What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

When You See One Problem On A New Roof, Others Will Likely Follow

This new house has a nearly flat EPDM (synthetic rubber) roof and when you see one problem on a new roof, others will likely follow.

This roofing material is made by Firestone.  They have very high regard for this product, and it demands total understanding when installing it on a roof.  Firestone even offers an installation course FREE, on line!

So, when I peek out a window and see immediate installation problems I know that the installer does not know how to install the material.

EPDM is an acronym meaning Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (M-class) and the thickness most often used on residential roofs is the 60mil product.  Depending on the amount of sunlight it gets, the expected life span is about 15 years.  With good installation longer!  With poor installation it will leak very quickly.

What did I see out windows?

There were improper seams, the edges were not finished properly, at the edge it glues to other glue with a gap and a screw nearby, there were sharp things left on the roof, bubbles and wrinkles everywhere, stains from puddles here and there, and little rocks had been glued underneath the roofing.  All this says that it was glued DIRECTLY to the OSB underlayment, which is a huge NO NO, already releasing inside of a couple of months, and will leak soon, soon, soon.

This installer has little knowledge of EPDM and how to install it.

Even worse...

Obviously, when you see a downspout elbow sitting on the roof (not visible from anywhere unless you go ONTO the roof) there is something missing.

And look.  The elbow sitting there obviously doesn't work.  And fitting and securing the proper elbow into that space at this point is next to impossible.

But still, even with the right elbow, this would discharge right onto the corner in the upper right photo above. 

A downspout should never discharge at the edge of an EPDM roof, or onto a corner.

THIS ROOF IS A DISASTER, SET UP FROM DAY ONE.

My recommendation:  you have heard often enough, new construction needs a home inspection just as much as older construction.  Just this simple examination of this new roof, combined with the home inspector's knowledge obtained directly from Firestone at their week-long class for interested students, has saved huge headaches and expense for this homeowner.  Always insist that inspections be done.

 

 

 

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 42 commentsJay Markanich • March 13 2013 02:13AM

Comments

Good Morning, Jay. Some folks just like to cut corners. Another justifiable case as to the reason folks MUST get an inspection...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Hi Jay, we agree.  We HAD a builder in town who had a poor reputation, unfortunately mostly due to the sub-contractors he used.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) almost 6 years ago
So Jay can the problem be corrected or will the roof have to be completely redone to correct the problem?
Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) almost 6 years ago

And, Michael, on this roof, they cut the corners improperly!

They need to figure that out Bob.  It will bite them in the short and long run.

This is wrong from top to bottom Charita.  EPDM must be nailed to a proper subsurface, able to handle glue and the rubber membrane.  The instructions are clear.  To install that underlayment at this point will require a tear off and redo.  The glue does not stick to OSB.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Good morning, Jay.... this is what happens when everyone and anyone who owns a truck and a hammer represents themselves as a builder....they keep you in business....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 6 years ago

Jay,  Is this product generally more difficult to install, thus making it more vulnerable to installation defects?

Thanks,

Posted by Rob Lyszczarz (RE/MAX Properties Unlimited) almost 6 years ago

That can certainly be true Barbara.  But this is the sub's problem.  I think the supervisor is at fault too.  Should the supervisor have understanding, at least general, of how to put this stuff on?  Yes, in my opinion.

Rob - the necessary underlayment is specially designed to work with this rubber.  It does not absorb the glue and helps prevent bubbles and wrinkles.  OSB is not an underlayment.  The edges must have proper terminations so they do not curl.  And NEVER glue pebbles under the surface.  The underlayment must be totally clean.  Yes, more difficult.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Since this is a complete roof job and not handiwork we all know Uncle Bob had nothing to do with it.  Hope all goes well Jay and you have a great day

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 6 years ago

Uncle Bob would have no idea how to install this stuff James, but that likely wouldn't stop him from trying.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, that's quite an education about EPDM roofing and it's proper installation. The Firestone link really showed how far the development of this product has come.  Thank you for the much needed information.

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) almost 6 years ago

It is pretty amateur Kevin, but no homeowner would probably attempt this!  The new homeowner was very grateful though!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

It's unfortunate, and problems with the roof seem to cause lots of problems for the house.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 6 years ago

Gee Jay...there you go again...now who couldn't use an extra elbow ....when it isn't attached...it can be versatile and used anywhere !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 6 years ago

This is a pretty large front porch roof Debbie, and will be a big problem just after the warranty expires!

S&D - frankly I can use an extra elbow.  I promise I will use it anywhere.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Always good to see a contractor who knows his abilities and doesn't take on things above his skill level.........oh wait....never mind.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) almost 6 years ago

It's amazing how many people will cobble together many patches on their roofs that in the long run will cost them so much more...

Posted by Matthew O'Hare almost 6 years ago

Rowdy reindeer can wreak havoc with touch and go landings on a roof when in a hurry. And the big round guy in red and white fur that looks like he has high blood pressure with the two books under his arms cracks the whip. Has been drinking too much egg nog with the sweetener, antifreeze stirred in for jet fuel. And misjudges the approach in very poor lighting, lousy weather.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) almost 6 years ago

Holy crap, this is just the biggest pile of hooey. Imagine the cost to rip it out and start over? 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) almost 6 years ago

Holy guacamole... none of that installation was right! If that was not Uncle Bob, it was his nephew! Vewwy vewwy sloppy.

