And the winner is....
DB Remod WI105, AKA Abe Degnan of Degnan Design Building in DeForest WI. Congratulations, Abe. Your book will be on its way to you about the first of the year, as soon as it is published.
It was a very close call, all the responses were great, thanks for participating everyone.
OtherGA1003 553 days ago
Thanks for all the great comments, most of them were right on, and a few people picked up some problems that I hadn’t considered. A few of these were on homes I was certifying, others on homes and projects I was just visiting. I like to collect what I refer to as “stupid contractor trick” photos to use in presentations and articles like this. Here are my takes on the pictures:
Image 1: We started off pretty simply (except for the fact that it was originally posted sideways) – too many jack studs. This falls into the “if one stud is good, two must be better, and five must be great” line of thinking. For those of us that remember construction before the days of nail guns, I think that when you had to hammer each nail in by hand, we tended to use less lumber. Add to that framing subs who are only responsible for labor and use up contractor supplied materials with reckless abandon, and little consideration for the insulation value of wood vs. insulation, and we end up with situations like this.
Image 2: This open cell spray foam on the roofline was way too thin a layer. The thinnest parts of this application were less than 4”, about R-14, when they were aiming for a minimum of R-19. In the moderate climate of Georgia, R-19 will do a pretty good job, although I am sure I will get an earful from my cold climate friends. In any case, the spray foam installers can sometimes do almost as bad a job as the batt guys. Regarding the comment that the orange foam sealant doesn’t fill the gap, it actually does, the dark line is a bit of bark at the corner of the plate.
Image 3: This is a flex duct connected to a metal Wye that had not a speck of mastic, or even useless metal tape anywhere on it. I have given up counting the jobs I have inspected where there is none or ineffective sealing at duct connections. Good pickup by AR1609 on the mastic outside the duct insulation – I have seen way too many projects where the ducts aren’t sealed where they leak (metal to metal and flex to metal), but they put plenty of mastic outside the insulation where it serves little, if any purpose. I always suggest to my clients that they require their HVAC contractors to leave the insulation unsealed until they can visually inspect the duct sealing, but it’s an uphill battle.
Image 4: This was an existing condition on a house I was doing a little consulting on. There was no work going on in this particular section of the house, but it was just such a blatantly stupid detail that I had to point it out to my client. Not sure what they ended up doing with it. Typical that satellite TV reception trumps water leakage in our society. Need to watch those football games, even if the roof is caving in.
Image 5: This is an older house in my neighborhood that I shot while I was scouting for some bad roof details for my book. Proves that architects and builders have been acting stupidly for longer that we might think. Since we don’t get many ice dams here in the south, this detail will probably last longer than in the north, but as the picture shows, this dead valley collects debris pretty fast, likely resulting in some serious damage during those monster rains we see occasionally.
Image 6: This is a house I visited under construction in northern California recently. I was trying to point out the obscene amount of overstructuring for the sake of the architecture. The steel beams acting as posts and beams have flanges and webs at least 1” thick – strong enough to hold up a good sized bridge and certainly way more than this little flat roof area. Did not see it completed, but I expect that they wer leaving the posts exposed as an architectural detail. Lots of thermal bridging, but this is in a climate that needs little, if any heating and cooling, so I’m willing to forgive them a little for that. And for those that noticed – it is attached to an enormous rammed-earth wall that is the key architectural element of the house but seems to serve little if any structural or thermal massing purpose.
Image 7: This was the easiest – no flashing anywhere. I watched while they put in these windows – nothing on the sill, nothing on the sides, nothing on the top. Another example of building professionals not understanding that water flows downhill. This particular picture is of a window under a porch, so this one won’t leak very much, but rest assured that every unit in the house lacks proper flashing. This wasn’t a project I was involved in, I just saw this while walking by one day. I would love to go back in a few years and start digging around and see just how much water has worked its way in.
The winner will be announced shortly, and they will get a copy of our green building textbook when it is published towards the end of December.
The Green Curmudgeon
NewConst002652 558 days ago
Well there are some smart people had a look at this already, but here goes.
Photo1 Stud overload. This guy clearly has a brother who works at the timber supply company.
Photo2 Some smart alec is insulating with candy floss.
Photo 3, If you make a hole for a cable you should put a cable in it?
Photo 4, They should cable clip that wire through the roof sheting
Photo 5, Health and safety people , Santa is going to slip a disc here.
Photo6, this construction is as ugly as my mother in law.
Photo 7, if you going to clad your house in sisalation turn the logo into the studs.
Ok so where 's my free book?
ProfServKS1040 559 days ago
Image #1: Framing Issue causing thermal bypass. You have a King Stud ad 5 Jack Studs supporting the header. Why so many Jack Studs? A second issue is "What can we do with advanced framing to reduce the thermal bypass of the header?"
Image #2: This appears to be open cell foam. Good insulation! Poor install. I believe it was probably sprayed too thick and not enough passes were made. The full cavity depth is not reached. The coverage is lumpy and probably has large air bubbles in it, further reducing the insulative value.
