, issues that are noted in the inspection report could have been addressed before the final walkthough.  Just like in a resale!

Posted by Peggy Chirico, REALTOR® 860-748-8900, Hartford & Tolland County Real Estate (Prudential CT Realty) over 7 years ago

Jay, Worlds apart in the quality of the two different aspects of the home.  The second looks like something I'd have done....but I'm an amateur with no doubts about it!  Bill

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 7 years ago

Good morning, Jay.

     Down here we have a term for these dolts. We call them "Wood Butchers" and they had outta be arrested! What they do to the house is a real crime...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Thanks for the "Best Practices" Jay, it makes readers aware of the different quality of builders. Pinting these items out here, makes us more aware out there. Thanks for the continuous sharing of your knowledge Jay.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 7 years ago

You know, it's really great having someone independent looking at this.  You see the whole spectrum from crummy to outstanding work.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 7 years ago

This is some good-looking PVC trim! However, I assume it is solid PVC, right? Not encased wood trim?

I have the latter around my house (the previous owners had the trim encased), and have always wondered what it looks like underneath the PVC. Wouldn't that be a potential breeding ground for mold and rot, given that it's probably impossible to prevent moisture intrusion 100%? Have you seen any such cases when the plastic layer is peeled off twenty years later?

Would love to know.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 7 years ago

Jay -- The Best Practices part of this with the window moldings is outstanding.  As you wrote, it is clear the person doing the other work did not hold themselves to the same standard.  Didn't "mom" used to say "if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well"?

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 7 years ago

Jay I have this problem with new stuff and the installation of it.  Many "Carpenters" don't stay up on the ways to install new products.  Although, your Best Practices installation is great, many are not because of the lack of CE in the trades.

By the way, the house does look really good.  The best part of PVC is the lack of absorbency.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 7 years ago

Jay, I always find the discussion about the energy efficiency of windows interesting.  Even the best windows---triple pane with argon, UV films and foamed vinyl cores, likely only get the window up to about R-5---but because this 5 times better than R-1 we are impressed :)  It is also a little disingenous to call these triple pane windows R-5 because it is really more related to U-factor than the r value through the actual glass part---that part is still not going to be much over r-3, if that.  Improving the overall u-value is awesome---but this could be done with regular double pane windows and then you would not have twice the opportunity for seal failure that is present with triple pane.  Spend the money on thicker walls and better air sealing and eliminating fiberglass as a "choice" of insulation type.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Far too many sloppy tradesmen in the field today.  And, I'm sure this builder would let this slide if he could have.  Oy vey!

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 7 years ago

That window trim looks great, but far too often I see PVC trim look like the other picture. Too bad.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

David - the skill of the installer is everything!  And builders that are smart do recycle such things as this PVC and it is totally recyclable.

That is very true Peggy.  I think buyers and agents are coming around to that.

Bliz - such differences in workmanship (or the lack o' that) indicates two different installers to me!

Michael - do you have PVC butchers too?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Tom - interestingly, this is the same house, same builder, same supervisor but TWO different qualities of installation.  My client was not pleased when he saw the photos!

Debbie - and all that on the same house.  The hardwoods were gorgeous, 4" and some exotic I cannot identify!

This is solid Catarina.  And that makes a huge difference in the long run.

Steven - interestingly the supervisor did not hold them to the same standard either!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jack - this molding has been out a while, as you know.  But that does not mean that everyone is up on how to install it.  But when done right, it's great.

I did not see any stickers on any windows Charlie, as they are ready to convey this house and had removed them all.  I did see the greenish tint though and this is supposed to be an efficient house.  Most of these kinds of windows I am seeing lately have a U-factor of .33.  I did seen some once with .15, but they were replacement windows, not installed by a builder.  But overall, I can't really comment on these windows' efficiencies.

Mike - I don't know how long this has looked like that, but the supervisor sure let it go!

Jim - yeah, but I am only seeing it on high-end houses.  You'd think the builder would want to preserve a reputation by quality control of the installation!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Great example of how different trades on a site can make a big difference. 

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 7 years ago

This might be the same trade Cindy, and even the same subcontractor!  But certainly different guys with different skills did these two jobs.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, That is cool stuff I have worked with it a little. But any product can be butchered by a butcher ; ) I do not see too much of it in my neck of the woods.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

When well done it looks like well-done wood trim Don.  When butchered ... you see it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay thanks for highlighting the advantages of PVC as a trim material.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

You're welcome Chris.  This is good stuff!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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