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 6 years ago

Jay, I didn't know they used EPDM on residential homes. From the photos, it looks like a balcony. What is underneath it?

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 6 years ago

Thank you Jay for the blog.  It was interesting reading

Posted by Keith Lawrence, ABR, CDPE, SFR, 203K Specialist (RE/MAX Properties) almost 6 years ago

The problem with roof problems is when they go it damages everything in between.  It's not just the cost of the roof when it goes it's the drywall, the mold, the insulation, etc.

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) almost 6 years ago

Hi Jay,

What a bunch of crap. There is a whole case of goop on the sides of the application. IE the flashing and the fasteners.

Is this a torch grade installed improperly? And Yes every single home needs a home inspection no matter the age of the home.

Just askin' Have a great day in Bristow.

Best, Clint Mckie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 6 years ago

That is a bust. . I would hate to be the listing agents on this one. . 

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) almost 6 years ago

I know you are not amazed because you see so much of this type of thing on a regular basis, but I am still very disappointed to see such things out there...why, oh, why do people try to do things they don't know how to do?  And who hires them???

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) almost 6 years ago

Buyers should be concerned about poor roof installations, and in new construction. Can't say it enough how important home inspections are for a home buyer. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) almost 6 years ago

Jay, EPDM and TPO have pretty much gone away in my market with PVC being the choice in most single ply applications---that or granular coated Torchdown.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Tell me about it brother.  Just because a house is new doens't mean the builder did not cut corners.

Posted by Morris Massre, Real Estate Instructor Broward County Florida almost 6 years ago

Jay -- those pictures tell the story.  Too bad this is new house, and this much of problem already.   Might almost be understandable if it were 10+ years old (but not that elbow problem.)

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) almost 6 years ago

A man's gotta know his limitations, Than.

Matthew - not on my watch, if I can see it!

You're right Andrew.  Roof toast!

Scott - and THAT is what it's going to take!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Fred - it's a mess all around.  The supervisor asked the buyer to tell him of any major problems.  They were deep in conversation when I left!

It's a large front porch Mike.  That roof is probably 25' x 15'.

Glad you stopped in Keith, and especially that you enjoyed it.

You're right Marc.  Houses are systems and they all interact.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

The flashing was a separate issue Clint.  EPDM is not torched though, but glued.

It's a builder Fernando!  No listing agent!

Susan - in this case, the builder!  This roofer had other problems elsewhere too.

Pamela - I assure you that this buyer was concerned!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Charlie - this would be an appropriate surface properly installed.  So often lately I am seeing it not done right at all.

Morris - all corners that could be cut were here!

Steven - this would still be a problem at 10 years old, but this roof will never get there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, this roof is so bad that even I could have done a better job of installing it.  Well, maybe I could have spotted that it was funkily it was installed.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

I would bet you have enough experience/information that you could have done exactly that Pat.  To the chagrin of the "professional" roofer...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago
Homeowners definitely need contract completion inspections, no question. Sadly too few do. Some of these products don't meet fire codes in jurisdictions here. A white coloured EPDM is used in some suburb areas here. The installing contractor doesn't understand why it is not permitted to be used downtown, but I do.
Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 6 years ago

Some time ago I looked at a porch roof similar to this with an EPDM covering. It was a mess and said so in my report. I got a call a few days later from the roof who was hired to fix it. He basically asked me what was wrong with it. Is it any wonder this kind of installation happens. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 6 years ago

The white is 90mil and typically used for commercial here Robert.  It is terrific stuff.  But too expensive for builders to put on houses, unfortunately.  It's on wood framing, so I can't see where it adds to any fire danger.

Jim - wow.  Send him to the Firestone site so he can take the on line installation course!  Geez, get real.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago
The fire code concern here is spread of fire by burning embers coming into contact with the material. It is combustible as compared to a metal roof or a gravel covered surface. EPDM is used on commercial buildings here but it is weighted down and covered with river stone ( smooth rounded rock 4" minimum aggregate). This shields the EPDM from the direct sun and firemen have more time to deal with embers from burning neighbours.
Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 6 years ago

Interesting Robert.  I have never heard that.  But, as a Scoutmaster I fully understand burning and floating embers!

4" of aggregate on a roof would add a lot of weight!  And would be hard to walk on.

Firestone has many technical pages on the fire retardancy of its EPDM membranes.  I would think it would have to have chemical additives.   Here is one:     http://www.firestonebpco.com/templateFiles/includes/common/displayFile.ashx?fileId=2187

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

It's not that bad to walk on. For this application the EPDM is only attached at the hatch and sealed to drain flanges. It is not mechanically pierced or glued down. The rock layer keeps it in place.

Thanks for the firestone link.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 6 years ago

Firestone is very interesting in teaching people about their products Robert.  The class that I had there was enlightening and they treated us home inspectors like gold!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments