Last week, I was at a home inspection for a client on a house that was 4 years old. The seller of the house had the home built new, by a custom builder. What tons of folks seem to not understand, or just don’t know, is that a home builder is only as good as his sub-contractors. A builder, typically, is no more than a middle man who schedules the different tradespeople like carpenters, plumbers, and electricians to show up when they need to, do their job, and move on to the next house. If a builder, possibly your builder, doesn’t choose the best people to do their jobs, but instead chooses the cheapest person they can find (so they pad their own bottom line) you pay for it. There is nothing more true than: pay me now, or pay me later.
Back to last week. My inspection of this home was actually going quite well. Until I went to the backyard. The two-story vinyl siding house had a good sized deck off the second story, like many, many other homes I’ve inspected. And like all the others, the deck was a disaster. I say all, because I’ve inspected 87 homes with second story decks this year and not a single one was 100% built correctly. Not one. Nope, not a single solitary one. Now, I don’t have the time to post, nor do you care to read about each one. But this deck, on this day, stands out. Simply because of its’ age. 4 yrs old.
The ledger board (the main board that is bolted to the house) was not properly flashed. Not being flashed properly will cause water to get in behind the siding and cause severe moisture damage to the deck, wall, sheathing, structure, etc… it wreaks havoc. The worst part about this situation is this: the home is 4yrs old, one owner, and that owner is flat out screwed. Typically, you get a one year warranty with a new home, and once that time has elapsed, it’s your baby. The deck in question was not done correctly from day one. No two ways about it. But when it’s brought to your attention 3 years too late, there is not much that can be done about it except fix it. On your dime. If you want to sell that house, that is.
It’s pretty simply really. Since the problem (at least one of them) was the very first thing the deck builders did wrong, you start over. Yup, thats right, you tear it down. Remove the siding and cross your fingers and toes that the crap work on the deck was caught early enough that there is not massive moisture damage to the house. Luckily, there wasn’t on this house. The seller got out cheap, all things considered… it only cost him $8,500 to tear down the old deck, repair the flashing/siding job, and rebuild the exact same size deck back on the house.
This was $8,500 he didn’t have to spend. If he would have had a home inspection done before closing on the home when it was new, depending on his inspector, there’s a good chance it would have been caught and the builder would have made his sub-contractors fix it. The important thing is, the money to repair the deck doesn’t have to come out of his pocket. Some folks will tell you that having an inspection done on a newly constructed home is a waste of money. Tell that to the man who just cut a check for more than 2000% of the cost of the home inspection. Yes, that number is correct. 2000%. There is a big difference between a code inspector and a home inspector. Learn the facts. A building code is nothing more than the minimum requirements to remain legal. It’s mind boggling really. Nobody accepts the minimum of anything, but the minimum of construction standards is considered fine by some people. Don’t settle for less.