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ABC Special Report
Investigation: New Home Heartbreak
Trump - NAHB Homebuilders Shoddy Construction and Forced Arbitration
Lawmakers, developers should step up efforts to stop wood rot
Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Better insulation makes newer homes more susceptible to moisture problems
Newer homes are much tighter than those built long ago and provide more insulation. But as a recent Kansas City Star report on water problems shows, today’s construction methods and cheaper materials can contribute to serious trouble. To cut costs, many builders are making greater use of plywood or building stock made from glued wood chips, both of which are less resistant to moisture. If the builder — or the design — fails to allow for sufficient drainage, moisture can be trapped in porous materials.  Area inspector Dan Bowers says that once it’s wet, chipboard sheathing can become spongy and “crumble like a wet Saltine cracker.”

Better insulation makes newer homes more susceptible to moisture problems
Lawmakers, developers should step up efforts to stop wood rot

Garvey Scott | THE KANSAS CITY STAR
Exterior Insulation Finish System worker Robert Beal holds up a
“kick-out,” a molded sheet of plastic that prevents damage from
improper water run off.
Newer homes are much tighter than those built long ago and provide more insulation. But as a recent Kansas City Star report on water problems shows, today’s construction methods and cheaper materials can contribute to serious trouble.

The industry should take the lead in attacking these problems, but legislators and homeowners also have roles.

Older homes often have larger wall cavities with less insulation. That allows drafts, but it also allows water from any leaks to escape or dry up. Better insulation in some newer homes traps water, which can breed rot and mold.

To cut costs, many builders are making greater use of plywood or building stock made from glued wood chips, both of which are less resistant to moisture. If the builder — or the design — fails to allow for sufficient drainage, moisture can be trapped in porous materials.

Area inspector Dan Bowers says that once it’s wet, chipboard sheathing can become spongy and “crumble like a wet Saltine cracker.”

Matt Derrick of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City says the problem should be put in perspective. More than 80,000 homes have been built in our area since the early 1990s, and only a fraction have had problems with wood rot. The industry, Derrick says, has been “working with building inspectors to eliminate these problems and educate the industry.”

Yet these are not problems that any new homes should have. Increasing concern about water intrusion should raise alarms for builders, who cannot afford a perception among many buyers that acquiring a new house means assuming hidden risk.

Code inspection should be more rigorous. Lawmakers should ensure that new-home warranties run long enough to provide reasonable wood-rot protection.

Buyers can protect themselves with proper maintenance, and by engaging competent private inspectors to make sure their houses are properly caulked and flashed.

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/opinion/16257216.htm

 
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