Construction Defects

Renovation of 8209 172nd Ave., NE, Redmond by Trust Me Construction, Inc. (footnote)
TMC was responsible for all defects except as otherwise noted.


Key to Sections
1. Construction Permits  9.Counters and Cabinets
2.Roof, Gutters, Skylights, Solar Tube10. Gas Connection
3. Windows11. Drywall
4. Electrical12. Doors, Trim & Finish Work
5. Plumbing and Venting13. Furnace and Ducting
6. Insulation14. Painting
7. Structural15. Siding
8. Tile Work16. Flooring

For a fully updated list of defects with full definition photographs,
see Updated Defects List



1.1.   TMC started the work in June, 2004, long before Redmond building permits, which were issued on September 8, 2004.  The lock-box for the front door was purchased and installed on or about June 14, and labor items are invoiced from July on.

1.2.   TMC did not seek or obtain a plumbing permit.  The DeCourseys were told such a permit was not necessary because all the essential plumbing was confined to a single wall in the house, and the plumbing wall would not be moved.  Copper pipes were already installed in the house (not the old cast iron with a limited service life).  TMC stated their plumbing work would fit under the definition of “repairs.”

Ultimately, the DeCourseys were billed $8,882 for plumbing work.  July 2, July 28 estimates show that the plumbing work was planned well in advance of the application for the other permits.

1.3.   At time all TMC work ceased in May 2005, these Redmond Building Permit inspections had not been signed off.

1.3.1.  00470 Pre-construction


1.3.2.  00400 Footings/Setback


1.3.3.  00405 Foundation walls


1.3.3.  00410 Slab insulation


1.3.4.  00415 Roof nailing


1.3.5.  00425 Exterior sheer wall


1.3.6.  00420 Floor framing


1.3.7.  00450 Ceiling grid


1.3.8.  00440 Interior sheer wall


1.3.9.  00431 Glazing


1.3.10.  00437 Venting/VIAQ


1.4.   The first-floor garage, extending through the full depth of the house, was deeper than was necessary for holding two cars.  During the renovation, we had the rear part of the garage framed in and finished for a fourth bedroom and a third bathroom.  Building, plumbing, and electrical permits should have been obtained before beginning this work, but TMC informed us we would not need them because the work was within an existing structure.  Hence, the new bedroom and bathroom were not inspected and may not meet code.  (See also Insulation 6.8)

1.5.   As shown by the City of Redmond Inspections List for Permit #E042611, Automated Home Solutions either did not obtain permits or did not obtain inspections for the following electrical work that they performed during our renovation (under various contracts):

1.5.1.   105 SYS BNDNG GRNDNG


1.5.2.   110 ROUGH WALLS (some)


1.5.3.   111 ROUGH HARD CEILINGS (some)


1.5.4.   115 FIRE ALARM ROUGH


1.5.5.   116 FIRE ALARM OK/TEST


1.5.6.   120 CABLE TV


1.5.7.   121 DATA/PHONE


1.5.8.   123 LOW VOLT/OTHER (speaker wiring and home theater)


1.5.9.   135 SERVICE

1.6.   At the time all TMC work ceased in May 2005, the Certificate of Occupancy had not been issued, and DeCourseys were not informed of the lack by TMC.

1.7.   In a letter dated February 6, 2007 (but postmarked March 9), the City of Redmond declared the DeCoursey dwelling "illegal nonconforming," and announced the case would be consigned to Code Enforcement.


2.1.   Roof work was included in scope of work on Redmond Building Permit.  Redmond thus required a roof nailing inspection (00415).

However, though the roof was complete in November, 2004, TMC did not obtain an inspection signature for the roof while the construction was open and available to proper inspection by a Redmond building inspector.

2.2.   From the ground, the roof appears sway-backed. (See “Structural” 7.1)

2.3.   One serious flaw in TMC’s roofing is the nailing — the nails were not hammered down flush.  The nails are now working themselves out of the sheathing, poking upward into and through the over-lapping shingles.  With the sun’s heat, these nail heads are worrying holes in the overlaying shingles and destroying the integrity of the roof.  Humping in the shingles (caused by these improperly driven nails) is visible in many parts of the roof.  The small section of roof over the garage reveals 60 cases visible from the driveway, counted on August 14, 2005.  "Many fasteners are crooked or under-driven, causing damage to the overlying shingle. This is in violation of the manufacturer's requirements and good roofing practice."

“The nails used to fasten the 3-Tab material onto the newly installed roof are not flush mounted to the undercarriage of the shingles.  This nailing procedure does not meet industrial standards of construction.  In our opinion, the entire roof needs to be replaced and this should involve removal of all 3-Tab material and then assessment of the nail pattern.  We recommend retaining a reputable roofing contractor to evaluate the roof for replacement cost.”

2.4.   Some nails are bent over, leaving heads on an angle to damage overlaying shingles.  Some nails are driven into the adhesive strip on the shingles, interfering with the integrity of the roof.  "The correct number of fasteners per shingle is present at the areas observed, however, many fasteners are located within the seal-down strip, interfering with adhesion and in violation of the manufacturer's requirements for the fastener location ... Nail is not properly driven (bent over)."

2.5.   "The top of the fascia and plywood substrate have different elevations throughout the roof resulting in bending the shingles up or down from the plane of the plywood roof deck. These irregularities cause the shingles to be unsupported and result in a likely location for shingle damage (cracking), additionally they create ponding where water can run laterally under the shingles and they are unsightly."

2.6.   We were originally bid an architectural 6-tab roof with a 30-year guarantee (TMC estimates of July 2, July 28.  But without notice of change, TMC installed a non-architectural 3-tab roof.

The difference in shingle style is significant in this environment.  The 3-tab shingles have slots between the tabs that collect coniferous needle debris (shown in photo).  This debris cannot be removed with a leaf blower, and must be treated with a high-pressure stream of water or laboriously picked out by hand.

And given the many violations of the manufacturer's instructions, the manufacturer's guarantee will be effectively voided, according to a number of professionals we have consulted.

2.7.   The brand of material used was CertainTeed; we have requested that TMC supply us with the invoice and warranty from the manufacturer, but TMC has not given this to us.


2.8.   "There is no underlayment downslope of the skylight on the north side of the residence above the kitchen. This is in violation of the International Building Code (IBC) ... the manufacturer's installation instructions, and good roofing practice."

