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Does remediating earth to wood contact include putting flashing on deck?

Does remediating earth to wood contact include putting flashing on deck?

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  #1  
Old 08-11-14, 09:13 PM
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Does remediating earth to wood contact include putting flashing on deck?

We recently sold our home, the inspector came out and and said we need to install flashing between the deck and the house, and that we need to clear dirt from posts and install flashing, however when we got his report, all it said was "repair earth to wood contact all around deck" There is no other detail on his report regarding that. I assumed he forgot or changed his mind about the deck flashing since he told me a few other things that should be done in the house but did not put them in the report so we got a quote for doing everything except the flashing and agreed to pay for those repairs but putting the flashing in is apparently a very expensive proposition. Our agent said that everyone should know that 'earth to wood contact' includes putting in flashings, but the three people who gave me quotes didn't think that was required.

My question is, does 'repair earth to wood contact' include installing flashing? The deck is secured with a ledger and is about 8-10" off the ground where it attaches to the house and about 8' above ground at the other side. We are in Nevada.
Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 08-11-14, 10:50 PM
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The flashing of the ledger should have been done during construction. I'm not sure how you would do it now w/o removing all the deck boards at the minimum.

I don't even know what "clear dirt from posts and install flashing" means? What would the flashing accomplish? Are the wooden parts of the post in the ground or sitting on concrete piers?
 
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Old 08-11-14, 11:06 PM
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The posts are on piers but over time dirt has covered parts of them where wood makes contact, that is easy enough to take care of, the inspector wants the dirt cleared away and the lower part of the posts covered with flashing.

There was no flashing put on the ledger (deck was built in 1986) and you are right it would be very hard to do, and expensive. The real estate agent is insisting that the comment on the report "repair earth to wood contact" implies that we are to install flashing around the deck because the inspector told the buyer that it would be done. I told her flashing between the deck and the house has nothing to do with earth to wood contact as far as I know, and if he forgot to put it in his report, then I am not going to do it. She said "well it's contractor shorthand, when they put down earth to wood contact that always includes installing flashing if it's not there"
 
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Old 08-11-14, 11:25 PM
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Well, I guess I just don't understand what the flashing is supposed to do around the bottom of the posts. If they were installed with the proper standoffs on the concrete, putting flashing around them will just trap moisture, give crawly critters a place to hide, and conceal any rot or damage if/when it does occur. If they have sunk below the surface, then it seems like some slight regrading might be in order.

You're in a dry climate, much like me, so the typical rot found in other parts of the country isn't nearly as much of an issue. The deck has been there for near 20 years. If lack of ledger flashing was that big an issue, I imagine it would have caused a problem by now. Sure, it's commonly done currently, but it wasn't 20 yrs ago.

Of course arguing with the agent will just make them call the inspector and he can "clarify" his report. Who paid for the inspection? Who do you think the inspector will side with?

I doubt it was a code violation when it was built, like many other things that have changed since them.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 03:03 AM
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so remove the dirt from around the conc piers & wash down the supporting wood columns,,, no one ' flashes ' columns - we now use ' standoffs '

as far as the deck flashing, you can generally pry 1/8" space in the siding & slip it under the siding, hopefully you can also slide it down behind the deck boards,,, i think the problem's the home inspector - sounds like he just bought a word processing pkg,,, usually its buyer's who pay - wonder where they found him ? i suggest you retain 1 who has more creds,,, your real estate agent has no clue

btw, earth-to-wood is acceptable AND common if the wood's pressure treated
 
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Old 08-12-14, 04:21 AM
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just to clarify, not all PT wood is rated for ground contact!
IMO with the exception of fence posts, it's never a good idea to let the earth contact PT wood, while it will last longer than untreated wood, the PT will last the longest if it's kept above the grade.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 06:02 AM
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The buyer retained this guy, and I am being told that since he 'verbally' told me to put flashing around the deck when he was here I am supposedly now obligated to do it even though he didn't put it in his report. Our agent is telling me that somehow when a report says "repair earth to wood contact" that also means install flashing around the deck, that it is "inspector shorthand" I signed off on the required repairs thinking that the inspector had decided not to require flashing around the deck. The siding protrudes over the deck boards by about an inch, so from what I can tell the bottom of the siding will have to be removed, and we used that heavy restore coating on the deck so now you can't even see where the screws are to remove boards so they will probably have to be cut out.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 06:17 AM
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You don't automatically have to preform the work specified by the inspector but if you don't do it, that leaves it open for the buyer to back out. I'm not sure I buy the 'inspector shorthand' claim but it might be a good idea to sit down with the buyer and discuss what will be done.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 07:11 AM
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One more case of home inspectors who are working in the wrong field. It sounds like the buyer's inspector clearly shows he doesn't know a lot about deck construction, and the realtor isn't much better. Installing flashing around column bases is never done, because instead of preserving the wood members, it will do the exact opposite, causing more rapid deterioration of them by trapping moisture. Even though you live in a relatively dry climate, condensation will occur on the insides of the flashing with changes in temperature, and will never evaporate off because of being trapped and not exposed to the surrounding air.

