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Old 06-17-2013, 07:49 AM   #1
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Porch, Rotting Wood, Carpenter Ants and Recently Rubber Roofed


We bought a house 7 months ago and, although we knew there was some rotting wood on the screened in porch we were of the understanding that it was merely trim that needed to be replaced. We had the roof jacked up and pressure treated 4x4 supports put in. A month after we had the (flat) roof replaced with a rubber roof. My understanding was that the roofer also replaced (or added) plywood sheathing.

Over the weekend I went to town ripping out all of the rotting wood. I was actually going to completely rebuild it all except for supports, joists and roof. As I started getting into it and tearing out the ceiling I found out that much of the decking under the roof (yes, still decking in there even though I thought it was replaced with plywood) is rotted. There is a carpenter ant infestation. At least 2 of the joists are toast. I know almost nothing about architecture so not sure of the correct term but the "header" beam is rotted in the middle so it's sagging. I stopped demo and used a 2x4 and a hydraulic jack to jack it up while I make plans to move forward.

My belief is that the roofer is at fault here. He should have torn off, then seen evidence or rot then either investigated further or told me it's iffy.

I've left a couple messages with the roofer. Don't expect to hear back soon. What do I do here? Should I tear the whole thing down then pay to re-roof? Is the roofer at fault? Should I try to kill all the ants, finish taking down the wood I can, reinforce the joists then piece it all back together? What about the half-rotten decking? If i leave it will I have problems in the future?

Help! Thanks.

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Old 06-17-2013, 09:01 AM   #2
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Porch, Rotting Wood, Carpenter Ants and Recently Rubber Roofed


Hi JP,

And I am sorry for your troubles. It is very easy to be a Monday morning quarterback on something like this, but as usual, a couple of things about this do not make sense. It is usually pretty easy to see deflection in structural members and wood decking when it has gone bad. A thorough inspection and a proper specification for repair should have been developed.

As far as the roofer goes, I consider him to definitely be partly at fault for several reasons, and I will tell you what I think after you answer a couple of questions.

1. Was this roofing project done on the weekend, like Saturday and Sunday?

2. Who told you that the damage you had was limited to the trim? Because I hold this person responsible also, and I see a "Whole House" inspector recommended by a Real Estate Agent in my Crystal Ball.

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Old 06-17-2013, 09:09 AM   #3
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Porch, Rotting Wood, Carpenter Ants and Recently Rubber Roofed


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Hi JP,

And I am sorry for your troubles. It is very easy to be a Monday morning quarterback on something like this, but as usual, a couple of things about this do not make sense. It is usually pretty easy to see deflection in structural members and wood decking when it has gone bad. A thorough inspection and a proper specification for repair should have been developed.

As far as the roofer goes, I consider him to definitely be partly at fault for several reasons, and I will tell you what I think after you answer a couple of questions.

1. Was this roofing project done on the weekend, like Saturday and Sunday?

2. Who told you that the damage you had was limited to the trim? Because I hold this person responsible also, and I see a "Whole House" inspector recommended by a Real Estate Agent in my Crystal Ball.
1. Not done on a weekend. Curious why you ask that... maybe if it was done on a weekend they didn't feel like dealing with any unexpected issues and decided to plow forward?

2. Honestly don't even want to hear the scolding I will get from this answer but... The house was completely dilapidated. I had a few pros walk through instead of a whole house inspector: roofer, electrician, plumber, architect (friend or friend). The appraiser also marked exception on the porch so we needed to have a licensed contractor come inspect the porch then write a letter regarding whether it was structurally sound. That contractor said it was structurally sound IF the supports were replaced. That contractor replaced the supports.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:11 AM   #4
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Porch, Rotting Wood, Carpenter Ants and Recently Rubber Roofed


Post some pictures.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:15 AM   #5
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Post some pictures.
Pics: https://plus.google.com/u/0/10679336...ts/Xj5duPHFTSH

Note the puddle on the upper side of the roof... that was there immediately after it being roofed. Obviously evidence that "somethin ain't right"
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:18 AM   #6
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Porch, Rotting Wood, Carpenter Ants and Recently Rubber Roofed


Actually I was thinking that you hired someone that was doing this as a side job, and getting the materials from his real job, probably unbeknownst to his employer. Happens all the time in the roofing business. So yes I was thinking he was pressed for time and just "Ploughed Through"

The following is for the future:

A unit price is a complete cost for installed work that is unforeseen or hidden. You would typically have a sq, ft. cost for decking replacement, and a board foot cost for dimensional lumber. Using Board foot covers you no matter what size dimensional lumber you use, ie one foot of 2 x 6 = 1 board foot.