2.9.   Underlayment and shingles are not secured to sheathing at critical corners, to be easily lifted by wind.  "The starter strips at the rakes and eaves are not fastened in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions1 (Figure 12-7) as fasteners are not located just upslope of the starter seal-down strip. This provides opportunity for the shingles to become damaged during high winds."

2.10. Shingle nails are too short by IBC (Redmond) code, not adequately tying into roof sheathing.  "Many of the fasteners of the starter strip are not attached to the substrate. This is due, either to gaps in the substrate at the fastener locations or the length of the fastener is too short to penetrate the shingles and properly attach into the substrate."

2.11. "The roof overhang upslope and downslope from the chimney is not structurally supported and allows for movement of the roof deck ... At a minimum the following items must be addressed immediately: ... The roof overhang structure must be properly supported near the chimney as it is currently dangerous.

2.12. "The step flashings at the chimney are of particular concern. While these flashings are lapped properly, the chimney side is completely open at the top (see photos) allowing an obvious avenue for moisture intrusion. The installation is not in accordance to the manufacturer requirements ... At a minimum the following items must be addressed immediately: A sheet metal counterflashing must be installed around the chimney to properly flash the step flashings and create a weather-tight chimney. Due to the improper height of the chimney this may necessitate a soldered chimney cap flashing with counterflashing."  “The fireplace chimney is not flashed correctly.  When the roof was raised at this location, step flashing was not installed against the fireplace to prevent water intrusion.  We recommend retaining a masonry contractor to install this flashing to comply with building code requirements.”

2.13. "The roof penetration flashing flanges and the surrounding shingles are not lapped properly, do not have the correct shingle setback allowing for water to flow around the penetration (either non-existent or too large) and have exposed fasteners ... The flashing flanges have not been set in sealant and the penetrations are not as the manufacturer requires."  Vents were cut into roofing after shingles were laid, with resultant lapping of flashing and shingles not proper or adequate.

2.14. “The rafter vents on the newly installed roof are improperly flashed. ... The flashing flanges have not been set in sealant and the penetrations are not as the manufacturer requires (CertainTeed Shingle Applicator's Manual, Chapter 6, Soil Stacks and Vent Pipes, page 61)."  Failure to follow shingle manufacturer's installation instructions voids the warranty.  "When the roof is replaced, these concerns should be resolved."

2.15. Fascia on southeast corner (front over Living Room) was not fastened to house.

2.16. Sheathing does not meet fascia board on garage, leaving about an inch gap in shingle without support.  Some nails are "driven" into this gap — i.e., not fastened to roof.

2.17. "Starter strips at the rakes are not located properly as they overhang the fascia approximately 2 inches. The manufacturer requires a ¾ inch shingle overhang at rakes and eaves.  This causes the shingles to sag over the edges and eventually will result in cracking."  The National Association of Homebuilders manual “Residential Construction Performance Guidelines” states:  “Asphalt shingles shall overhang roof edges by not less than ¼ inch, and not more than ¾ inch unless the manufacturer’s standards/specifications indicate otherwise.” Residential Construction Performance Guidelines, pg. 14, 5-11.)

2.18. Roof below rear skylight over kitchen has horizontal trough that collects water and tree debris.  Trough extends to east and west past skylight.  The RTS inspector called this phenomenon "ponding where water can run laterally under the shingles."  This particular area of the roof was installed without that requisite underlayment that would help to protect the wooden structure from moisture (see Roofing, 2.8).

2.19.  Large skylights over LR and kitchen should have been protected with "V" cricket diverter on upper end to prevent collection of water, melting snow, and debris behind skylight. "The skylights that are 4’ wide require sheet metal crickets for proper water diversion curb. [Footnote:] CertainTeed Master Shingle Applicator's Manual — Chapter 12."  Wet debris and melting snow can create pools, enabling water to back up under shingles.  Wet debris can also rot and prematurely destroy the shingles.  Failure to follow shingle manufacturer's installation instructions voids the warranty.

2.20.  Skylight in the master bedroom was installed crookedly and does not meet the ceiling squarely.  The flaw is visible from the bedroom, and is located on the south-west corner of the skylight.  The 2x4 skylight was redesigned, purchased, and installed by TMC without consultation.  We do not know the manufacturer.  The noise of the rain on that skylight is much louder than on the other skylights, as though it were composed of only a single pane, or of a different kind of glass.  See What's Right Became Self-Evident.

2.21.  Flashing on Velux skylights may be damaged, in the opinion of one roofer who inspected the roof.  Flashing was nailed and might be damaged when removed.  "The flashing flanges have not been set in sealant and the penetrations are not as the manufacturer requires (CertainTeed Shingle Applicator's Manual, Chapter 6, Soil Stacks and Vent Pipes, page 61)."  Failure to follow shingle manufacturer's installation instructions voids the warranty.

2.22.  “We recommend obtaining all documentation including possible on workmanship and materials pertaining to the 3-Tab composition roof for your records.”

2.23.  “The ridge shingles appear to have the correct exposure, however they have been offset to cover more on one side of the ridge than the other, essentially 'cheating' the proper exposure on one side.  The ridge shingles are attached with the same 1" length nails as those in the main roof area.  At the ridge locations these nails are too short to be in compliance with the IBC and manufacturer's requirements.  The exposure is not in accordance with the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) requirements ..."

2.24.  “In addition, the exterior siding to roof transition has not been flashed correctly.  When the roof is replaced, these concerns should be resolved.”

2.25.  The sheathing installed on the roof was not tongue-and-groove.  As the workers walked on it, the edges of the sheathing became misaligned between the trusses, with sometimes the lower sheet slipping under its neighbor, and sometimes the upper.  After the shingles were complete, the problem was not noticeable from the outside.  But looking into the vault from the inside, the fault could be found in a number of places.  Once the insulation was installed, the fault became invisible to the eye.  However, as water runs down the 4-in-12 pitch roof, those faults might create pockets in the roof surface where the water runs backward under the shingles to the structure underneath.  This may have serious consequences for the longevity of the structure.


2.26.  When the skylight over the living room was first specified, DeCourseys required an electrically controlled sunshade to protect the furniture and carpets.  We had a number of conversations with TMC about this, but only after the ceiling was closed up with drywall did we discover the sun-shade had not been installed.


