When I saw this, all over the roof of this 32 year old townhouse, and knew that the shingles were 10 or 12 years old, I wondered, "Is this new FRT plywood acting like old FRT plywood?"
The famous FRT, required by fire-code law on townhouses, stands for Fire Retardant Treated plywood. They began using it in the 80s when the masonry fire walls between units disappeared.
Firewalls between townhouse units are now composed of very thick, and fire-rated, drywall essentially. And between roofs is a minimum of 4' of FRT plywood. Combining that with fiberglass asphalt shingles, which do not burn, it is considered good enough fire protection to provide enough time for the fire department to extinguish any blaze.
When it first came out the fire-retardant chemicals caused problems.
The plys in the wood would separate, the wood peeled and "dripped," discolored, retained moisture, produced efflorescence from the salts, sagged, spit out nails, and generally did not respond well to the chemicals.
That has since been corrected.
However, FRT is stamped with the brand. It is stamped so the local jurisdictional authority can look at it and determine that it is fire rated wood.
THE CODE REQUIRES THAT THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES DETERMINE IF IT IS FIRE RATED, SO A PERMIT IS REQUIRED TO REPLACE SHEATHING WITH FRT, OR OLD FRT WITH NEW FRT, AND THAT THEY VERIFY THE STAMP.
In this house there were no stamps and all over the wood looked like the photo above. There was severe moisture retention and efflorescence. It was peeling and "dripping." It looked like the old FRT, but had been replaced! I duly noted this on the report and suggested that a roofer come to determine a course of action.
A roofer the agent called came to say they probably "forgot" the stamps, that it is indeed FRT and what we are seeing is "common."
WELL, NOT FROM MY EXPERIENCE! I haven't seen FRT do this in a couple of decades! And how did the county approve it and close the permit, without stamps?
So I contacted the County and a couple of roofers I trust. They said the same thing. The county said that some of the very new FRT is painted red on the edges in lieu of the stamp, but that it's visible. There is no red edge anywhere here. This is older stuff than that. The county called me, the inspector was very interested, but admits that this may be older than they are storing permits for. They also both said this is NOT common.
I contacted the realtor and my client with the roofer's information. I did not mention the county.
The realtor, who has known me a number of years, sent me a note saying that she realizes I have the client's best interests at heart, but I should NOT have "emailed [her] clients" with my findings, which "negated" what the roofer said.
Um, her clients? And my findings were no different than what I said on the report, I merely buttressed them. It ended, "I hope you have concluded your investigation for my client."
Translation? Don't throw any more wrenches into my deal.
My recommendation: sometimes your home inspector might do "further investigation." That's a home inspector Best Practice! If it's different than what he originally said, he will probably let you know. And he will probably let you know if it agrees with what he originally said, even if it "negates" what someone else says. And this because he INDEED has the client's best interests at heart, and the realtor's!
Um, they "forgot" the stamps? Really?
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560