What I'm Seeing Now


Is This New FRT Plywood Acting Like Old FRT Plywood?

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.


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


Comment balloon 35 commentsJay Markanich • January 24 2014 04:10AM


Good Grief.  I could write a book here.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 6 years ago

That's caused by leaching Lenn.  And moisture retention.  I see it a little, little bit on some of the Dricon sheathing, but it's very little.  Nothing like this.

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

Jay- Shocking how the agent responded. We always need to put the clients bestinterest at heart and you were looking out for YOUR client.

Posted by Scott Fogleman, Greater Good Group (New Home Team 804-573-9592) over 6 years ago

Yes, I'm sure Lenn could write a book here. So many issues here.  Very disappointed by the agent's response.

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 6 years ago

Scott - let's just say I was STUNNED by the agent's response.  I actually wrote back to ask what I should do if "her" clients call their home inspector!  I get sarcastic like that, sometimes. 

I'm thinking of a post, probably Member's Only, in which I discuss clients and client relationships.

Me too Debbie.  And yes, she could.

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

I'm writing.  Sadly, I keep losing my ActiveRain login.  DRAT!

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Jay - You tok the high road on this one, just like you always do. Sad to see that some are not interest in the facts that are presented.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) over 6 years ago

Done.  If it's still posted. 

Link to more information HERE.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay.

The stamps or coding needs to be in place for the decking to be considered FRT. Not there then it's not FRT. Sounds pretty simple. I have had Realtors in the past with homes that had a bunch of issues say "send me the report only, then I will forward it to them IF WE DON'T HAVE TO MAKE ANY CHANGES TO IT" What?

Sorry but you are not the one that paid for the inspection. I even get permission to send a Copy to their agent. After all they are the client.

Have a better 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) over 6 years ago

I really appreciate the lengths you went to. Often inspectors are viewed as deal killers, but the only deal killers I have seen are the inspectors that shouldn't be in the business. I wish we could clone you for Oklahoma City.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 6 years ago

Don't know why you would lose your login Lenn.  Are "they" after you?  ;>)

Thanks Chuck.  They were interested in "facts" that they agree with!

I checked.  It's linked Lenn.

You said once that you put your reports in PDF form Clint.  How can they change that?  Amazing that they would think they could or should!

Thank you Joe.  So was the county guy who called me.  I'm just trying to do a good job.   The house is the house - I can't kill deals.

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

I am amazed, but not surprised (sadly) the agent would react that way.  It does make  me wonder if she brought in a roofer who had been coached  Good for you in being an advocate for YOUR client, at least. 

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

Good morning, Jay.... agents should stay the heck away from the inspector and the client during a home inspection.... open the door and sit somewhere in the house... let the inspection happen as it should....it keeps agents out of court.

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 6 years ago

Thansk for the lesson, again!  I was not familiar with FRT .  Throw a wrench?  Anything to protect the buyer should be the goal of a buyer's agent.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Jay, maybe she just forgot to say "our" client...kind of like the stamps??

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 6 years ago

Jay, I agree with Barbara (#13). Agents should not get involved in the inspection process. Your job is to report your findings, which you did. It appears they had some old FRT plywood and used that on the roof.

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

Great post Jay. I am glad you got to the bottom of this. I think the best part of our job is the investigations that benefit everyone...excpet maybe the listing agent ;)

Posted by Juan Jimenez, The Richmond Home Inspector (A House on a Rock Home Inspections LLC) over 6 years ago

If the agent is representing the buyers then she should be looking at more than one opinion.  A roof is a pricey item to ignore.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 6 years ago

Good morning Jay,

I would want to know the truth as how it may effect my client in the future!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 6 years ago

You're just doing your job! Jeez! It sounds like if she didn't want any "wrenches" thrown in her deal then she shouldn't have hired such an experienced home inspector.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 6 years ago

Oh you've inspired my post today.  Thanks for that.  

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 6 years ago

LOL, her client is your boss.

Everything you find out should go to the buyer that is not heresy or rumor.

Don't know why it would screw up the deal if there are permits and if there aren't permits, but the inspectors say it is okay, then....


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

wow, an old issue I have not heard about in a long time!  - as for the agents comments.... "Our client" no? 

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 6 years ago

Gosh - I would be happy to have you as an inspector.. I always want the best for my clients

Posted by Jill Saddler, Draper Utah Real Estate Professional - 25 years+! over 6 years ago

Another example of why i read Active Rain Blogs. Don't sell many townhomes but this is certainly something I will remember.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max By The Sea) over 6 years ago

Jay -- these buyers were lucky to have you as their inspector. I did not know about this at all.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 6 years ago

Hey Jay, can I borrow a wrench?

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 6 years ago

I do remember FRT and the stamps on wood. Uh...guess they forgot the stamps on "her" client's property.

Posted by Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 6 years ago
Maybe I'm not old enough to remember? Regardless, good luck! Love and light, Laura
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 6 years ago

Good morning, Jay. In this area they require 1 inch drywall between units. Wood is wood and it will burn.


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

Interesting Jay allthough I have not read all the comments I was under the belief we are to serve our clients regardless of the issues.  If the roof is an issue the agent is not doing their duty and thereefore violating the duty they swore to uphold.  Damn I would turn them in.

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

It seems to me too Susan.  In my experience, seeing this much damage, most roofers would have jumped at the chance to correct it with a new roof!

Her coming at me was a day later after I had acquired more opinions and information Barbara.  And I think Susan is on to something.

That's funny Gary.  One of the home inspectors I contacted asked what FRT is too!

You are very kind Tom.

For sure Mike.  And if I go an extra mile or two, even if it flies in the face of what I thought was a stupid comment (forgeting the stamp, really?).

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

This is my client's agent Juan.  The selling agent!  I did not hear from the listing agent, who was probably pleased to hear there is nothing to see here!

She already had my opinion, and questions, on the report Cindy.  I was really shocked to see that she did not like my buttressing my own thinking.  I have nothing to gain by saying the roof is not to code.  It makes me no extra money to do more work on the matter.

THAT is the bottom line Raymond!  I told her I am looking out for her too!

Suzanne - she has known me for many years!  She knows what I do.

Thank you Tammy.  That is nice to hear!

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

It's fine if the roofer has an opinion Than.  But to say things that are odd, and not address the code is something again.  I suggested they look into the permit thing too.  I bet she will not.

I would think they are OUR clients too Robert.

Thanks Jill.  What I did is not over the top, from my angle.

Good to sock it away Bill!

I haven't seen it in so long that I wanted to post about it Joan.

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

You probably have a few already in your bag that you like to throw around too, right Tom?

The stamps are not unusual Margaret.  Not seeing them is, along with these problems!

Laura - life begins when we are born!  But you get the history lesson, right?

I don't know what the thickness is here Michael.  I think they abut two 5/8s sheets, but don't quote me.

James - she has her "professional" opinion!  What's wrong with ignoring the diligent home inspector's additional information?  That would be her position, so turning her in might not get anywhere.

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

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