2.26.  "The fascia and the gutter that is attached to it in the southeast corner of the main roof is not properly attached for approximately three feet."

2.27.  The 20 ft. gutter runs along the back of the house are not sloped correctly.  They collect standing water and debris, and soon overflow during a rainy spell.  Redmond building code requires gutters to be sloped toward the downspout to enable the gutters to drain.  (Watertite Gutter Company)

2.28.  Gutters may need to be re-hung or replaced after roofing, fascia, and truss repair.




3.1.   During our first winter at The Cottage, we were cold.  Preliminary investigation suggests at least some of the windows were improperly installed.  The integrity of the thermal-break aluminum frames appeared to have been compromised by mishandling.  Representatives from Milgard (manufacturer of the windows) have informed us that thermal break aluminum frame windows do not provide sufficient thermal insulation to meet code for new construction or reconstruction of the scale our house has undergone.  We also have some indication that aluminum thermal-break windows do not provide sufficient insulation to meet code.

3.2.   The window in the dining room was newly made for this renovation.  It was designed with a small awning-style opening in the bottom for ventilation.  We have been told by a factory representative that the screen that was custom-manufactured for that custom-sized window cannot be installed because the frame opening is too small.

3.3.   When we saw the original window schedule Trustworthy had drawn up for the house prior to ordering, we corrected it with him on the master bath.  We would prefer clear glass with a cafe curtain for privacy rather than obscured glass.  Trustworthy assured us it would be no problem.  When the windows were installed, we discovered Trustworthy had ordered the window with obscured glass.  We asked Trustworthy to correct the mistake and again we were told it would be no problem, but the window is the same today.

3.4.   When the painters did the outside of the house, they used insufficient masking on the window screens, and many of the screen were painted.  The painters were chosen by TMC.



Responsibility for electrical defects cannot be stated with certainty.  Electricians from V&E Medical Imaging Services, Inc. (dba Automated Home Solutions) did the work, but we were told they would be paid as employees of TMC.  Nevertheless, VEMIS held the City permit for the work, and has filed suit for non-payment.  The Department of Labor and Industries has investigated and cited TMC for (...) installing electrical equipment.

Line Voltage

It is apparent from several features that the electricians (Automated Home Solutions) were not experienced in general utility (line voltage) wiring for homes.  One of the more obvious mistakes is the positioning of light switches.  When entering a room, a person expects the first switch to operate the general overhead lighting.  But in at least five rooms, this general rule is not followed, with the first switch operating a minor light, a fan, or nothing at all.

Other details include awkwardly positioned sockets and switches, lights without switches, and switches without function.

4.1.  The moisture-proof light for the downstairs shower was purchased and billed but not installed.  The bare wires now stick out of the wall within the shower stall.

4.2.   The metal bath drain in the Hall Bath is electrified measuring up to 110 volts AC relative to neutral ground.  From this source, a bathtub of water is electrified to the same voltage.  A bather would be grounded when touching the bath spigot, shower head, or valve body, completing the electrical circuit — that is, electrocuted.  Two DeCoursey family members have received electric shocks.  The bath and shower in the Hall Bath are not being used.

“The wiring and circuit breaker in the downstairs bedroom that is shorting out the upstairs metal tub needs to be removed for health and safety reasons.  Prior to removing this wire, the electrical contractor should verify what this circuit is powering as there is not power to the GFCI to the access panel to the downstairs Jacuzzi tub.” 

Cascade Electrical Contractors, who were called to investigate the problem, said it was a "life threatening condition" that could injure or kill anyone using the shower or tub.  "To follow up on our recent visit we would like to provide you with the information you requested in regard to your bathtub drain being energized.  Upon troubleshooting the problem we discovered that indeed the drain on your upstairs bathtub was energized and conducting between 72 and 110 volts.  We isolated the circuit and turned off the circuit breaker providing power.  It appeared that in doing so no other devices were affected anywhere else in the house." 

This circuit has been shut down to prevent danger of electrocution.  Previous owners raised their family in this house, and then rented it for 15 years.  No one has previously had trouble with water electrification.  This problem came about during the renovation.


4.3.   A lantern on the rear exterior of the house was not installed, but two feet of live electrical (Romex) cable was left hanging out of junction box.  This problem has since been partially corrected — a licensed electrician terminated wire and rolled it into junction box.  “The light fixture off the back of the house is missing leaving exposed wires that need to be housed in weatherproof cover or a light fixture.”

4.4.   Some wall switches and sockets have other problems:


4.4.1.   Fourth switch in 4-gang unit in rec. room was intended to control an exterior low voltage circuit for garden lights, but does not control anything.


4.4.2.   Top switch of stacked unit in hall bathroom does not control anything.


4.4.3.   The switch that controls the spot lamp for the picture over the fireplace is a bad unit — apparently never tested, it does not stabilize in the OFF position.


4.4.4.   A socket in the backsplash of the kitchen counter is so far back in the corner, it cannot be reached from a standing position.


4.5.   Photocell-controlled lights on the front of garage were wired without manual override to turn the lights off.  The only means for turning those lights off at night is to remove the bulbs.  As with many other details, the electricians required explicit instructions, then failed to follow them.


4.6.   The pole lantern in front yard was wired with photocell control but without a switch for manual override to turn the light off.


4.7.     Concerning the unfinished condition of switches and sockets, Evergreen wrote, “We recommend covering all outlets and switches throughout the house to meet electrical code requirements.”

4.7.1.    Light switches in rec. room left without cover plate.  Since our moving in, this problem has been corrected by Cascade Electrical Contractors licensed electricians.


4.7.2.    The two-gang switches and GFCI plug in the basement bathroom were fully powered up in a hazardous state: "Outlet and switches in downstairs bathroom were not reinstalled and were left hanging and without cover plates — reinstalled outlet and switches."  This presented an obvious electrical hazard, so we hired Cascade Electrical Contractors to correct the problem. 

4.9.    No socket was installed on north west exterior corner of house.  This socket was requested, and needed to power lawnmower.  The socket was eventually installed by Cascade Electrical Contractors.

4.10.  Kitchen under-counter lights:  One fixture does not work, and two have only one bulb each.  One is missing a glass shade, leaving the bare halogen bulb within an inch of the under-counter switch.

