Category Archives: Exterior

AU NATUREL? SOMETIMES, NATURE NEEDS A LITTLE TAMING (OR TRIMMING)

Here in the Pacific Northwest, plants have a funny habit. 

The grow. A lot.

Sun, rain, and moderate temperatures bring things out of the ground at a rapid rate. While that’s great for gardeners, it’s not always a good thing when it comes to your house—specifically when things are overgrowing its exterior. 

Recently, I inspected a house in Skagit County that looked like a jungle had overtaken it. Plastic corrugated roof coverings—covered with plant life—were actively leaking. In my report, I recommended trimming back and maintaining this vegetative growth to prevent elevated moisture conditions and water/insect damage.

Vegetative growth is wonderful, but sometimes it needs a haircut.

If you have questions or comments about maintaining your home’s exterior or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

REPTILE ROOF? FLAT ROOF COVERINGS CAN SHOW SIGNS OF ‘ALLIGATORING’

If your membrane roofing system is aging, your roof coverings may experience severe cracking—which may resemble the skin of a reptile. 

This condition, known in the home inspection industry as “alligatoring,” is a common occurrence. It happens because of sun damage, ice, and temperature variations—and cracks can get worse if left untreated.

I recently came across built-up flat roof coverings that were alligatoring at a house in Bow, and I recommended the homeowner budget for re-seal coating the roofing. This is a three-step process that involves ridding the surfaces of dust and particles, applying a primer and then finally a coating. 

Because this issue is common with membrane roofing systems, homeowners with these systems should inspect their roofs at least twice per year. Apply new coatings as needed, and make sure to repair any blisters that could cause leakage.

If you have questions or comments about roofing repairs or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

3 QUESTIONS: ROOFING SYSTEMS WITH CASCADE ROOFING COMPANY INC.

Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.

This month, we talk about roofing systems with Richard Steiner, president at Cascade Roofing Company Inc. in Burlington.

Q1: Do you have any advice, or pet peeves, to share with our audience about roofs? 

Please do research on your contractor, such as: 

• Are they licensed, bonded, and insured?

• How many years have they been in business?

• Are they recommended by the Better Business Bureau?

Q2: Do you perform roof repairs on an older roof installed by another contractor or is this too high of liability?

We do all types of repairs, old and new.  If another company may have installed the roof, check with them first to see if you still have a warranty.  If a warranty is still in place and we were to do the repair it could void your current warranty.

Q3: What’s your preferred method of roof ventilation and why? Soffit / gable vents, soffit / roof vents or soffit / ridge vents?

For roof ventilation, continuous ridge vent or can vents are our preferred method. We also use soffit vents, which are considered a positive air flow system whereas gable vents are deemed inadequate.

Bonus Q: What advice can you give homeowners about how to best maintain their roof system?

Roof maintenance is best done by a professional.  But if it’s not in the budget, we recommend moss treatment and keeping gutters and drains free from any debris.  Note:  Have a contractor install some tie off anchors before doing your own maintenance so that you can be safe on the roof.

About Cascade Roofing Company Inc.

Cascade Roofing Company Inc. provides commercial and residential roofing services throughout the Skagit Valley and Whidbey Island regions. With more than 30 years of experience, the company guarantees quality workmanship at affordable rates. The organization is also a proud member of The Skagit/Island Counties Builders Association (SICBA) and is accredited with the Better Business Bureau.

For more information, visit www.cascaderoofingcompanyinc.com .
 
A big “thanks” to Richard for his responses!

If you have questions or comments about home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

TREAD LIGHTLY IN YOUR ATTIC TO HELP LESSEN UTILITY BILLS

If you are looking to save some money on utilities, a wise place to start is with insulation. A properly insulated home can save you coin and keep you warmer during the winter and cooler during the summer. 

All of my inspections included poking around in crawl spaces and attics to check insulation levels. During a recent inspection of a home in Freeland, I came across a house that had adequate insulation levels in the attic, but portions of it were compressed (likely from someone walking on it). 