Image #3: Sheet metal ducts - great! Holes (2) drilled and not patched, not great! Also a question from the picture about the insulation. Is this envelope insulation, if so it is certainly out of place. If it is duct insulation, it is not doing its job. My first hunch is duct insulation. If so it was pulled away to access the duct and not reinstalled! Looks like some furnace tape on the top of the duct. If so, UL 181 mastic would be a better option.
Image #4 Bill Rose says that rain water is the worst enemy of a house. He discusses this valley in his writings. It deadends into a dormer or other part of the structure, backing up and the roof fails to do its job. Then you have the wires running around for water to follow. You have a satellite dish installed on the roof with stablizing anchors. Too many holes for me. Finally as you look at the corner of the dormer, it looks like some rot from the water has started already. What appears to be flashing is installed wrong.
Image #5: Very similar to Image 4 with debris and the end of the dormer and at the end of the valley. The power of the water is indicated by the shield on the gutter, which in this case is too close to the fascia on the dormer and just pushes the water up to the wood. It is already cracking.
Image #6: This is tough because it is unfinished, so the problem must be in the selection and placement of materials. You have a steel support structure. Seems like overkill for what appears to be a 15 x 20 canopy type roof structure. Then the builders start attaching 2x material to the steel so they can attach their roof joists to wood which is attached to steel. This looks like carpenters doing the familiar and an designer that did not look ahead and spec some hardware to attach the roof joists with. The steel itself is a costly thermal bypass, and this is magnified by the wood.
Image #7: This exterior sheathing looks like it is covered with a building paper, note the crinkled appearance and the washered fastener in the upper right corner. It shows the window frame. Looks like there is no flashing on the top or the side of the roughed opening to the window to properly align the WRB with the rough opening. So the water can pour into the opening and it will not be air sealed properly either.
Efficient Energy Savers
DB-RemdWI1015 560 days ago
1) Too many shoulder studs creates thermal bridging. Also the first top plate has been removed for the header which is not ideal. And it looks like the rafters are birds-mouthed deeper than the plate which can lead to splitting.
2) Rafters furred for what reason? Could be a problem or a solution. Bigger problem I see is the sloppy, uneven foam application. Looks like open cell and if it is it should be flush to bottom of rafters.
3) I agree with comments below, my first take was that the hole is big & left unsealed, but the other problems are evident as well.
4) Curled shingles, valley drains against house, cement board cut tight to roof, cement board wicking water.
5) Valleys converging and draining to a messy gutter situation. The wood gable fascia there is very vulnerable to rotting and leaking.
6) Look closely, the tapering is out of rim board not LVL. The beam splits them and hangs the rafters from it using hangers. This is quite a stumper but it could be thermal bridging from the steel or it could also be the cantilver of the roof sheathing above -- is that about 8"?
7) Improper housewrap details, no head flashing. Note the housewrap does not go all the way to the top of the wall either as can be seen at top right.
OK this was fun, I want to hear the correct answers.
abe at degnandesignbuilders.com
DB-RemdCO1788 560 days ago
OK, so now that you've turned the picture 90 degrees clockwise, I can see that we have --- count 'em!!! - 5 jack studs! Stiil, it doesn't matter which way you look at it, too much thermal bridging through all that loverly loverly wood.
DB-RemdIA2499 560 days ago
Lovely photos, Mr. Seville.
Image 2 - did they really splice together the rafters? Looks like they nailed the wood together - 24" OC. Is there any bearing left on the plate? Capacity looks insignificant - possibly the same framing crew from Image one.
Image 6 - Is the roof draining back towards the building envelope? Photo is a bit confusing as indicated by others. Gutters appear misplaced.
RemodSC1753 560 days ago
Photo 1. Too many jack studs, not enough king studs. Rafters appear to be bird mouthed. Do we have a double top plate or a single? If it is a double, the plates should continue over the header. If it is a single, the jack stud should be in contact with it and the extra top plate section should be removed.
Photo 2. The top plate is not secured to the header below and it is causing a gap. This could cause a sag in the roof. They obviously added 2x2s to the bottom of the rafters so they could up the R-value and then they did not fill the extra space in the cavity with foam.
Photo 3. Supply plenum not sealed. This will cause condensation.
Photo 4. The siding is wicking water from the roof. Cement siding is porous and should be 1 inch from the roof surface. A cricket could be constructed to alleviate the dam effect at the roof wall intersection. I had to do a double take when I saw this photo, I thought it was my house.
Photo 5. The shadow of the valley of rot! Valley not woven. Gutter could be 6 inch instead of 5 due to the large roof planes draining into it.
Photo 6. No hangers on tapered rafters. Not sure if rafter type is rated for roof load. It looks like band board.
Photo 7. Head flashing should go on before the house wrap. No peel and stick.