4.11.  Electrical connection for dual fuel gas range installed too high above flooring.  Should have been installed at floor level to permit range to slide back against wall.  Specs for range were present in home when electrical work was done.

4.12.  The switch for the exterior lights on the side of the garage must be moved.  It is currently located in a rear corner of the garage, far from the house entry and the driveway entrance.  The placement of the switch is most inconvenient, and makes it impossible to use that corner for storage.


4.13.  “The newly installed weaver clamp above the main water shutoff valve in the garage needs to be firmly attached to the water line to complete the grounding of the house as required by electrical code.  In addition, weaver clamps need to be installed on the hot water line and cold water lines to the gas line.”  Grounding for the line voltage electrical system was not permitted or inspected by the City of Redmond.

4.14.   “The grounding of the gas line could not be located at the time of inspection and we recommend having the electrical contractor verify this grounding as continuity testing revealed no grounding to the electrical panel.  NOTE:  Electrical code requires that the coldwater line, hot water line and gas line be grounded for the electrical panel for your safety.”

4.15.  “All loose cables in the attic need to be harnessed to the framing members to comply with electrical code.”

4.16.  “We recommend installing a blockout cover where there is an opening in the upper left corner of the electrical panel to meet electrical code requirements.”

4.17.  The electrical work included built-in smoke detectors and alarms.  This was never specified or discussed with us, and we have no information on the parameters of the system and no instructions for operating, testing, or maintaining it.  The system might be tested by trial and error, but we do not know whether the alarm includes an automated call to the fire station.


4.18.  “There is no GFCI ["GFI"] protection to the outlet on the kitchen partition between the dining room and kitchen.  We recommend retaining an electrical contractor to rectify this concern.”

4.19.   “When the GFCI outlet in the main upstairs bathroom is tripped, the master bathroom GFCI outlets trips as well.  As the primary GFCI to all three bathrooms is located in the master bathroom, we recommend removing the GFCI from the main bathroom to maintain correct function of these GFCIs.”

4.20.  The design included an electric-powered opening skylight for the living room with an electric sun-shade (the ceiling is about 13 feet high at that point).  The Velux unit arrived with a wall-mounted switch unit and a wireless remote for controlling the motors.  The skylight was mounted correctly and powered up, but the wall-mounted control unit was not installed.  TMC insists the control wires are in the wall, ready to be attached to the control unit, but the wires for the unit are still in the packing box.  Currently the skylight may be controlled only with the wireless remote.

4.21.     An inspection by a team of electricians in October, 2007 revealed exposed and energized bare-metal wires around the junction box under the jet tub on the lower floor.  That written report is pending.


Low Voltage

4.22.  The speaker wires for distributed music were sealed in ceilings and walls behind the drywall.  The wires cannot be located without specialized equipment, and AHS refuses to provide a written map of the wiring.  We have learned that contractors who do this work standardly provide a "mud ring" at the wire termination for subsequent speaker installation.

4.23.  The speaker wires for distributed music are not labeled and are not tied to a cross connect ("patch panel") for connecting the music sources with the speakers.  Since no written map designating the purpose of each of the wall jacks has been provided, more work will be required to identify the many wires from all parts of the house, identify each of the jacks, identify each of the speaker cables, and link them together to convey the signal from music sources to speakers.


4.24.  Telephone and data access was not provided in the section of rec. room designed for the office and information technology center.  Instead, the telephone and data plugs were installed across the room under the location for the surround sound screen.


4.25.  The warranty on low voltage work and equipment depends on monthly testing according to written instructions, as specified in the service contract: "Customer understands that a system does not test itself and should be tested monthly in accordance with AUTOMATED HOME SOLUTIONS Instructions.  Customer shall be responsible for the performance of this test.  Problems must be reported to AUTOMATED HOME SOLUTIONS."  However, Automated Home Solutions has not supplied the written Instructions, so testing cannot be done and the warranty is legally void.

4.26.  No front doorbell wiring was installed when the walls were open.


4.27.     The fourth bedroom (basement), though listed in the statement of work for environmental music, contains no volume control or evidence of speaker installation.


4.28.     An inspection by a team of electricians in October, 2007 revealed that the grounding stakes for the main panel are too close together, and not six feet apart as required by electrical code.  That written report is pending.


4.29.     The telephone connections in the basement are full of static and unusable.



On July 18, 2006, the Department of Labor and Industries published an investigation report of the plumbing work done during our renovation.  That report concludes that TMC violated State law by performing that work without a certified plumber.
Peter Oakes was the foreman on our job for some months and then promoted to TMC general supervisor.  We have learned that Oakes was cited by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries on October 8, 2002 for doing plumbing work without a plumber's certificate (L&I Notice of Infraction P4231).  As of December 29, 2005, Oakes had not paid the $250 fine, and the debt has been given to a collections agency.
Peter Oakes was cited again on July 18, 2006 for performing plumbing on our renovation.  TMC was also cited for employing Oakes to do that work.

5.1.   During renovation work, the main water supply entry through the foundation was found to be leaking surface water into the garage.  The foreman “fixed” this by spraying window weatherproof foam into the area around the pipe entry.  A few weeks after we moved in, this area was found to be leaking again.  A professional plumber fixed the problem with hydraulic concrete, the standard solution for this problem.


This issue fits neatly into the description of the range estimate given by Paul Stickney on June 8, 2004: “While a job is underway, a logical, what’s right approach occurs where certain potential things that could be done to a house become self-evident and this upper limit recognizes this truth.”

5.2.   A leak in the Master Bath sink drain was evident upon moving in.  Also within a week of moving in, a leak developed in the Master Bath shower.  A licensed plumber was called in to fix the problems.

5.3.   The flush mechanism inside the tanks of all three toilets was not installed and adjusted properly, resulting in flush malfunctions and continuous filling.  A licensed plumber was hired to fix these items.

5.4.   Hall Bath:  Spigot, valve trim, and tub drain trim were not installed.  After a licensed plumber from D. Young Plumbing fixed the problem, it was discovered that the bath drain was electrified at 110 VAC, presenting a hazardous, life-threatening situation for anyone using the bath or shower.  (See Electrical 4.2, above)

5.5.   Downstairs Bath:  Valve tree is not centered over tub — it is about an inch to the left of center of tub.  The valve tree will have to be reinstalled, necessitating the demolition of much of the tiled wall.  “The diverter to the downstairs bathroom was roughed in at the time of inspection.  We recommend aligning this diverter to the center of the overflow to maintain a more pleasing appearance.” The overflow trim was installed about a ½ inch off-center to the right.

