What I'm Seeing Now


Every Mistake Possible On One Brand-New Roof

Doing a new construction inspection, with a flat, front-porch EPDM roof, it's hard to do, but I found every mistake possible on one brand-new roof.

For the client, to say it was disappointing would not begin to approach their true feelings.  This house provided me 8.5 pages of notes, and I write my notes in shorthand.

EPDM is a synthetic rubber roof, made by Firestone.  Properly installed it is a great product.  Poorly installed the roof can have rotting within a couple of years.

This is what every post on the guardrail over the porch looked like.

Obviously uninformed as to how to do seams, this "installer" simply piled layer upon layer of material.

Under and all around each post!

See how the subsurface is already sinking?

There should be no puddles on an EPDM roof - the material can't handle it!

And never mind gluing the edges!

Of course the edges must be glued.  But even when they are the top of the edge is not left exposed like that.

There is a special way to finish the edge, and a professional installer would know that.

See what's going on in the background, against the brick?

Yes, the EPDM is merely left vertically pushed against the brick.

That is not flashing!

And all along the roof!




This front porch is the last thing they did on the house during construction.

You are looking at a surface that is less than one month old.

It is already puckering, bubbling, ponding water and loose.

That is because this synthetic rubber had been glued directly to the oriented-strand board subsurface.  That's okay IF THE OSB WAS CLEANED AND PRIMED PROPERLY FIRST.

Not only does the glue not stick well unless it's cleaned and primed, but it is a very rough material and there is little surface for the glue to stick to.

Firestone has many recommendations as to better subsurfaces to use.  They even make one!

Firestone even offers a free on-line course to demonstrate how to install this stuff!  It's, um, free!

This roof is how the inspection began on this house, costing well over $1 million.

Like I said, 8.5 pages of shorthand notes!

You want one more?

This is what counted for caulking all over the house.

This builder needs to stop raiding the local elementary school for fourth graders who will work for cheap.

I joke about that, but that is precisely what is going on here - "professionals" hired because they are cheap.

Forget experience.  Forget skill.  Forget pride and craftsmanship.  Forget it.

This is what we have now!

And it stinks.

My recommendation:  don't count on the house to be your dream house until you examine it thoroughly and go as high into the organization as it takes to get the builder to present a final product that you are proud of.  Who is the boss here anyway?  I was already on the bad-boy list with this builder because on the pre-drywall inspection on this house I had the nerve to suggest that the flaps on each side of insulation was to facilitate stapling to secure the insulation to the studs forever.  You would have thought I wanted them to fly to Mars!  Finally, after presenting the builder with a multiplicity of links I provided, my client got them to relent on stapling the insulation.  Why have to fight over that?  STAPLING INSULATION IS BASIC!!  If I was the supervisor I would be embarrassed to my toes to walk through this house with my clients on the "reveal."  I'm going to expect that he will not say everything I identified in the voluminous report, NOT IN SHORTHAND, is "already on my list 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 40 commentsJay Markanich • October 17 2013 04:53AM


Wow. Yeah, this is pretty sad.  So sorry for your buyers.  This just stinks.  - Debbie

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) almost 7 years ago

Gee.  Think how many mistakes the builder could have made on a $2 million love shack?

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) almost 7 years ago

Discount builder? Seems like the standards are lacking when it comes to quality.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

and here I always thought EPDM stood for "Every Possible Dumb Mistake"

Posted by Edward Hamill, Market Leader / CBInTouch Expert (NRT Southeast / Coldwell Banker) almost 7 years ago

How dare you ask for things to be properly. This honest builder is just trying to make several thousand bucks!

Seriously though, that's just awful craftsmanship. You're like the dark night for soon to be home owners, swooping in and saving them from financial disaster.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) almost 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

At least you are able to speak the language of the professional workers they got to do the job. Make 'em fix everything

Ouch. Many don't even have a Q C manager. Let alone a follow up proceedure for quality.

Have a great day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 7 years ago

Sad to think you can spend that much money and yet not expect some quality in the home.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) almost 7 years ago

How you say it??? You get what you pay for and a whole lot more. I love being on a contractors bad guy list. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) almost 7 years ago

Jay: How can you even fix all that on the new roof? And how is it that this builder gets away with this shoddy work?

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) almost 7 years ago

The real tragedy here is that you probably see some glaring issue on almost every new construction you inspect regardless of the price of the home. I showed a new one million dollar house that had a finished basement with wood flooring. The concrete had not been sealed properly and the floor looked like ocean waves it was buckled so bad.

Posted by Harold Smith (Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices) almost 7 years ago

Hi Jay, excellent information for all the buyers to be aware of buying new homes without inspection. The work description reminds me of " the builder get what he pay for" 

Posted by Kwee Huset, Venice Florida Homes For Sale (Kwee Huset Realty) almost 7 years ago

Jay, New home inspection I think maybe one of the most critical things to have done. Good to have a good inspection performed before all is well down the road.

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


I had to read this to my hubby this morning - it is just about unbelieveable... til you get to the staple the drywall!  Seriously this is where the homeowner should have fired the contractor!  Wow Wow and WOW - unbelievable!  Thanks for the coffee entertainment this morning!!!!!

Posted by Elise Harron, Rural Vacant Land and Development Specialist (Dirt Road Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

If I was the home buyer,  I would not close on the home.

Posted by Sacramento Grapevine (SacramentoGrapevine) almost 7 years ago

Looks more like a tarp than a roofing material.... oh, it's not even a good tarp! Looks like you had a nice rain to help you in your evaluation. 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 7 years ago

A million dollar house and this is how they build it? Run, don't walk, to another new construction development.