I recommended my clients insulate these areas for improved thermal efficiency because compressed insulation can reduce the “R” value of insulation (lessening its effectiveness). 

If you have questions or comments about insulation, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

WATCH YOUR STEP: HANDYMAN RAMP NEEDS REPAIR

Frequently, handyman construction practices are undertaken to make life easier for home residents. A lot of the time, these “fixes” work just fine. Occasionally, however, there needs to be corrective action taken because of safety concerns.

I encountered just such a scenario during a recent home inspection on Fidalgo Island. I noticed handyman construction practices at a ramp from the garage interior to the home, which I considered a potential safety issue because the boards deflected a lot when I walked on them. When I note these types of things, I always recommend further evaluation and repair by a qualified contractor in my reports.

If you have questions or comments about handyman construction practices, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

CUT IT OUT: SUPPORT COLUMNS NOT PROPERLY INSTALLED

At times, handyman repairs in crawl spaces can be quite, well, interesting. This especially rings true for older homes, which frequently showcase repairs made decades earlier using a variety of methods and materials.

Even relatively newer homes can surprise as well. Recently, during an inspection in Friday Harbor, I came across unconventionally shimmed support columns in a 1995-built home. The columns were likely incorrectly cut when installed, so shimming had to compensate for the issue. There was also some minor settling that may have contributed to the situation as well.

I recommended the potential buyer bring in a qualified contractor to further evaluate and make necessary repairs. Furthermore, because we live in a seismically active area, I encouraged them to consider installing metal support hardware for improved security. 

If you have questions or comments about structural issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

NOT SO PRETTY IN PINK

It’s always good to see homes that are well-insulated in crawl space and basement areas.

However, the types of insulation that homeowners use require different levels of care and awareness. One common insulation material is pink foam board insulation—which is combustible (as this highly unscientific video sort of documents, starting at 9:56).

I recently encountered exposed pink foam insulation while inspecting a crawl space in Mount Vernon. In my report, I recommended that it be covered with non-combustible material for safety reasons.

If you have questions or comments about insulation issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

SNEAKY SECRET CRAWL SPACE ACCESS HATCH

I always enjoy coming across homes with quirks or unexpected features. Definitely one of the perks of my job.

Case in point: during a recent visit to a home in Coupeville, I found a crawl space access hatch that was placed strategically behind a bookshelf. Not only was this a stylish, efficient, and space-saving design, it also made the chore of going into a crawl space a little more entertaining.

If you have questions or comments about structural issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

DANGEROUS DECKING AND ADVENTURES WITH ABUTMENTS

Sometimes, my job can be scary. Traversing steep, slippery roofs; entering crawl spaces with who-knows-what living inside…you get the picture.

During a recent home inspection in Anacortes, I came across a scary looking deck that was basically ready to fall over. The condition of the deck was so bad, I didn’t even attempt to go on it. You name the structural issue, this deck seemed to have it, including substantially deteriorated posts, beams, and deck joists.

Take care of your deck, and it will take care of you.

Yikes. Be careful out there.

If you have questions or comments about decking, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

VIDEO: MAINTENANCE PRACTICES THAT CAN SAVE YOUR ROOF

Your roof. 

How’s it going up there? Have you taken a trip to the top of your house recently to say “hello?” Have you even looked at it lately? 

If you haven’t checked in with your home’s roof coverings, you may want to sometime soon because here in the Pacific Northwest, weather can get wet and wild—and moisture can cause havoc with roofing systems if the systems are not adequately maintained. 

Today, I’m going to share some tips on how to care for asphalt composition roof systems. 

Below are some key points I’ll elaborate on in the video below. I hope you enjoy it!

• Treat your roof 2x annually

• Use zinc granules and powders

• Spray treatment can work

• Don’t pressure wash!

If you have questions or comments about roofing, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).