5.6.   While inspecting the plumbing in the Downstairs Bath, D. Young Plumbing found that the shower plumbing leaks inside the wall when the shower is used. This shower/tub is not currently in use, so repairs are postponed.


5.7.   Downstairs Bath:  The bath and shower trim (valves and spigots not installed in the downstairs bathtub.

5.8.   The hardware inside the toilet tank in the Downstairs Bath was not installed properly — the flush lever requires too much force.  This flaw has since been corrected by a licensed plumber from D. Young Plumbing.

5.9.   The toilet in the Downstairs Bath is unstably mounted.  “The toilet in the downstairs bathroom rocks left to right.  We recommend pulling the toilet up, assessing the condition of the flooring, installing a new wax ring, and then bolting the toilet firmly to the floor.”

5.10. Pop-up sink stoppers have collapsed in two sinks (Hall Bath and Downstairs Bath) plugging the drain.


5.11. Laundry dryer hose, which should be enclosed in the sealed plumbing wall between the laundry and adjacent Downstairs Bath, is flexible rather than rigid pipe. “The metal flex 4-inch ductwork between the downstairs bathroom wall and laundry room that services the clothes dryer is required by mechanical code to be rigid material.  We recommend installing the required ductwork.”  During a modification of the shower plumbing by TMC plumber, the flexible dryer exhaust duct was torn.  The bathroom and interior of wall fill with warm humid air when dryer is used.

5.12. Plumbing wall is now open because bath/shower valve was installed incorrectly.  The bath/shower valve body was positioned too close to the tub spigot to permit the installation of the valve trim escutcheon.  This was corrected by TMC during the final days at the site.  It required shortening the three upper pipes and splicing an added length into the lower pipe

5.13. Laundry dryer exhaust and downstairs bathroom vent share the same exit pipe to outside of house.  Each should have its own exit pipe to prevent moisture from passing between these adjacent rooms when either venting system is used.


5.14.  Sink not installed in laundry room.


5.15. Kitchen sink, garbage disposal, and dishwasher sewer vent pipe terminates in the attic. Methane gas from these now circulates in attic.  “The 2-inch waste vent pipe in the northeast corner of the attic that travels from the kitchen does not terminate through the roof or to the existing 4-inch waste vent pipe as required by plumbing code.  We recommend completing the installation of this pipe to prevent methane gas from entering the attic.”

5.16. Moisture ants in Downstairs Bath/Laundry suggest water leak in shared plumbing wall.  Three pest control companies have recommended key section of shared wall should be removed, the leak found and fixed, and the damaged wood replaced.  Ants cannot be eradicated unless water-damaged wood is removed.

5.17. Despite the fact the toilets in the un-renovated house were in working order, TMC recommended we purchase and install new toilets “for hygiene reasons.”  We now discover these new toilets don’t flush as well as the older models, sometimes requiring multiple flushes to achieve the desired result.  Moreover, the plastic pipes used in the fittings of these new toilets broadcast the noises made when urinating or defecating, and continue to trickle after flush is completed.  We wonder if this is the first time TMC did a substantial renovation.

5.18.  By August, the hose faucet at rear of house, replaced by TMC during the renovation, failed completely in August. The valve handle would not shut off the water and had to be stoppered with a hose and a shutoff nozzle.  D. Young Plumbing has since been hired to fix this problem.


5.19.  This faucet (5.18) enters the house at the location of the plumbing wall. The fixture was not stable in the siding, and neither the carpenters nor the painters caulked the open space around the pipe. This was possibly the entry point for the moisture ants.

5.20.  “The ¾-inch outflow pipe off the hot water tank is currently traveling up and out and is required by plumbing code to travel downward and then to the outside.  We recommend retaining a plumbing contractor to rectify this concern.”

5.21. “The expansion tank on the newly installed hot water tank is missing and needs to be installed to comply with plumbing code.”

5.22. The earthquake straps were installed across access panels of hot water heater, and must be removed for maintenance or adjustment.


5.23. No hose faucet were installed at the exterior North or South East corners of house, as were specified for watering that end of the extensive garden.  Frost-free pipes to those outside corners of house could have been installed inexpensively when the walls were open.  To install frost-free hydrants after the house was closed up, the DeCourseys were required to rent a trencher for burying the pipes and have a licensed plumber install the pipes and hose hydrants.

5.24. "Two bathroom exhaust fan ducts are not vented to the exterior of the residence. The warm, moist air from the bathrooms will blow into the attic space creating the potential for serious condensation that can rot wood structural members and cause mold.  This condition is in violation of ARMA (ARMA — Residential Asphalt Roofing Manual ..."  “The bathroom exhaust fans are diverting moist air through the upper ridge rafter vent and code requires that this air be directed to the outside via rafter vents.  When the roof is replaced, we recommend installing separate rafter vents above these bathrooms to maintain a positive flow of moist air to the outside of the house and to comply with mechanical code.”

5.25. When the Hall Bath tub was plumbed, the hot and cold water supplies to the unibody valve were reversed.  As a result, setting the valve for hot water results in a cold bath and vice versa because the indications on the escutcheon disagree with the actual operation of the valve.  Repair of this problem may require dismantling the tile bath surround to reach the pipes.

5.26. The new fiberglass jetted bathtub was chipped in at least two places after installation and during subsequent TMC work.

5.27. There is no air gap for dishwasher outflow.  This endangers the kitchen hardwood flooring and cabinets with possible flooding. “Air gap vent to the dishwasher and needs to be installed at the back of the sink or through the exterior wall as required by plumbing code.”  The hole in the enamel sink that is normally used for the dishwasher overflow was used by the TMC electricians for an air-linked switch for the garbage disposal; that switch will have to be relocated.

5.28. The hall bathroom tub drains very slowly, such that until less than 2 inches of water are left in the tub, a vortex does not form over the drain.  Though the drain pipe for the tub was not completely replaced, the renovation process produced mountains of drywall dust and other debris.  Despite repeated warnings and entreaties, the TMC workers and supervisors were utterly careless of protecting the open drains from contamination.


