Every Mistake Possible On One Brand-New Roof

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

Doing a new construction inspection, with a flat, front-porch EPDM roof, it's hard to do, but I found every mistake possible on one brand-new roof.

For the client, to say it was disappointing would not begin to approach their true feelings.  This house provided me 8.5 pages of notes, and I write my notes in shorthand.

EPDM is a synthetic rubber roof, made by Firestone.  Properly installed it is a great product.  Poorly installed the roof can have rotting within a couple of years.

This is what every post on the guardrail over the porch looked like.

Obviously uninformed as to how to do seams, this "installer" simply piled layer upon layer of material.

Under and all around each post!

See how the subsurface is already sinking?

There should be no puddles on an EPDM roof - the material can't handle it!

And never mind gluing the edges!

Of course the edges must be glued.  But even when they are the top of the edge is not left exposed like that.

There is a special way to finish the edge, and a professional installer would know that.

See what's going on in the background, against the brick?

Yes, the EPDM is merely left vertically pushed against the brick.

That is not flashing!

And all along the roof!




This front porch is the last thing they did on the house during construction.

You are looking at a surface that is less than one month old.

It is already puckering, bubbling, ponding water and loose.

That is because this synthetic rubber had been glued directly to the oriented-strand board subsurface.  That's okay IF THE OSB WAS CLEANED AND PRIMED PROPERLY FIRST.

Not only does the glue not stick well unless it's cleaned and primed, but it is a very rough material and there is little surface for the glue to stick to.

Firestone has many recommendations as to better subsurfaces to use.  They even make one!

Firestone even offers a free on-line course to demonstrate how to install this stuff!  It's, um, free!

This roof is how the inspection began on this house, costing well over $1 million.

Like I said, 8.5 pages of shorthand notes!

You want one more?

This is what counted for caulking all over the house.

This builder needs to stop raiding the local elementary school for fourth graders who will work for cheap.

I joke about that, but that is precisely what is going on here - "professionals" hired because they are cheap.

Forget experience.  Forget skill.  Forget pride and craftsmanship.  Forget it.

This is what we have now!

And it stinks.

My recommendation:  don't count on the house to be your dream house until you examine it thoroughly and go as high into the organization as it takes to get the builder to present a final product that you are proud of.  Who is the boss here anyway?  I was already on the bad-boy list with this builder because on the pre-drywall inspection on this house I had the nerve to suggest that the flaps on each side of insulation was to facilitate stapling to secure the insulation to the studs forever.  You would have thought I wanted them to fly to Mars!  Finally, after presenting the builder with a multiplicity of links I provided, my client got them to relent on stapling the insulation.  Why have to fight over that?  STAPLING INSULATION IS BASIC!!  If I was the supervisor I would be embarrassed to my toes to walk through this house with my clients on the "reveal."  I'm going to expect that he will not say everything I identified in the voluminous report, NOT IN SHORTHAND, is "already on my list to do..."




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Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560



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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I really think it stinks Steven.  People think they are saving a buck by hiring cheap.  Not so.

Oct 17, 2013 03:14 AM #21
Tom White
Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com - Franklin, TN
Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN

Jay, we always recommend a home inspection for new construction. Unfortunately, new homeowners just don't believe that a new home builder would do shoddy work. I'll be sharing this with them as an example in the future. Thanks.

Oct 17, 2013 03:37 AM #22
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I run across problems on every new home inspection Tom.  Some egregious, some not so, but always.

Oct 17, 2013 05:21 AM #23
Sylvia Jonathan
Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties - Irvine, CA
Broker Associate, SFR

Was this a small local custom home builder or a major company?

Oct 17, 2013 02:37 PM #24
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

This is a large national company Sylvia, of whom you have heard.

Oct 17, 2013 05:19 PM #25
David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg

This is crazy how does this kind of poor work pass an inspection with the city/county or whoever is signing off giving them the CO???

Does anyone care anymore or has our fearless leaders stripped that away from the majority these days???

Oct 17, 2013 05:24 PM #26
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

"Embarrassed to your toes" is right...Yicks !

Oct 19, 2013 07:37 PM #27
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Hard to believe a builder of such an expensive home can do the job that doesn't reflect that price. 

Oct 19, 2013 11:41 PM #28
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

David - because they walk through the house in a couple of minutes and check smoke detectors and GFI receptacles...

S&D - I sure would be.

Jim - it is hard to believe (says he, with a drippingly sarcastic cough...).

Oct 21, 2013 06:46 AM #29
Lynn Pineda
eXp Realty - Boca Raton, FL
Real Estate Promises delivered in SE Florida

Jay, it's all too common that many hire professionals for cheap and as you found out, more times than not you pay for what you get. It's almost criminal in what some contractors will do.

Oct 23, 2013 02:21 AM #30
Jim Beitz
Keller Williams Success Realty - East Layton, UT

Like a nightmare for the folks who paid to have it done.  I would like to be a fly on the wall for the conversation with the installer, and maybe even a city building inspector who should have signed off on the finished product?


Oct 23, 2013 02:52 AM #31
Laura Foreman
Referral Maker Real Estate CRM - Carlsbad, CA
Copywriter, Buffini & Company

Great post, Jay! Your clients are very lucky to have you to look out for them.

Oct 23, 2013 03:23 AM #32
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

I agree, what a great post.  The assumption that new construction should be in perfect condition sure is a big mistake for any buyer of a new construction home.  

Oct 23, 2013 03:42 AM #33
Vanessa Saunders
Global Property Systems Real Estate - White Plains, NY
From Manhattan to the Catskills of New York

There is just no excuse for this kind of shoddy workmanship. Ridiculous!

Oct 23, 2013 04:32 AM #34
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

Maybe it would be helpful in the contract to require that all work shall be completed in a timely, professional and workmanship like manner, according to building and safety codes, industry standards and manufacturer specifications, instructions and recommendations.  Would a professional quality builder object to that? 

Oct 23, 2013 05:10 AM #35
Marc McMaster
RE/MAX Centre Realty - State College, PA
Putting my clients before myself

And things like that are exactly why folks need to do inspections on brand new homes. 

Oct 23, 2013 05:26 AM #36
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Lynn - the builder said to the buyers that since I took the class offered by this manufacturer the installation techniques have changed and I am incorrect in my thinking!  Well, we'll see about that!

Utah - the county would not get up to look as closely at this as I did.  Which is part of the problem here I think.

Laura - see my comment to Lynn above!  Again, we'll see, but thanks!

Morgan - that's a poor assumption and, as we all know, something happens when we assume!

Vanessa - that was my thinking too, but right now I am persona non grata with the builder!

Oct 23, 2013 06:39 AM #37
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I have never read the contract, Jerry, but suspect it reads just like that!  And, it's subjective to be sure!

Marc - the builder is firm in his position too.  That's when I get to work.


Oct 23, 2013 07:39 AM #38
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Wow! That certainly is poor workmanship and a flat roof needs all the attention to detail it can get.

Feb 08, 2014 03:55 AM #39
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Wayne - that builder was so sure I was wrong they invited Firestone to the house to have a look at the roof.  The Firestone agent looked at it, and my report, and said that not only was I right, but that my contention that these kinds of mistakes are likely elsewhere in the neighborhood was probably also correct.

He investigated other houses and made the builder tear the EPDM roofs off of all of them!  The next time I was in the neighborhood I was treated like a rock star by the residents...

Feb 08, 2014 03:58 AM #40
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