Do You have an at-risk Home?

OK, this is a series on people who have homes with built in issues. Do you think that is you? I hope not.  But we will proceed, and see if we can shed some light here. A brief caveat. All the possible ways that poor design and work execution can create a serious water leaking issue in your home are not outlined here. But the experts that contribute to this page can help you zero in on real problems and real solutions.

So often, people with problems homes get started down a path of easy but ineffective solutions, and the tracks of these solutions can obscure the real problem, or allow erroneous assumptions to be made about is sound and what is defective. It is essential- if you have a serious issue- anyting like what is described here, that you be really conscious of whom you hire and trust. The wrong contractor hired for the wrong  reason, say price or charm- will only lead farther from a solution.

Moving on…

We are going to talk about specific roofing issues here first. Not your average problems as discussed in the general discussion- make sure you see that too. This is the advanced material that builds on the standard good information… , but the really narly and complex issues. We  will describe some issues here and share some pictures.

Poor Roof Design Pretty Much Insures Future Roof Problems

This home design problem provides a vivid example of an “at risk” home. It is a good bet that there is already water in these walls. A large area of roofing dumps water into a gutter backed up to a side wall transition- gutters are not waterproof! and this water must transport itself along a low slope section of roofing and then water must traverse two drip edge flashings terminating against walls and one drip edge has really close working space. I am screaming!

Les make sure we have our bearing here and some perspective.

What causes complex roofing problems?

Really narly problems need some key ingredeints.

1. The roofing problems are built in by design.  and allowed to become issues when roofers do not take the time to do the detail work to make risky designs work. Frank Lloyd Rite was a roofer’s nightmare- few things in a straight line, custom design specs  at every turn, he would have been an interesting guy to work for. Today roof designs are dictated by home designs and too many home designs are a mishmash of cut up styles without  real style or grace.Not enough architects involved with a great many homely roofs on houses that have popped up in the Metroplex.

Many homes in North Texas have design issues that put real stress on roofers. Many of these issues, provide a very small and cumbersome workspace within which to work. This is compounded by Texas hot sun. Poor clearances make proper fastening really hard.

This coupled with the fact that most production companies hire productions roofers on spec homes- for speed and low cost. The issues of complex cut up design  then cross coupled with an emphasis  on speed can leave the homeowner with problems later. Many of these designs belie ordinary slope roofing technology.

The image above is a great example of a home with water defying properties. You don’t want these on your home. You don’t want these on a home you buy unless you know a great roofer and you make sure the problem is absolutely Aced with a solution before you get on board.

The standard  solution to low slope issues in sloped roofing- is an extra layer of underlayment which might be a solution on a flat plane, or a layer of self stick membrane which waterproofs nail penetrations, but the problem is elevation transitions.

Low slope issues on sloped roofing are always associated with a protrusion flashing or a wall sticking out in the flow of water- and  these require cuts in materials at corners, to lay down properly and cuts in corners required proper bonding agents as per  a low slope specification.

These sections need to be waterproof.  Any aspect of a slope roof spec mixed up in a waterproofing roofing spec sets the timer for problems. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and the problem will be a water entry and what gets soaked or what grows will be a function of where that leaking water goes..

If you have bought your at risk home, I hope you are able to get the right kindo fo help. Our group of experts are ready to talk to you.

If you happen across this page before you purchase an existing home, I suggest you read on and read up to make sure you avoid buying an at risk home.

It might surprise you, but home inspectors do not suggest you do not buy a particular home. They operate under a very specific code of conduct. They are regulated, you know, by the Texas Real Estate Commission TREC. The bend over backwards to make sales and create the transaction.

Now home  inspectors will not tell you to not buy such a home. It is outside the scope of their designated activity LINK –

But, take my word as a busy body. There are homes you do not want- and it is up to you to ask the questions and make up your own mind, and understand what the actual role of your home inspector. Home inspectors are great. They do great work. Just make sure you understand the scope of their  work.

There are homes you want to avoid- unless you talk to the right people and find the right solutions and know you might get a great deal. You just might get a great deal, because the existing owner might be trying to unload an undiscovered issue  that will not be talked about in polite company.

We also have to talk about really serious problems with walls leaking.

Walls are protected by what is called a drainage plane. The bricks yousee, the stucco you see, is not the water sheeding layer, but rather the drainage plane behind it is.

Except when the drainage plane is not built very well. and one thing about a drainage plane, you are stuck with what you have unless you are ready for a really serious remodel- like all the bricks off and the windows out.

Likely not going to happen. So careful treatment of the exterior siding becomes a part of the plan for keeping water out of the walls. And this can be really problematica. we comver this issue extensively when we talk about walls and leks here- but right now- when we are on the subject of at risk homes- homes with cracks, homes with talk exosed windows to windward when it storms, are examples of homes at risk of water penetrating walls and getting insulation wet and creating problems. This is a complex problem, and so I leave you with the caveat of knowing what might be at risk in the walls of your home, or a home you are thinking about buying.

We talk about the foundational issues of water getting into walls here and then progress into several methods of self diagnosing leaking issues proceeding right up to getting the professional inspection that watches out for your interests. You can have a home inspecter for no other reason that making sure you don’t have water coming in.

Just make sure you get the right professional with the right tool. I will give you that line again for dealing with potential water threats to your walls. That page is right here.

But just like our discussion of water getting into walls- when the drainage plane  is in place and the siding is on- the brick cladding, the stucco, the siding… repairs are going to take place at the siding level of the home,and not at the drainage plane, and this is a  fundamental compromise with fundamental issues. More on the drainage plane and keeping water out of walls here. 

And, last but certainly not least, your home can have a complex relationship with proper drainage that make it high risk house.

Homes get plopped  down haphazardly.  It take extra thought and effort and money to properly site a home on a correct grade when it is built.This breaks the nearly unbreakable rule, cheap to build, all the design money into pretty stuff.  I hope that makes sense, we address building and remodeling quandaries here.  [review this post]

Plus, there is the added issue of homes being added to the neighborhood, new plants new gardens, new driveways, additions in the back  yard- adding a deck… just about anything laid out in the yard, can create a drainage problem and a drainage problem can allow water into your stud walls, and create leaks and mold and health issues.

Now you might ask why is this reminder put into a page about at risk homes? Well, people need to be introduced to these issues, because it just might get them out of the house to look around LINK and look around again after a storm LINK and hea of an expensive problem.

Here is a lot more information on drainage issues, check it out.

If you have any questions or comments please leave a note below thanks.



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