5.29. The shower fixtures in the Master Bath were plumbed and mounted in the physical center of the shower wall, but they are visually off-center in the effective shower wall after the installation of the shower doors.  This kind of error makes one question whether TMC had ever done this kind of renovation before.


5.30. In March, 2006, the waste from the kitchen sink began appearing in the downstairs jet tub, which is directly below the kitchen.  This suggests the plumbing tree was improperly designed or constructed, or possibly that debris entered the pipes during construction, causing blockage.


5.31. In October, 2007, we learned that a slow leak in the hall bathroom sink drain has damaged the vanity, rotting the interior of the sink cabinet.




6.1.   During work in the attic, some of the old loose insulation was moved aside, leaving heaps in some places and areas of bare ceiling in others. “Some of the loose insulation has been removed from the attic and needs to be reinstalled, as building code requires a minimum R-19 be maintained.”  TMC promised to add insulation to the attic to meet code before closing up.  Apparently, the condition of this attic escaped the Redmond inspector's attention.

6.2.   “There is no insulation on the east wall of the lower attic that faces the kitchen and front entry.  Energy code requires that at least R019 to R-22 insulation be installed at this location.”

6.3.   “The skylight over the master bedroom needs to be wrapped with R-19 to R-22 insulation to comply with energy code requirements.”

6.4.   The vents from the master and hall bathrooms are not insulated, endangering the fan motors from condensation that will form in those pipes when warm air passes through the cold attic.  This condensation could corrode the bathroom fans prematurely. “The 4-inch ductwork in the attic is required by energy code to be insulated.  We recommend removing the flex metal material and installing insulated 4-inch material.”

6.5.   Solar tube lining in Hall bathroom appears to be loose in exterior dome.  Debris is evident on Plexiglas screen and visible from bathroom; Plexiglas screen is improperly sealed, and dust and debris from attic showers down and pollutes the air in Hall bath.  Debris falling onto floor, vanity, and bathtub must be vacuumed up several times a week.  Solar tube is not sealed in attic and not insulated. “The solar tube in the attic needs to be insulated with R-19 to R-22 insulation to comply with energy code.”

6.6.   The kitchen and the two bathrooms on the main level share a plumbing wall.  During the renovations, this wall was open.  Soundproofing insulation should have been installed in this wall.  The installation could be done for the price of the material and the short time it would take for a workman to install it between the studs.  What is the result of not having this insulation?  Bathroom noises, from taking a shower to urination, etc., can now be clearly heard in rooms adjacent to bathrooms.  A competent renovation firm might have suggested such insulation,  but TMC did not.  The lack of insulation is unacceptable.  We wonder if our job was TMC’s first large renovation.


6.7.   In like manner, the wall between the master bath and the master bedroom was also open, and insulation should have been installed.  Given that even though TMC did not install the master bath door, we anticipate that toilet usage sounds will be heard in the master bedroom, even after the door is installed.  This lack of insulation is unacceptable.


6.7.   The front door is so poorly sealed that daylight shows between the door and the jam when the door is closed and locked.


6.8.   The exterior walls for the first-floor garage originally consisted of bare 2x4 framing to support the exterior siding and the upper story.  One part of the renovation included finishing a section in the back of this overly large space, adding a large bedroom and a third bath, and still leaving space in the garage for a two cars.  Two walls of the bedroom and one wall of the bath are formed from the exterior wall of the house.  A third wall of the bedroom adjoins the unheated garage.  Those walls are cold to the touch, even in mild winter weather, and no trace of insulation can be found inside the wall around the new electrical panel or any of the electric junction boxes.  Apparently, those walls were not insulated as they should have been according to code.  Our observations on this are not conclusive.


6.9.   When the construction was planned and in progress, we asked TMC to insulate the concrete slab floor of the rec. room and lower floor before installing the carpet.  Repeatedly, TMC told us that it (a) could not be done and (b) was unnecessary.  But since then have learned of a number of economical products on the market for exactly that purpose.  We have also found that the insulating the slab is critical to our comfort in the office — the floor is cold and uncomfortable. 




7.1.   Trusses supporting roof were not set evenly.  Both planes of the new roof and the ridge exhibit a “swayback” profile, with visible concave troughs running from the peak to the eave at both gable ends.  The flaw became visible after the shingles were installed.  We asked TMC foreman Peter Oakes about this, and Oakes explained that he had made assumptions about the roof supports that turned out not to be correct.  At that time, the ceiling was open, and Mark climbed up with a large level and found the trusses were misaligned on installation.  We suggested fixes for the roof appearance, but Paul said that the roof could not be modified, now that the shingle work was complete.  "The flat 2x4 eave out lookers drop down noticeably toward the interior of the building at both gable end walls." (ABKJ)

We could not afford to have TMC de-install the roof and set the trusses correctly, but this should be done.  At each end, the roof surface sags a few feet from the gable, then rises at the gable, forming a shallow trough.  Roofing Technical Services and Evergreen Building Inspection Services believe the misalignment of the fascia boards with the roof plane also contributes to the swaybacked appearance of the roof.

7.2.   A 25 ft. section of the back of the house behind the kitchen and dining room was extended 4½ feet using a cantilever construction.  The full weight of one end of the scissor trusses (supporting the roof and cathedral ceiling) is resting on the outer end of this cantilever.  Since construction in the fall of 2004, this cantilever has moved, first noticed four months later when the new floor was found to be sagging ½ to 1 inch below the old floor, and had to be shimmed for the installation of the hardwood flooring in that area.

Later, we realized this movement may be connected with the sag ("sway-back") in the roof — the supporting wall for the roof trusses depends on the stability of the cantilever — and the hump that spontaneously appeared in the kitchen counter at the end of the dishwasher, which is positioned over the division between the old and new sections of floor.  The history and importance of the cantilever to the integrity of the whole house is a cause for concern.  The apparent permanence of this structure on a pleasant day in May is no measure of its survivability during the excitement of an earthquake.

Recently, we have also noticed that the dishwasher door does not close squarely in the opening, but binds on the edge prior to closing.  The dishwasher door used to fit squarely when we moved in May 2005, but this misalignment indicates that the dishwasher case has been deformed, possibly by a change in position of the surrounding structures (floor, wall, and cabinets).