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA almost 7 years ago

I think so too Cousin WOW.  There was so much here that really was pathetic.

Mike - well, the ones I found added up to quite a few!

No Gary.  You have heard of this builder, generally respected for high-end homes.  At least in this area.  But, as I say, the product is only as good as the supervisor on site and the subs.

Not bad Edward.  And often, when I see it, that is what it stands for!

Suzanne - the wife has offered me their loft room to stay in any time I want to come over!  It has a private bath too!

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

Clint - I asked the guy pressure washing the garage floor what psi he was using, and he had no idea what I was talking about!  And in his language...

Chuck - there was little to no quality here, at least in workmanship.

Scott - this same builder banned me from a neighborhood 20 years ago for identifying the stamp in the roof sheathing that said, "Install this side up."  It caused them to remove the roof, and cedar shakes, and redo the whole thing!  My fault, of course.

Heila - obviously a new roof, done professionally, is needed.  But I don't say that on a report.

Harold - that is called "ignorant installation."  And yes, I have many problems on new construction of every price.

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

Kwee - well said, short and sweet.

Don - we preach that, and some hear and some don't.

Elise - there are many contractors on new construction!  You don't know any of them!  They had some interaction with the supervisor and said to me that they saw some of the things that I pointed out, but did not realize it was a problem!

SG - they have some time to get things done.  Some of the things, like that roof, will need more time than that to rectify.

Fred - that was the sprinkler that they had, unbelievably, pointed upward at a 75 degree angle and it soaked the roof!

Cynthia - this is a great location, built where they dreamed it would be and have saved a long time.  They are way into this process and simply want the house to be right.

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

Jay -- it is a good thing that the buyers had the foresight to hire you, so that you could catch some of these problems before they got into the house and had much less leverage.   It is a shame that quality workmanship seems to be a dying commodity.

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

I really think it stinks Steven.  People think they are saving a buck by hiring cheap.  Not so.

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

Jay, we always recommend a home inspection for new construction. Unfortunately, new homeowners just don't believe that a new home builder would do shoddy work. I'll be sharing this with them as an example in the future. Thanks.

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) almost 7 years ago

I run across problems on every new home inspection Tom.  Some egregious, some not so, but always.

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

Was this a small local custom home builder or a major company?

Posted by Sylvia Jonathan, Broker Associate, SFR (Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties) almost 7 years ago

This is a large national company Sylvia, of whom you have heard.

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

This is crazy how does this kind of poor work pass an inspection with the city/county or whoever is signing off giving them the CO???

Does anyone care anymore or has our fearless leaders stripped that away from the majority these days???

Posted by David Shamansky, Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg (US Mortgages - David Shamansky) almost 7 years ago

"Embarrassed to your toes" is right...Yicks !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 7 years ago

Hard to believe a builder of such an expensive home can do the job that doesn't reflect that price. 

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

David - because they walk through the house in a couple of minutes and check smoke detectors and GFI receptacles...

S&D - I sure would be.

Jim - it is hard to believe (says he, with a drippingly sarcastic cough...).

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

Jay, it's all too common that many hire professionals for cheap and as you found out, more times than not you pay for what you get. It's almost criminal in what some contractors will do.

Posted by Lynn Pineda, Real Estate Promises delivered in SE Florida (eXp Realty) almost 7 years ago

Like a nightmare for the folks who paid to have it done.  I would like to be a fly on the wall for the conversation with the installer, and maybe even a city building inspector who should have signed off on the finished product?


Posted by Jim Beitz (Keller Williams Success Realty) almost 7 years ago

Great post, Jay! Your clients are very lucky to have you to look out for them.

Posted by Laura Foreman, Copywriter, Buffini & Company (Referral Maker Real Estate CRM) almost 7 years ago

I agree, what a great post.  The assumption that new construction should be in perfect condition sure is a big mistake for any buyer of a new construction home.  

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

There is just no excuse for this kind of shoddy workmanship. Ridiculous!

Posted by Vanessa Saunders, From Manhattan to the Catskills of New York (Global Property Systems Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Maybe it would be helpful in the contract to require that all work shall be completed in a timely, professional and workmanship like manner, according to building and safety codes, industry standards and manufacturer specifications, instructions and recommendations.  Would a professional quality builder object to that? 

Posted by Jerry Lucas, Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training (ABC Legal Docs LLC) almost 7 years ago

And things like that are exactly why folks need to do inspections on brand new homes. 

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) almost 7 years ago

Lynn - the builder said to the buyers that since I took the class offered by this manufacturer the installation techniques have changed and I am incorrect in my thinking!  Well, we'll see about that!

Utah - the county would not get up to look as closely at this as I did.  Which is part of the problem here I think.

Laura - see my comment to Lynn above!  Again, we'll see, but thanks!

Morgan - that's a poor assumption and, as we all know, something happens when we assume!

Vanessa - that was my thinking too, but right now I am persona non grata with the builder!

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

I have never read the contract, Jerry, but suspect it reads just like that!  And, it's subjective to be sure!

Marc - the builder is firm in his position too.  That's when I get to work.


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

Wow! That certainly is poor workmanship and a flat roof needs all the attention to detail it can get.

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) over 6 years ago

Wayne - that builder was so sure I was wrong they invited Firestone to the house to have a look at the roof.  The Firestone agent looked at it, and my report, and said that not only was I right, but that my contention that these kinds of mistakes are likely elsewhere in the neighborhood was probably also correct.

He investigated other houses and made the builder tear the EPDM roofs off of all of them!  The next time I was in the neighborhood I was treated like a rock star by the residents...

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

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