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 Retaining Walls     Real Estate Issues     Roofing     Roof Decks



1. CONCRETE RETAINING WALL BLOCKS: Retaining walls have come a long way in the past 10-20 years. There are now varieties of concrete retaining wall blocks for nearly any retaining challenge. They are usually rated by wall height. Note that any block retaining wall over 3 feet high should be tied back into the bank in some fashion.


1. FEASIBILITY CLAUSE: When purchasing a lot for new construction, be sure to include a feasibility clause. A standard feasibility clause will give you a period of time (usually two or three weeks) to examine the details of “buildability” with the City or County. In today's political climate, County or City bureaucrats determine if a lot is “buildable,” not the lot's owners. Drainage, Environmental, fire-flow, and other regulations, both Federal and local, could make the subject lot either unbuildable or too expensive to build on. Because there is now a matrix of overlapping, underlapping, and sideways-lapping rules and regulations affecting any vacant lot, anywhere in the U.S., it is usually a good idea to get a professional builder involved in your lot purchase. Despite what they may tell you, very few realtors have the requisite knowledge to advise you of the potential hazards.
2. UNDERSTANDING REAL ESTATE COMMISSIONS: Real Estate Commissions are typically divided four ways. The listing agent and the listing brokerage typically split one half of the total commission, and the selling agent and selling brokerage split the other half. Raw land typically has a higher commission attached to it because land is usually much cheaper than a complete home.


1.ASPHALT OR COMPOSITION?: When choosing an asphalt/composition roof, discount the estimated life by about 1/3. For example, if the roofing is “certified” for 25 years, you can expect to get about 16 years of useful life.
2. SPONGY AREA ON ROOF: Roofing plywood or OSB is not as thick as flooring plywood, and will normally flex somewhat under your weight. However, a large area that is spongy when you walk on it, may indicate a problem developing underneath.
3. DON’T USE COMPOSITION SHINGLES FOR LOW SLOPE ROOFING: If your roof has a slope of less than 2 inches in rise for every 12 inches in run, then a traditional composition roof may not be the best option. You should consider options such as torch-down, rubber, single-ply membrane (see picture), or traditional hot-mop roofing.
4. COMPOSITION ROOFING OPTIONS: Asphalt/composition shingles are the most popular option for roofing, probably because they are the least expensive. Go figure. They are typically rated in expected years of life: E.G. 25 year roof, 30 year roof, and etc.
5. MOSS ON ROOF: In any region of the country that gets more than a little rain, moss will be an issue. I have had good luck with standard moss-out products. The dry granular product, when applied to a wet roof after the rain has stopped is most effective.
6. MULTIPLE LAYERS OF ROOFING: Roofing over the existing roof is one way to minimize the cost of re-roofing. This will require slightly longer nails or staples and may void any warranty on the new roofing. However, doing it yourself is probably going to void any warranty anyway (see my section on Warranties). Most roofing contractors will discourage overlaying the old roof. If they do, ask them if they will take the old roof off for nothing? However, I would discourage using more than one additional layer of roofing due to roof loading issues. Some flashing issues may also arise when roofing over an existing roof.
7. DON’T FORGET TO DOUBLE THE STARTER COURSE: One common “do it yourself” error when roofing is to overlook the double layer at the “starter course.” The “starter course” is the beginning row of roofing at the gutter line. Even with a vapor barrier, the “starter course” must be doubled to insure no leaks. Many roofers just use a reversed shingle (tabs up not down) as the starter course, taking care to offset the cracks between the shingles.
8. PATCHING A SMALL HOLE IN COMPOSITION ROOFING: A small limb hole in asphalt/composition roofing that has also punched through the sheathing underneath, can be fixed by sliding a flashing shingle under the upper course of roofing.
9. LIQUID “RUBBER” OR OTHER PAINT-ON ROOF COATINGS: Don't expect too much out of a paint-on type roof coating. Many advertise a “7 year” or “10 year” warranty, but when you read the fine print you find they exclude “ponding.” If you have a flat roof, then ponding is usually unavoidable.
10. LIQUID PAINT-ON ROOF COATINGS: Liquid paint-on roof coatings can be effective as a patch or seal over an existing roof, but are not made to be a substitute for an actual roof. I recently used a white “rubber” liquid roof product to coat an old hot-mop roof and gravel system, but I fixed some larger holes with a torch-down product first.
11. TIDE DETERGENT WILL KILL MOSS ON ROOFS: “Tide” detergent will kill roof moss almost as effectively as the “moss-out” products


1. SINGLE-PLY PVC MEMBRANE DECKS / ROOF DECKS: The first issue in considering a single-ply roof deck is the material. For my money, PVC membranes offer superior flexibility and overall quality.
































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