From our bed in the rear of the house, we often hear a strange sound from cantilever area.  Because the master bath has no door, we are in line-of-sight with the plumbing wall, which is also the sheer wall for the cantilever.  Irregularly, at intervals of 20 or 30 seconds, seeming to originate from the bottom edge of the shower door, we hear a "crack" like the sound heard in an old house settling on its timbers, a sound that is sometimes described as creaking.  This sound has been going on for months.  Apparently something in the structure is moving and we are concerned the cantilever has not yet reached a point of stability.  Update: This sound has been much reduced since the installation of temporary concrete supports under the extension in the summer of 2006.  Occasional cracks are still heard from the area, particularly when a person approaches the shower.  Thus the engineer's reference: "The end of the cantilever has four posts supported by pier blocks and masonry shoring the exterior wall above." (ABKJ)

We have also heard a large CRACK originating at the mid-section of the house where the cantilever beam terminates.

In the last couple of months, other causes for concern about that cantilever have arisen.  The drywall joint tape along the exterior sheer wall is buckling and showing through the plaster by the peak in the cathedral ceiling.  This may indicate that the various wall members are shifting in relation to each other and that the cantilever is moving, putting stress on the rest of the structure.

The hardwood flooring runs parallel to that joint between the old and the new sections floor where the cantilever joins the house.  Right over that joint, the flooring cracks are opening up with a 1/16 gap between the boards at that point for the entire length of the joint.


Of course, the plans for the cantilever were approved by an architect and the city planning department.  But the work was not approved by a city inspector while the structural members were visible.  In particular, until August 23, 2005, we had no signed approval for the floor framing (00420) and exterior sheer wall (00425), structures that are vital to the integrity of the cantilever.  It is good that the plans for the structure were approved on paper.  But the house is supported by the quality of the carpentry in the physical structure, and that is currently an unknown quantity because the carpentry was not inspected by the city inspectors before the walls and floors were closed up.

7.3.   The kitchen breakfast nook was designed to be adjacent to the kitchen window.   The windowsill was to be at the same height as the adjacent kitchen counters, and wall reveals were left on either side of the window.  Curtains were designed to be hung in the windows, and when open, the curtains were to be drawn back over those reveals, with the bottoms skimming the top of the counters.  Given the proper height of windowsill and counters, when closed, the bottom of the curtains would skim the windowsill. 

Certainly TMC knew of the design: Bob Trustworthy repeatedly said he thought curtains were foolish, and “curtains” became the butt of jokes.  Foreman Peter Oakes assured us repeatedly that he would make the counters the same height as the widow sill.  Instead, the window was installed 2 inches lower than the counters, ruining the design.  By the time we could see the error, it was not economical to correct it.


7.4.       The deck (specified on the design, estimate, and permit) was not built.

Current back entry stairs are not acceptable for code. “There is no deck or landing off the dining room sliding door as required by building code.  The landing should be at least 3x3 feet in size and have guardrails and stairs with risers that are consistent in height and no greater than 8 inches high.  Another option is to install a full deck and stairs off the back of the house as originally planned.”

7.5.       Chimney was not raised when roof was raised.  Chimney is below roof peak, not tall enough for code.  "Additionally the height of the chimney is not in accordance with the IBC [International Building Code] ... This section states that the chimney must extend above the roof a minimum of three feet above the highest point where the chimney passes through the roof, and extend two feet higher than any portion of the building within ten feet."  “The fireplace chimney is required by building code to be at least 2 feet above the ridge of the roof.  We recommend retaining a masonry contractor to extend this chimney for safety reasons and to comply with code.”  When a chimney is too close to and below the roof peak, it does not draw properly and can blow the smoke back into the house.

7.6.       When we were looking over this house prior to any renovation, we noticed the floors of two bedrooms over the garage sagged toward the middle of the garage.  This was attributed to a sagging beam that runs across the entry of the garage.  In examining pictures of the house as it stood before we bought it, we can now see that the windows for those bedrooms also canted down toward each other, following that contour of the floor.

When TMC came in, we told them that this beam was one of the things that needed fixing.  Bob Trustworthy commented that the sag was probably due to an error by the original framers - they put the "crown" of the beam upside down.  Trustworthy said TMC would take care of it.


We expected TMC to provide some replacement for the sagging beam — possibly a second timber or a steel beam.  But Peter Oakes told me that squaring the structure completely would cause big problems in the rooms above because the house above the beam appeared to be built with a partial compensation for the sag in the floor.  He told me that jacking up the beam would tear up all the plaster and maybe require serious work in the wall between the two bedrooms.  Since that wall contains embedded closets, the work would not be trivial.

To handle the problem, Peter Oakes used the plywood sheathing on the outside of the house to create a sheer wall.  By nailing/screwing that sheathing to the outside frame of the house and to the beam, they shifted some of the support for the flooring to the exterior wall.


An engineer has since determined the beam is badly overloaded, explaining in his cover letter: "Please find attached the evaluation analysis for the existing 6X12 beam over the garage supporting the second floor and roof. I used the actual beam dimensions and professional judgment with respect to the loading that this beam is trying to resist.  The beam is overstressed significantly up to 227% of its allowable stress.  The calculated deflection under total load is 3.4 inches at midspan which is about what the contractor estimated.  The code would limit this deflection to 1.0 inch maximum." (ABKJ)

We observe that the situation is worse than when the renovation was done.  The garage ceiling bows down visibly, and the upstairs hall (above the other end of the affected joists) exhibits a crown that was not there when the hardwood was installed.

7.7.    The dining room window screen provided by the manufacturer cannot be installed on the window.  According to Milgard, this was a result of incorrect window frame installation.


7.8.    During installation of the basement bathroom, TMC breached the concrete slab of the foundation to install the toilet and bath drains.  Those holes, roughly 12 to 15 inches in diameter, were not sealed after the work.  During a rise in the water table following a nearby watermain break in September 2006, water entered the house through those breaches and ruined all the carpet in the basement, the under-tile heater, books, furniture, wood materials to finish the house, and other chattel.  There is mold on some of the drywall, indicating possible damage to the walls.


7.9.    The International Residential Code (R602.10.1) requires "braced wall lines" every 35 feet in each direction to stabilize the structure against wind and earthquake stresses.  This normally requires all exterior walls to be paneled with plywood with a regulated nailing pattern.  If the exterior walls are further apart than 35 feet, intervening interior walls must be braced as well.  This hous is about 42 ft. long.  During construction, the roof was raised about two feet and the rear wall of half the house extended backward about 4.5 feet, creating additional stability concerns for the dwelling.  A qualified housing inspector has removed the some of the siding from the east wall of the house and found that sheer wall paneling was not applied to the extended end wall, nor to the rebuilt interior wall that should have been paneled.  These omissions are code violations.

