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High-End, Upper-Level Condos Have To Be Checked For Roof Leaks!

Believe it or not, high-end, upper-level condos have to be checked for roof leaks!

You would think that condo fees go toward not only regular maintenance, but immediate needs!

But you have to look!

The evidence might be slight.

In this condo it was in the ceiling (the owner had tried to paint out the stains) as a small line and near the wall.

It was in the cavity both near the ceiling and near the HVAC register.

And the stains had "ghosts."

What are ghosts?

That is the slang term, at least used by home inspectors, for different sized stains within other stains.

Those ghosts indicate that more than one leak has occurred.

It is evident here that the water had done something interesting.

It found its way downward INSIDE the window framing.

It manifested below by swelling the wooden window sill.

There is staining in the corner under that window sill.

And also floor damage.

The floor damage is shown by stressed polyurethane, stained wood, and swollen seams, separating and moving.

It was apparent to me that this roof leak had been there a while!

When asked, the homeowner reported that indeed it had been happening for some time and that requests (plural) had been made to the condo maintenance department for repairs.

So, this is the kind of information a buyer needs to know!

My recommendation:  check out a condo purchase carefully, inside and out.  Look to see how well the building and area has been maintained.  Check the condo info to see what expenditures will be coming up (a new parking lot, new windows, new roof) because those will be folded into your HOA fees and could very well be the reason the unit is for sale!  But most of all, get a home inspection to see how well the unit you wish to purchase has been taken care of!

 

 

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 • May 19 2014 02:08AM

Comments

Yes, we have some similiar issues in our building.  They will be fixing them this year.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 4 years ago

This year?  Did you know that thermal imaging can detect roof problems UNDER the roofing material, Debbie?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Condos do sell here from time to time but not often.  I have sold only one in my career

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

They are a very popular sales market here James, in all price levels.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I have never heard the the term "ghosts" used to describe water stains. Ghosting, which describes staining related to air infiltration and the plating of soot / dirt on walls. 

This might be the window and the roof from the looks of the stains.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

I've seen every single example you describe and show.  Amazing the destruction that water can bring.

One thing for sure.  It will NOT cure itself and time is not your friend.

The one you inspected is a case where the condo association needs to get busy and do their job.  Every since owner there is losing value.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Hence the word "slang," Jim!  My roofer had never heard the words "kick-out flashing" until I mentioned it to him, and he has been around over 25 years!  He calls it "diverter flashing."  I've always heard those stains to be ghosts. 

Since the stains go from high to low I suspected the roof, but it could very well be the window too.

Until I got to college, all of 50 miles from my house, I had not heard the word "hoagie."  I only knew sub...

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

All true Lenn.  And she said she had asked them to look into it and repair it many times.  Not a good sign.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

A couple of teh condos in my area have had strange leaks.  However the association spent considerable money on engineers to figure out what caused them and then fixed them.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 4 years ago

There is a flat roof above here Cindy.  Sometimes easy to figure out, sometimes not.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Water can cause some serious damage.  It's amazing how much it can travel from one place to another.  Good stuff Jay!

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 4 years ago

Like everything else, it flows down A&J!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, the water is probably working its way down to the next lower level, if there is one. I wonder if the association is responsible for repairing the damage inside the condo.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 4 years ago

Water leaks are kind of like termites. Both will just keep eating away at your home until someone takse the corrective measures to stop them.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 4 years ago

Oh I would be peeved if that was my association. I imagine his fees aren't cheap either. 

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 4 years ago

Jay, I hate water leaks. They can travel to areas away from the leak and leave a hapless homeowner chasing imaginary leaks while the real one continues to cause destruction. Nasty business. 

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 4 years ago

Know too what maintenance is yours and what belongs to the association...some people assume those foggy windows are replaced by the association...not soooo much most of the time.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 4 years ago

Hard to know Mike.  The floors are concrete, as is so typical in high-rise buildings.

Jeff - word.

This is a very high-end building Suzanne - I bet them there fees be really high.

Mike - leak sources are sometimes difficult to locate.  In this case it is at an interior corner, but from the roof, to which I had no access, it could be that this was a low point many feet from the source.

S&D - of course you have to know what your responsibility is, but any roof issue is certainly the condo's deal.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I enjoy your posts. I learn a lot from them. While rain damage from a roof would be rare in our area (it hardly ever rains here), it is good to know what to observe in a home when you are showing property.