Real Estate Repairs LLC
Mount Pleasant, SC
RemodAR1609 560 days ago
1) Doesn’t look like there is a true sill plate and if you do call that a“sill” it won’t matter much because the sill isn’t resting on cripples. WAY too much wood under the window reducing the wall's insulation value as system, not to mention it's wasteful. It looks like the trimmer stud is 1X dimensional lumber. Whatever it is, it's turned the wrong way. Looks like they grabbed a lot of scrap laying around and just made something fill the void giving no thought to the structural integrity or the insulation value of the window framing. It’s ancillary to all the issues here, but there’s a huge gap at the bottom left corner of the actual window that needs to be foamed. Hopefully the framers got fired and the window was removed and installed properly.
2) Really bad foam job. If the wall to the left is an outside wall why on earth would it not be flash foamed then insulated? A little bit more foam while the truck is there is nothing. If the cavity on the right is any indication of the rest of the ceiling rafters, they are probably going to have moisture issues because of the voids. The insulation contractor should have either filled the cavities or preferably flash foamed them to stop air leakage and then used batts. If you stop all the air leakage, batts can actually work. Not sure what’s going on with the meeting of the rafters and the knee wall. But the orange foam used there didn’t span the gap. If the framing was done properly there wouldn't be a gap. The sheet rockers are going to love the foam overspray and the clip on the pony wall.
3) Where to start...Holes in sheet metal ducts. It looks like the zip tie from metal to flex is broken. Did somebody actually put mastic on the outside of the insulation? (bottom middle). I probably could have stopped at flex duct, that’s incrimination enough.
4) Wow. No drip edge on gable in the bottom left so the shingles are curling-that’s the least of their worries. Depending upon where this is, the woven valley is probably going to be a problem. Especially since the entire valley dead ends into a wall and by the look of the rest of the work I would be surprised if there was any type of roof to wall flashing. The roof to wall flashing at the end of the valley isn’t the right solution, but it would buy them a few more years before the sheathing, framing etc. behind the fiber cement siding rots out. Bad design from the start, but a cricket would solve a lot of the problem. Hopefully it’s not in an area that’s highly visible. All of that is compounded by the dish wiring the helps accumulate debris so the water can back up even further. There is no visible roof to wall flashing on the wall above the gutter. That won’t be there long, you can see in the picture that the wall is slightly darker just above the roof. It looks like it might be wicking water up. There’s absolutely no way that little gutter can handle what all comes off that roof. Look at the dark streaks on the font of the gutter. Adding to the fact that the gutter is undersized the nice TV installer “hid” the cable inside the gutter? Not conducive to allowing debris flow by.
5) Just a matter of time…”valleys” between dormers and roof aren’t woven properly. Where the dormers almost meet at the center of the picture better have ice and water shield underneath. It’s a nice thought, but we all know it’s not there. Horrible design for getting rid of water. Great design for problems. It looks like there is a wire between the dormers that’s helping to hold the debris on the roof. Maybe not, either way, this valley isn’t long for this world.
6) Most importantly, you can NOT taper cut I-joists. It looks like there’s steel everywhere, but the strength of an I-joist plummets when the top or bottom is cut. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but what on earth are those bluish posts doing? It looks like this thing is being attached to a rotten wall? And the open area in the background (looking between the two large posts) looks suspiciously like a water problem waiting to happen but I can’t tell for sure by the photo.
7) No head flashing. Housewrap can’t help if water gets blown on the wall above the window trim. That’s enough of a problem, but what do they intend to put on the house for an exterior finish? It can’t be brick, even vinyl siding would make the reveal of the trim disappear.
DB-RemdCO1788 560 days ago
Photo 1- Monstrous thermal bridging through the wildly excessive over-use of additional plates(?) below the window opening & (sideways studs ?) next to it.
Photo 2- It seems you're trying to illustrate the lack of fill from this expanding foam in the roof/ceiling rafter cavities.
Photo 3- Holes in ductwork left unsealed.
Photo 4- The siding is left too close to the roof surface; it's difficult to tell for sure if there is in fact step flashing, maybe it only appears to be there. The intersection of the upper roof portion to the obscured wall is a leak disaster waiting to trap ice & snow (not so much the liquid water) & create leaks; it needs a diverter cricket for the last few feet.
Photo 5- Not only are the two dormer peaks too close together likely creating ice dams & an overflowing gutter despite the ugly overflow shield on the gutter's face, the peak over the entry door is so poorly constructed where it meets the main roof, it's difficult to understand how it passed a building inspection.
Photo 6- Sorry guys, I don't quite see what the structure is supposed to be, so I can't tell if the problem is supposed to be the flashing where the TJIs attach to the main structure or the huge I-Beams (supporting what?) or something about the blue-ish pipes parralel to them which are doing what?
Photo 7- What flashing??? No head-flashing, no self-stick vinyl/butyl flashing on the side of the window either ( to seal the nails holding the trim. This is a water, rot & mold trap waiting to happen.