I would tell the buyer you will not knowingly do anything that will shorten the service life of the property. There are other buyers in the world.
 
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Old 08-13-14, 09:57 AM
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I think we finally got this figured out, I called a handyman to get a quote on the work, he inspected the deck and said that in one tiny place at the edge of the deck dirt had filled up to the bottom of the ledger. Code is that flashing is required between the deck and the house, and is termed "earth to wood contact" if there is dirt within 3" of a ledger. He cleaned out the dirt, put flashing at the spot where the dirt had entered the edge of the deck and is cleaning out dirt from around the posts. Lesson learned, an idiot like me should never panic until they talk to a competent repair person =) This guy was great, he said when he called the inspector he wanted him to remove the ledger board and put flashing behind it, he explained the code and asked him if he cleared the dirt would that work and the inspector said "well, it will comply with code but you need to show me that the dirt won't displace again"
 
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Old 08-13-14, 11:43 AM
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A typical strange situation between the home inspector, the home owner and the potential buyer.

A home inspector is used by both buyers and sellers to evaluate a homes, its systems and potential corrective measure that can be taken. He has no authority, but, if certified (state or national) are registered shows that he has a certain amount of experiences (# of inspections and sample reports and possibly pass a test) Many are out of work construction "experts" and others highly qualified. They are NOT code inspectors but also do address safety problems to alert their client to potential situations and future expenses.

They are there to point out potential problems and expenses to their client (buyer or seller, but never a realtor). Sellers often hire the most expensive, nastiest inspector they can find to avoid last minute price negotiations at closing time.

The report to a potential buyer will list many items, such as general condition of systems (electrical, HVAC, plumbing that are immediate or need a specialist to to refer to (usually the will give 2 or 3 specialists to sort out correct some items.

This sound like a situation that was not right, but since it is not a code situation (just a condition), it was probably a general verbal comment to the buyer about a possible correction method if he chose to do something later and would not include it as requirement. There is a big difference between "could", "should" and "must" in a formal report, so verbal assists are acceptable.

The cost of a home inspection was too low (under $450 for time, driving, liability and report generation, etc.), so I tried inspections after almost 40 years experience(design and construction) and thought is was better to find another hobby. I was not mean enough to point out problems to the smart buyers that will pay the cost for something other than the mushy reports and did not want to deal with people that had other $$ influences (like realtors).

Dick
 
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Old 08-13-14, 12:25 PM
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The inspection was ordered by the buyer (probably at the suggestion of his agent) it was a cash sale so there was no requirement for inspections by the lender. When we signed the sales contract there was a provision for us to provide repairs for problems found in the inspection report up to a certain dollar figure. We figured we might get stuck for 'debris under the house' but not much else; the report came back with a list of 'required repairs' 1) repair earth to wood contact 2) clean debris from under house 3) secure some ducting that had come loose under the house 4) replace insulation that came loose from the attic. We signed off on it without limiting our liability thinking that at the most the repairs would cost $500 or so.

The guy we got the first quote from called the inspector who said that earth to wood contact meant putting flashing behind the ledger, which was really expensive, several thousand dollars. The second one told us that the entire deck needed to be moved away from the ledger - again, many thousand dollars. The third guy I called actually took the time to look under the deck and found that some dirt had shifted from outside the deck and was hitting the bottom of the ledger, he cleared it out called the inspector and that was the end of it; the inspector agreed that it now met code.

Moral of story don't ever agree to pay for repairs until you get quotes and figure out what exactly the inspector had in mind, we got really lucky with the third guy, he really knows his stuff and saved us a ton of money
 
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