Flip, Flap, Flop

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

When speaking with prospective clients, if there is one word that makes me groan, not necessarily out loud, it's the word flip. As in the house is a flip. This four letter word can be cleverly disguised in other forms, such as rehabbed or remodeled, but it ain't fooling me. What a flip means to me is the house was in a state of serious disrepair, was purchased for well under market value, renovated and made to look pretty in all the right places, and finally put back on the market with a substantially larger asking price.

Unique method of flashing a chimneyWhat it also means is there is likely to be poor and even dangerous workmanship. Some of which may be hidden behind the pretty new walls or in other inaccessible places.

Such was the story recently, this first time buyer had been swayed into offering over asking by the large and modern kitchen in a uniquely styled house. Viewing the house when arriving and after inspecting it, I will say it was one of the more uniquely designed homes I have seen. As for the flippers workmanship....

I usually begin the inspection with the roof. When I climbed on to the roof on this house I saw that it was new, which the buyer had stated previously. I also saw a large chimney in the dead center. The newer work to the crown caught my attention first. I started to walk over to have a look and then noticed the new chimney flashing.

Chimney flashing diagram

I began to shake my head in disbelief and laugh.

I have viewed hundreds and hundreds of chimneys and their metal flashings over the years, but this method was a first for me.

To understand the utter idiocy of this flashing job, it may help to know how a chimney should be flashed. Basically a chimney is flashed using two types of flashing, the step and base flashings, which are weaved into the roofing shingles and the all important counter flashing. The counter flashing is installed over the opening of the base and counter flashings. Without counter flashing, the chimney opening will leak as sure as its going to rain.

The roofing "professional" installed the step flashing all around the chimney. The front surfaces should have a continuous piece of metal, not several small ones. The topper, or lack there of, was the complete absence of counter flashing. I believe the roofer thought the roofing under layment , the black material run up the sides of the chimney, would be an adequate substitute for the counter flashing.

It most definitely is not.

This type workmanship was found, as I would have thought, throughout the house. Needless to say the buyer walked away from the deal.

The house was, it turned out, a flop.

Posted by

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

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Yes, I would guess that flips tend to have the most issues.  They are often homes that have not been cared for and have issues, and someone is buying with the purpose to turn a profit.  They often minimize costs/investment and focus more on the cosmetics rather than the structure.

Sep 17, 2012 10:17 PM #1
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi James,

I hate top hear the home is or was a "flipper", it makes me a little jittery when I inspect.

There needs to be a closer look for those things that the flipper wanted to save a few bucks on.

Good find and never give up doing a proper inspection. Good post.

Have a good day in Connecticut.

Best, Clint McKie

Sep 17, 2012 10:43 PM #2
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, Chimney flashing must be another rocket science project after decks. I almost never seen them done as in your graphic. I know it is a hard concept ; )

Sep 18, 2012 12:28 AM #3
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

James -- this is one of those things that done right, can take a bit more time, something roofers don't seem to want to use these days.

Sep 18, 2012 02:51 AM #4
Richard Arnold
Keller Williams Realty East Valley - Tempe, AZ
Realtor - Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix

Why do you have to rain down my chimney?  

I just had a buyer refuse to make an offer due to worries about the roof - before any inspection had taken place?  

They seem to think any issue at all requires a complete roof replacement!

What can I tell buyers about inspectors/roof inspectors to calm their nerves? 

Sep 18, 2012 03:09 AM #5
Shane Barker
Amerifirst Financial, INC. - Salt Lake City, UT

Wow, this is great info to keep in mind and to be on the look out for with remodeled homes.

Sep 18, 2012 04:08 AM #6
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Why do all the dirty four-letter words have to start with "F" ??  LOL  Great post on the flipped (off) roof. 

Sep 18, 2012 05:02 AM #7
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The old and seldom seen camel-humped chimney top!  And that flashing sure is special.  That must be how they do it in the "old country," where ever that might be!  What a great laugh!

Sep 18, 2012 06:47 AM #8
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


I look at flipped house with trepidation.  There is very little care and good craftsmanship displayed in most of the flipped homes I have seen.  But that is not true for all.

Sep 18, 2012 08:24 AM #9
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

Most of the Flips....have Flopped!

Sep 18, 2012 10:26 AM #10
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M
James - In many flips, they're trying to turn them around as quickly as possible.
Sep 18, 2012 03:58 PM #12
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Debbie, In most instances that is correct. Once in a while I actually find one that has been well done. 

Clint, There are certain terms in this business that give inspectors heartburn :)

Don, It must be based on what I see :)

Steven, Good work always takes a little more time, something it seems not everyone wants to part with. 

Rich, First make sure the inspector actually goes on to the roof.

Shane, Everything should be scrutinized on remodels. 

Carla, Funny. I can think of one however that does not, mold :)

Jay, You like that? Take a close look at the cap on the right. Another innovation. 

Evelyn, I completely agree. 

Ginger, Yep.

Erica, In my experience the good ones are very few and far between. 

Christine, Yes, that is understandable, but doing a crumby job is not. 

Sep 18, 2012 10:20 PM #13
Vanessa Saunders
Global Property Systems Real Estate - White Plains, NY
From Manhattan to the Catskills of New York

This is a familiar pattern with flipped houses. Yet another good reason to hire a reputable home inspector.

Sep 18, 2012 11:03 PM #14
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I saw the little orange thing but can't tell what it is.  Too small.  Silly putty?  Chewing gum?  Tutti-fruti duct tape?

Sep 19, 2012 09:55 AM #15
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Vanessa, A very familar pattern. 

Jay, Check my latest post, you'll be impressed. 

Sep 20, 2012 09:23 PM #16
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