The other way to do it is time and material, wherein you agree to pay for labor and materials plus a reasonable markup and profit.

This makes handling unforseen issues fair to both the owner and the contractor.

As an old timer that only knows one way to do things, I think that what this roofer did was unforgivable, but I do not know what the arrangement was between the two of you. If you gave him the impression that you were strapped, and kept telling him you could not afford to spend any more than the price you agreed to, then I see his point.

If you told him to let you know if he found any hidden problems and you would be glad to bear the cost for repair then he is at fault. The problem with this is one of perception, and that is why you need to nail down those costs up front.

Hopefully you are not a Flipper, because Flippers complain about the price, and hold contractors to their numbers in spite of what is fair, because they are only in it for the money.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:22 AM   #7
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On the subject of haggling - I made him knock $100 for the porch part of the project. We paid $13,000 total for the whole house and a few minor things here and there + gutters.

He quoted $1500 for JUST the porch roof. We paid $1400. He said the flat roof material is expensive.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:25 AM   #8
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Oh and I'm not a flipper. Just your average fixer-upper-then-make-it-home-er...
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:29 AM   #9
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I just saw the picture you posted. If the rest of the house it like this you don't need a contractor yet, you need an operating engineer and a Cat 977
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpfulton248 View Post
On the subject of haggling - I made him knock $100 for the porch part of the project. We paid $13,000 total for the whole house and a few minor things here and there + gutters.

He quoted $1500 for JUST the porch roof. We paid $1400. He said the flat roof material is expensive.
You "Made Him"? Well, you gave him the impression that you were cheap by doing so, and he must have figured you wold not want to hear about it if he ran in to something unforeseen.

How many square feet is this porch roof?

I dont know about the other guys, but it is pretty darn obvious to me that this porch needed major work, and the header must have been bowed down like an old horses back ready for the glue factory. A structural assessment should have been made of the whole house before you bought it.

Can you post more pictures? Foundation, Floor joists, Rafters, Roof etc?
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:15 AM   #11
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You "Made Him"? Well, you gave him the impression that you were cheap by doing so, and he must have figured you wold not want to hear about it if he ran in to something unforeseen.
Porch roof is only about 120 sqft... 12 x 10 probably.

No additional pictures at the moment. Raised concrete slab. The bowed header wasn't as drastic/obvious because of the wood that framed the screen sections. It was only a couple 1x3's centered under the header and architecturally not designed to support the header, but I think they probably were adding some support.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:29 PM   #12
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Porch, Rotting Wood, Carpenter Ants and Recently Rubber Roofed


Talked to the roofer -

His stance is that he was aware of the rotten wood but thought I would want to go forward anyway. He said that "there are a lot of things I would have done differently if it were my house but I just take orders from the customer". I told him that as a licensed professional his job is not just to carry shingles and swing a hammer - it is to use his education and experience to advise, inform and communicate with the customer about suggestions and options. It is to let the INFORMED customer make decisions for themselves. I told him he made a poor decision on this one.

Basically he is going to ballpark me on a re-roof. I'm guessing he will propose splitting the cost.


Now, can anybody comment on whether leaving rotting wood will allow the ants to return?
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by jpfulton248 View Post
Talked to the roofer -

His stance is that he was aware of the rotten wood but thought I would want to go forward anyway. He said that "there are a lot of things I would have done differently if it were my house but I just take orders from the customer". I told him that as a licensed professional his job is not just to carry shingles and swing a hammer - it is to use his education and experience to advise, inform and communicate with the customer about suggestions and options. It is to let the INFORMED customer make decisions for themselves. I told him he made a poor decision on this one.

Basically he is going to ballpark me on a re-roof. I'm guessing he will propose splitting the cost.


Now, can anybody comment on whether leaving rotting wood will allow the ants to return?
The point is moot, as you can not leave rotten wood.

Based on your contractors response, I would not let him roof my doghouse.

Based on your photo, you need to rebuild your porch from jump street.

When you do, put some slope in the roof to get the water off. Yes you have to get under the felt which is hopefully under the siding on the rising wall.
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:20 PM   #14
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When you do, put some slope in the roof to get the water off. Yes you have to get under the felt which is hopefully under the siding on the rising wall.
I had this thought... minor issue: the roof lines right up underneath a door that comes off the 2nd floor master. I wouldn't be able to raise it on that side... only option would be to lower it on the other side. I'm definitely limited in the amount of pitch I can add.
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:32 PM   #15
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The point is moot, as you can not leave rotten wood.
Stupid question but, why can't I leave rotting wood? There is definitely no leaking issue now. That is resolved. Assuming I reinforce/replace joists and the only rotten wood left is the decking which has new OSB over it, what is the problem with leaving the rotten decking? Half just curious.

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