Posted by Myra Gouger, RRG, ABR, SRES, CPDE, CPRES, Realty ONE, LV. You are my most important client. (Urban Nest Realty) over 4 years ago

I have heard you all are in a real drought situation Myra.  Your water bills must be high!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I've never heard the tern 'ghost' used that wya but it is apt. I use it to refer to paint or other indicators that something formerly there is now gone. Like exterior railings and decking, for example. Painting of the wood usually leaves the edges defined on brick or other adjacent wall surfaces so you know they were once there by the paint trace left behind.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 4 years ago

Jay - excellent catch on these leaks.  If the Association hasn't budgeted for a new roof and it needs one, that could mean a special assessment to raise the extra capital.  Your find could have potentially saved the buyer money there as well!

Posted by ReadySetLoan Condo Approval Team, The FHA/VA Condo Project Approval Specialists (ReadySetLoan Condo Team LLC) over 4 years ago

Great advice Jay -- water is not our friend when it begins to come inside our home uninvited!  :-)

Posted by Alicia Utz, REALTOR & Military Relocation Professional in NOVA (EXIT Realty Associates) over 4 years ago

Old stains and roofs that were repairs are the ghosts that come back to make the buyer of a home fearful of leaks. Even though old stains.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 4 years ago
We don't have high level condos , the ones I have dealt with were more like town homes and I ordered a full inspection and if any think look more specious to do a roof inspection, I would never represent a client without inspections. Once inspected the buyer is relying on the inspection so it doesn't hurt to look around yourself when the inspectors are there. Roof leaks are well hidden, I had a house where the seller painted the inside walls over a dried stain, but looking at the eves it was obvious. We were lucky on that one and walked away.
Posted by Rod Pierson, Northern California (Results Real Estate Inc) over 4 years ago

Hi Jay,

Passing the inspection is an important part of buying a property and condos are no exception. Great job catching roof leaks and water damage on this one. Makes me wonder why a long term leak does not get fixed before major damage is incurred.

Posted by Les & Sarah Oswald, Broker, Realtor and Investor (Realty One Group) over 4 years ago

It is very apt Robert.  And indicative when so many different images show. 

Eric - who knows if this is the only problem!  One wonders how many others have similar leaks and have asked for repairs.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Alicia - water is THE killer of houses, inside and out.

Another good use of the word ghost, Andrew.

I try to look at the outside of condos Rod, to see how things are maintained.  In this case I had no access to the flat roof.

S&L - I don't really pass or fail anything.  But the inspection conclusions are something the buyer uses to make an ultimate decision.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, it seems that a big part of any condo inspection report is the list of stuff to bring to the attention of the Condo Association for repairs.  I just had a condo president call me as to a gas leak at the meters I reported.  All good info for all involved.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

If I can get into the gas closet I like to go Charlie.  The same with the sprinkler room!

On the upper level certainly the roof becomes a bigger issue.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, I agree with you about checking condos for roof leaks especially on the top level of a building.  Many of the condo associations have the room as a maintenance item that the association takes care of including repairs inside the top level unit.

Posted by Sam Miller, Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist (RE/MAX Stars Realty) over 4 years ago

Sam - of course we check!  And the roof would necessarily be common area, and therefore a part of the condo's responsibility.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

An inspection was conducted a few weeks back on a condo listing one of my clients is buying. The HOA is responsible for the roof. We found a large hole where a ridge vent had broken. I guess the owners never thought to have the HOA check the roof when they got staining on the ceiling.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 4 years ago

Wow, Tammie, a stain might just be an indicator! 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay this was a great article. water is hard to find, especially in California when it doesn't rain a lot, it can go undetected. HOA's aren't the easiest people to deal with either. I can't believe that they had multiple requests to get it fixed and they never did. 

Posted by Kim & Kristine Halverson, Realtors (www.LiveWorkSiliconBeach.com, Santa Monica Real Estate :) ) over 4 years ago

In Florida we have a question and answer sheet that covers all the possible issues with a condo including planned assessments.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 4 years ago

Jay-Very interesting, one thing to always be sure to do even though the roof is covered by an association.

Posted by Pete Xavier, Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide (Investments to Luxury) over 4 years ago

Jay- I always learn so much from your posts.  Stains can be a symptom of many things small and big.  It takes an inspector like yourself to investigate.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 4 years ago

K&K - if the condo doesn't want to help, get on the board!  Make it happen!

The same here Bill.  I always suggest, as to the realtors, that buyers check on future needs assessments.

Pete - everyone owns the roof!  So everyone has an equal interest in its maintenance.

Joan - and hopefully the investigation reveals stuff!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

How about a grinder. That's CT speak for a sub. Btw we build them up here.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, Many times I find more issues with the Association side of things than the home/condo owner side.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Wow, never heard of a grinder!  I am way out of touch Jim.  My usual is a steak and cheese sub, with extra grilled onions.

Don - for sure!  They make them there rules, but enforce them only insofar as homeowners are concerned!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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