5 Things Contractors Constantly Forget

Finding a good contractor is always a stressful process. You can search the web, ask friends, or go on Angie’s List, but repairs and renovation present a special problem.  Home repair services are credence goods. Unlike a hair cut or style which you can adequately judge and determine quality, most consumers can not determine whether or not their contractor has performed a quality service.  We recommend having all repairs and renovations inspected by a qualified home inspector, who can determine quality. Don’t think it’s important? Here are 5 things your contractor may have forgotten.

1. The Nails.

Joist hangers are a great way to attach joists to girders, beams, or ledger boards. All that is required is the correct size hanger and proper nails. Joist hanger manufacturers make it really simple by describing the kinds of the nails to use, and providing a hole where each nail is needed. Despite the ease of installation, we still see contractors forget the nails. I suppose its better than when they forget the hangers, but when home owners pay the bill, they are typically expecting that something as important as the nails wasn’t forgotten.

joist hanger nails-richmond home inspector

2. The Directions.

Without directions, we might find ourselves toasting pop tarts with the wrappers on, or using blow dryers under water. They keep us safe. That doesn’t mean you can expect your contractor to read them. Recessed lights that are not rated for direct contact with insulation usually have a warning label on them that explains that insulation must be kept at least 3″ away.  I like to give installers the benefit of the doubt and assume they just missed the large warning during the entire time they were installing the light. There is no way contractors consciously dismissed the warning. Right?

recessed light in contact with insulation richmond home inspectornon ic light richmond home inspector

3. Emergency Egress

Egress requirements are designed to ensure home occupants can safely exit their homes. During an emergency, your bedroom windows might be the only way to safely leave your home.  It can be easy to forget about egress when planning your home renovations. A qualified contractor shouldn’t forget though.  In the photo below, you can see that outside of the window is the deck, bordered with lattice. There was no opening. If an occupant did escape through the window, they would need to find a way to penetrate the lattice.

egress problem richmond home inspector

4. Fire Separation

There are a lot of details to consider when it comes to your garage/dwelling fire separation wall. When you hire a contractor to add an attached garaged, you expect him to know these details because it involves your families safety. Don’t assume anything. I won’t go into all of the details, but the requirements are implemented for fire resistance since garage fires are not uncommon. Here is a hint, if you can see the car in your garage through a window, your contractor probably forgot something-like the garage/dwelling fire separation requirements.

garage/dwelling fire separation requirements richmond home inspector

5. Kick Out Flashing

Flashings are materials, usually metal or plastic, that are installed to direct water away from building openings. Flashing is installed around windows, doors and roof penetrations such as plumbing vents or chimneys. The most common piece of flashing that is forgotten is called kick out flashing. Kick out flashing is installed where gutters stop at a wall, or chimney. It directs water into the gutter instead of down or behind the siding. Forgetting it causes deterioration of the siding, or sheathing. I have even seen water leak all the way down to the crawlspace and cause rot to band joists and sill plates. When looking for a contractor to install kick out flashing, just ask the contractor if he knows what it is, if he says no, call someone else.

It is hard to find good contractors, and even when think you hired a good one, you may have no idea what they missed. It’s always a good idea to hire a home inspector to get a second set of eyes on their work.