The client in this inspection only wanted me to look at a fiber cement siding job on a historic home in Northern Virginia.
The house is listed in a national registry of antebellum historic homes, and near a Civil War battlefield. This homeowner is in the process of trying to bring it back. And it's a beauty - an old "I" house with an original, oak staircase, newel post and railing that is gorgeous beyond anything you would normally see done today.
An I house is basically a design where you walk in the front door to a room on the left and right, a long hall down the center, and two side-by-side rooms in the rear. The design is in the shape of an I. The upstairs is like the downstairs. Sometimes upstairs the I house has another front door, above the first-floor door, that opens to air! The upstairs door is there merely for design.
This homeowner had selected James Hardie fiber cement siding and trim because it looks like antebellum clapboard and meets the restoration criteria for these homes. Fiber cement is a composite product, made from sand, cement and cellulose and is very long lasting. It does not warp or crack, and is manufactured for different climates and conditions.
The first question I asked him over the phone was whether he had checked to see if the contractor (and installers) were James Hardie certified. He had not. He did not know about that.
James Hardie is serious about their products, AND those who install them. They train and certify those who do, and demand compliance to on
"every James Hardie project installed by a Preferred Remodeler using GuildQuality."
They demand adherence to their stated "Best Practices," shown on their website (click here) which location contains well over 100 pages of how to install their various products in every application imaginable. If an installer has a question he can merely click on one of the pages and view the diagram.
Looking first at an area beside a rounded portico over the front door I noticed an area that was stained with whatever and a seam not installed according to anything James Hardie likes to see. I counted 15 brads haphazardly shot around that seam, but there may have been more too close to count.
Behind every James Hardie product should go a house wrap. They recommend, but I am not sure demand, their product, called Hardiwrap. They want it everywhere.
Dangerously leaving this live electrical box to the weather (it was raining/snowing the day of the inspection - weather happens) I can clearly see that there is no house wrap behind the siding here.
Is house wrap everywhere? Is it anywhere?
And I don't know how that box will be re-installed. Maybe glue? Duct tape? Am I kidding?
My recommendation: when you do it, do it right! And get informed and trained before you do it! And before hiring a contractor to do whatever it is you want done, do a little research to make sure you are treated with the best. And calling a home inspector to help is always a Best Practice.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560