How To Handle Issue With New Construction

wonka27February 26, 2009

I don't know if this would be best here or on the building forum, but I thought I'd try here first.

My wife and I are in the process of building in a development. Things are moving along, foundation is poured, etc.

The past week or so, we have had strong winds in our area - with March rolling in that is no surprise. Through another local forum, we have discovered that people in the development we are building in have had some significant issues with their roofs. Shingles have been blown off, torn, name it. Two people have been kind enough to privately speak with me and tell their stories. The one person had roof problems since day one, supposedly fixed under warranty and now is having the problems mentioned above. This person actually had a roofer come out and told her that their roof was not installed well and should be replaced because of the large quantity of loose shingles. She also said the roofer has replaced one roof in the development already, and that another homeowner had a roof replaced by the builder right after moving in. I personally drove through the development. There are about 100 homes right now, and I saw at least 4 with some blown shingles or severely lifted. This was while I was trying to drive as well and only seeing mostly half of the homes' roofs. By the way, the oldest home is only 3 yrs old! Many of these homes were built during the final part of the building boom around here, so maybe things were slapped together a little too quick, but I still worry.

My wife and I are very concerned about this, as you would imagine. Most accounts say that this builder does a good job building a solid home. Apparently the roof issue is surfacing now, though. I feel as if we are past the point of no return, however, we feel we must do something. I wrote our realtor to gain advice, but would like other input as well.

What do you think we should do? Should we let the builder know we are aware of these issues surfacing and expect a quality roof among all other things? I know this has raised my awareness to getting a home inspection before occupying and maybe at our final warranty submission.

Any guidance is highly appreciative.

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A home inspection at the end of the build will be too late and will only expose superficial problems. You need to get an inspector to come in and check at the critical stages of your construction. If you didn't include this upfront in your contract you will probably find that your builder won't be happy about someone checking his work. You know your builder ... decide to do this with his knowledge or sneak in with your inspector after hours.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 5:42AM
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You need to find out specifically what the problems are that your neighbors have discovered. And then bring this up with the builder and tell him that you expect the issue to not be one on your home.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:13AM
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Does your area require permits? Talk also with your local building dept/officials and express your concern. Most inspectors inspect as the house built, but in tracts sometimes not every house gets inspected as it should. Be firm, and could you get something i writing?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 5:40PM
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Having build and lived on top of a hill in a high wind area, I have seen a number of homes with roof problems. With extreeme high winds of around 100 MPH, even tiled roofs had problems in my area. In my immediate subdivision we had 3 tab asphalt shingles.
I was told that the roofs with the most problems had been installed on cold, overcast days. Talking to a roofer about that, he stated that it's best to install the shingles on sunny and warm days, because the asphalt on the shingles heats up and will set and adhere better to the roof.
I don't know if you or the builder can influence the timing of the installation, just hope for a nice hot day.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 7:00PM
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Thank you all for the great advice. Our realtor said he'd be happy to talk to the builder about this issue, as I think he realizes now that this could be a problem. I gave him the specifics that I mentioned here, so he can use that info as he sees fit. Hopefully a friendly conversation will put them "on notice" at least that we are serious about making sure things are done properly. I may call the township as well to see if and how they inspect the roofs, and express that there have been some problems. My BIL said many municipal inspectors around here may just do a drive by on roofs and not actually get up there to check on the work. The wind thing could be valid in our development -- it is very wide open and some of the houses do sit on high ground. That could have contributed to the problem. We will probably do a home inspection before occupying. If I recall what I read, we are allowed, although they do not hold any responsibility for anything found - although we can make it a warranty issue anyway. I can also check to see how they schedule roof work, although it may not be a controllable issue.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 10:07PM
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asphalt on the shingles heats up and will set and adhere better to the roof.

It's not the whole shingle, but the adhesive sealing strips that activate in heat.

There are a whole host of requirements for shingles in high-wind areas, from nailing patterns and sizes, to the type of shingle, underlayments, starter strips and valleys.

Here is a link that might be useful: Asphalt Shingles in High Wind Areas

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 10:50PM
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You need to ask the owners that gave you this info who exactly put their roof on, then ask the builder who is putting your roof on. You also should be able to pick your own shingles, no? You want to make sure you are not putting the cheap builder grade. If those black mold marks are common on roofs there you want a shingle that will stop it.

We have a new build as well and depending on what subcontractor was used, some people have issues with some things while others don't. On my warranty list I'm able to see they used 2 different contractors per thing.

