The Underlying Truth

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

TrickeryWhat we see in our world may be at times an illusion, a trick. Magicians make a living out of tricking our eyes, really our brains into believing something that has not actually happened. In life we may have the misfortune of being duped by a real life “magician”, a conman or just someone dishonest.

James Hardie siding incorrectly installed along a roof

As a home inspector, an investigator of sorts, I see the results of trickery. In some cases it is coupled with ignorance. Not knowing however doesn’t excuse the deed.

I was contacted concerning an issue with a newer set of buildings where the siding was not holding paint and as a result deteriorating. The siding material was fiber cement type manufactured by James Hardie Corp. It is a good product that holds paint well. The issue was odd to say the least and also a bit intriguing. Long story short the buildings management company had contacted the manufacturer who basically said the issue is water/moisture related. I was contacted to conduct an infrared scan of one of the three building in hopes of locating the source of the problem.Deteriorated James Hardie siding

Not unlike most building products, James Hardie siding has a set of best practices for installation. One of these is clearances at surfaces where water can affect the product, for instance where the roof and siding meet. Failing to adhere to these parameters will almost assuredly result in problems with the product such as deterioration.

One area on these buildings with paint and deterioration issues is where the siding meets the roof. The siding is right against the shingles. The results have been as would be expected, ugly. More revealing is what the infrared camera sees.

Infrared IR thermal image of moisture behind James Hardie siding on a Connecticut ct buildingWhile the deterioration and peeling paint on the surface is about one foot from the edge, the IR camera shows the moisture extends much further and in other areas that have yet to manifest. The issue is throughout the entire building. The very simple reason is the product was never installed correctly.

When the buildings were completed, I was told the exterior looked fine, “beautiful”. Was it an illusion, a form of trickery perpetuated by a conman? Perhaps it was because of ignorance or worse negligence.

The reasons are never to be known, but the truth is someone has been tricked.


James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services. Learn more about our home energy audits, the Home Energy Tune uP®.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.


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Bill & Cyndi Daves
Hiawassee, Young Harris, Blairsville, Hayesville, Murphy and Beyond! - Hiawassee, GA
TeamDAVES - Your REALTORS In the GA/NC Mountains!

James - The mind is a fickle thing isn't it.  It can be our greatest asset and our greatest enemy.  Given that the mind cannot distinquish between something that really happened and something that was vividly imagined, our propensity to be open to trickery is constant!

Love that IR camera by the way!


Jan 24, 2012 12:29 AM #1
Bruce Hicks
Best Homes Hawaii - Honolulu, HI
Your Lifetime Friend/Helper!

James, our example a development here constructed in 1980.  I agree with you.  What is interesting is that it was approved by government inspectors and FHA back at that time.  The deterioration did not show up until 20 years later.  In this 200 unit townhouse development, you can see where SOME buildings were done right.  Others, the contractor took shortcuts.  Too late to go after the contractor who also went bankrupt.

Jan 24, 2012 12:30 AM #2
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The thermal camera to the rescue ... again!  When people can actually see what is going on, with their LOOOONG wave eyes, it is obvious.  Prior to that, everything is magically done well!

Jan 24, 2012 12:41 AM #3
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

I never would have known that you shouldn't place roofing right up against siding.   Should you instead place flashing under both, and leave a space?   I never thought about it. 

Do you serve the town of New Fairfield, oh grand inspector of the world?  

Jan 24, 2012 12:43 AM #4
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

James, I really like reading all the detail you put into your posts.  Could it be as simple as someone not being trained in the correct installation?  Like us with new computer equipment...we throw away the instructions?  Someone definitely got tricked in your scenario and who knows what the other damage this sloppy workmanship might have caused.

Jan 24, 2012 12:51 AM #5
Craig Rutman
Helping people in transition - Cary, NC
Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor

Your infrared scans certainly reveal a whole lot more than the naked eye can see. Such a great asset to have in your toolbox James.

Jan 24, 2012 01:49 AM #6
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Sometimes it take a good illusion to support a good delusion :)

Jan 24, 2012 02:20 AM #7
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC


 You would think that they would have this down by now. I see this all the time on no clearance to the roof line.

Hey ain't Hardie impervious to all weather, moisture, insects, acts of god etc... ; )

Jan 24, 2012 02:54 AM #8
Peg Barcelo
Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369 - Summerland, BC
The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC

JQ, once again one must trust the professional (installer) to know the proper techniques for new products. I hope the owners have recourse to get this repaired, there are too many people, graduating at the bottom of the class, making money off of trusting home owners and getting away with it.

Jan 24, 2012 03:01 AM #9
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Outstanding job in pointing out these issues. If the roof is not vented properly many of these issues show up. Thank you for sharing the post.

Jan 24, 2012 05:41 AM #10
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Of course, it looked great when it was newly installed.  It takes a little time for even water to destroy something.

Jan 24, 2012 06:26 AM #11
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Cyndi, How true. There wouldn't be any magicians if we didn't enjoy being tricked.

Bruce the same is true here, too much time has pased. 

Jay, Yes the IR camera can be revealing.

Dagny, A space is required with flashing. 

Mona, You hit on the more important issue in my mind. What can't be seen. 

Craig, And it's fun to use :)

Charlie, Yep.

Don, From my understanding you guys out there use this stuff a lot more than us here on the right side. I would think people would know how to read instructions or at least consult them.

Peg, I think you are right about that. On the flip side people need to do their own research. Hiring home inspectors to check contractors work in a tool many over look.

Joe, That was one of my first thoughts, but not the case here.

Jack, Just enough so the contractors skates away unresponsively. 

Jan 26, 2012 03:45 AM #12
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

The installation instructions for fiber cement siding are all nearly identical, but I continually find the same defects over and over - especially the clearances you're referring to.  It's only a two-page installation guide. What's so tough for the installers to understand?

Jan 29, 2012 10:51 AM #13
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Reuben, Actually with this brand thos instructions have gotten pretty legthy and detailed. You are right, all fiber cement board is basically the same with regard to installation, but it's still done wrong many times. 

Jan 30, 2012 12:10 AM #14
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James Quarello

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