Take the painter that was used.. he did a crappy job. I have paint spots all over on every single floor. Yes it comes out but I shouldn't have to need to do that.

As far as warranty - also ask the people giving you info how they are with actually fixing issues. Do they come back in time or make you wait? Ours is slow but from what I hear it eventually does get done, and the longer they wait, if something gets worst, they fix that instead.

I would get an inspection in hindsight. I kick myself & it's been almost a year. In your case I would also call a roofer to inspect the roof before closing.

Also have money held in escrow if you can to ensure they come back to fix stuff. I kick myself on this too.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 4:31PM
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How did you make out with selling your other house? Did you close?

I think you said you are in PA. Do you care to share who the builder is?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 4:33PM
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Rose -

Thanks for the good advice! I will definitely keep your wise words in the front of my mind! I am in the Lehigh Valley area. I'm not going to throw the builder's name out right now, but if you want me to email you I'd be happy to. As for our house, we haven't closed yet but knock on wood everything seems to be lined up. The buyer received his mortgage commitment a couple of weeks ago and we were able to settle on his home inspection items. It's all down to packing up and getting out of here. We really lucked out on temporary housing - a friend of my wife's parents inherited a small modular home and is willing to rent it out to us furnished for a few weeks while our house is being finished. We should hear from our lender this week about our mortgage, as I keep my fingers strongly crossed there. We were assured we'd be fine by our loan officer, but in this time in history, I still worry! Once we get that, and make sure this roof thing is a non issue, we will be pretty well lined up as well!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:46PM
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Our builder was Richmond, not sure if that helps you any. I'm pretty sure they're building in your area. If it's the same builder, feel free to email me.

Sounds like everything is going great for you guys. Hopefully that continues.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 10:21AM
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"We will probably do a home inspection before occupying"

Depending upon your expectations, you may be disappointed in the result. The house has not been lived in so no load has been put on the electricity, plumbing, structure etc. Therefore, any deficiencies in these area will more than likley not be evident from a home inspection. The HI will only be able to supply minimal info at best.

Best bet is to also plan to have ANOTHER home inspection before the warranty expires, but after the house has been lived in....becuase any problems that may result from shoddy workmanship will have become known after actual use.

A home inspection is basically a performance new construction has had little chance to perform, there is not a lot (other than superficial issues) that will be found that you can't see for yourself.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 11:31PM
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I will repeat my previous statement ...

"A home inspection at the end of the build will be too late and will only expose superficial problems. You need to get an inspector to come in and check at the critical stages of your construction."

The builder is NOT looking out for your interests. Why wouldn't you hire an inspector or PE to make sure that things are done properly at EACH stage? A small price to pay for peace of mind.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 7:28AM
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chispa: "Why wouldn't you hire an inspector or PE to make sure that things are done properly at EACH stage?"

Good in theory...but very hard to find one that is truly capable of performing such inspections in any way that is really worthwhile.

Few if any P.E.'s and/or Home Inspectors are knowledgeable in all phases of construction code, and, they must be able to read blueprints.

Without full code knowledge for that specific town or city, and without the ability to read blueprints, phase inspections are really not meaningful.

P.E.'s are licensed in specific disciplines...that said, a structural engineer can phase inspect for the structural aspects, but won't have a clue about residential electrical or plumbing or HVAC code.

One would need to hire an independent code inspector who is experienced in ALL code, which is also difficult because most specialize in only one or two disciplines ...and , most don't perform such private party inspections due to the liability involvedÂ.as when they work for the municipality, they are not personally liable.

The best bet would probably be an architectÂas they have most of the skill set needed to do the jobÂbut again, due to the liability, few if any perform such inspectionsÂand, generally one does not become and architect simply to perform inspections of new construction.

That established new home buyers should be VERY wary indeed of ANY inspector and/or engineer and/or contractor and/or code inspector who claims they do such inspections. Make certain that they have documented knowledge experience in ALL LOCAL code as well as the ability to read blueprints. Check references as wellÂ.AND, verify that they carry both liability and errors and omissions insurance.

Last but not least...the time to do this is obviouly at the beginning...and with a clause built in to the purchase contract that the builder will not only allow such inspections...but will also rectify any violations or deficiencies found by the inspector.

Getting a builder to agree to this may not be at all easy...but, I suppose in this market, the chance is a bit better.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 12:20PM
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