7.10.    "Roof trusses are not spaced at the 24 inch on center uniform spacing shown on the drawings.  One area has a truss with 30 inches to the adjacent truss on one side and 24 inches 20 the adjacent truss on the other side. This over spacing creates a 12.5% higher load on two roof trusses.  Shop drawings for these manufactured trusses could not be located.  These trusses should be evaluated by the truss manufacturer for structural adequacy." (ABKJ)

7.11.    "Hangers installed to support the blocking and interior ends of the cantilevered joists were not installed upside down to resist the uplift load present on the joists." (ABKJ)

7.12.  When patches of siding on the front and rear of the house was removed, a retired building inspector though those walls were paneled, the nailing pattern does not meet code for sheer walls.


7.13.    "The section of exposed wall plywood sheathing does not have panel edge joints nailed.  Review of photographs revealed that the wall framing was not furnished with solid blocking at plywood panel edges as required by the 2003 IBC at the completion of insulation." (ABKJ)

7.15.    "The east wall of the house (fireplace wall side) has two horizontal knuckle joints, one at the top of existing wall framing and the other at the top of wall extension between the bearing elevatian of the scissor roof trusses and the upward sloping bottom chord of the end wall truss." (ABKJ)

7.16.    "The blocking at the top of wall at the over spaced truss does not have vent holes." (ABKJ)

7.17.    "The three interior posts are supported rigidly to the underside of roof trusses without any allowance for vertical motion of the truss." (ABKJ) According to the engineer, this may result in fracture of the trusses under snow load, with a possible disasterous collapse of the roof.

7.18.    "The cantilevered floor joists are cut into the wood plate at the foundation wall.  Many of these joists have been supported by shims at the bearing surface." (ABKJ) This lack of proper seating on the joists has contributed to the sag of the extension.

7.19.    "The observed spacing of the 4x10 cantilevered joists is up to as high as 24 inches on center, which is more than the 16 inches on center shown on the City of Redmond approved plans." (ABKJ)

7.20.    "Hangers installed to support the blocking and interior ends of the cantilevered joists were not installed upside down to resist the uplift load present on the joists." (ABKJ)

7.21.    "The posts at the sides of the sliding door and window are not supported on properly designed floor framing." (ABKJ)


8.1.   TMC framed and built the entire downstairs bathroom without the requisite building, plumbing, and electrical permits and inspections.  (See Permits 1.4.)  To evaluate the quality of the work, one must understand that the TMC carpenters erected all four walls, including the 2x4 framing against the half-height foundation wall at the rear of the house.  The walls are bowed, the plumbing inside the wall is faulty, and the tile work is unacceptable.  To correct all of these problems, a substantial portion of the bathroom and walls need to be demolished and rebuilt.

Much of the work, including tile work, will have to be demolished and redone for a variety of reasons.  “The grout has not been applied to the tile tub enclosure in the downstairs bathroom and there are alignment concerns and poor workmanship.  We recommend retaining a reputable tile contractor to evaluate the existing work and complete the installation or remove the existing tile and realign the window to provide a more pleasing appearance and to meet acceptable standards of construction.”  The following subsections outline the many problems with the tiled walls in this room

Knowing that the window would be finished with glass blocks, the TMC tiler participated in designing the window and planning its position in the wall.  After installing the glass blocks in the window, the tiler began the tile work on the walls by aligning his tiles against the tub edge, leaving no room for a caulk line.  Since the tub installed by TMC is not quite level, this created a problem for the rest of the wall.  Moreover, without planning for the drainage and aesthetics of the window, the result was only what circumstance dictated, not what a competent tiler would create.  Because tiles are of fixed size, professional tilers say that prior planning is always an essential aspect of the work.

8.1.1    Windowsill near shower and over tub was installed incorrectly.  Sill should have been tiled with a slope into the room and a bullnose on the sill capping the wall tiles.  Instead, the wall tiles were built up beyond the windowsill for a horizontal joint with the sill tiles, and then cut off in a ragged line directly at eye-height.  The work looks miserably unfinished, but the tiler left the job and removed his electric tile saw from the site without completing even this work.  Current configuration would result in shower water draining into the walls.

8.1.2    The first course of tiles over the bath was not leveled by instrument — it was apparently leveled only by contact with the tub.  The result was a disaster as further courses were added up the walls at head and foot of the tub.  Those courses were about 5 degrees out of level, resulting in a gradually widening gap between the tiles and the corner, reaching about ⅜ inch at the top of the tiling on both ends of the tub.  The tiler attempted to compensate for this variance in the lower few courses as the wall developed by shifting the tiles horizontally toward the corner with each row.  But eventually, he gave up and followed a continuous joint line that angles away from the corner. 


8.1.3    Carol had purchased some decorator tiles to accent the tiles around the glass-block window, and she designed the placement of those accents.  She recorded her design on a full-sized template to inform the tiler.  In the photographs below, notice the misplacement of the vertical line of accent tiles.

Tiler declined to use the decorator tiles as Carol had designed them for the downstairs bath, and refused to follow a template Carol had designed.  Tiler indicated that despite Carol's careful planning, it simply could not be done.  The tiler’s reason for refusal was apparent -- he had begun the job at the bathtub line a few days earlier without planning out the whole job, and now the "first tile" rule was dictating the rest of the wall.  In second photo, notice the unequal tile cuts between left side of window (⅝ inch) and right side of window (2½ inches).  Size and placement of window was at tiler's discretion.

8.1.4       Tiler laid the first course of tiles directly in contact with a fiberglass tub, leaving no room for the flexible caulking joint required by flexible fiberglass fixtures.


8.1.5       The TMC plumber chipped a shower surround tile when installing the shower plumbing trim.  Other tiles were apparently cracked on installation.

8.1.6       Treatment for the moisture ant infestation will require removal of the drywall and cement tile backing board from east wall of the bathroom and of course, the tile surface.

8.1.7    Centering the off-center shower plumbing tree will require removal of the tile surface and cement backing board.

8.1.8    Repairs to the plumbing by TMC after the initial installation required removal of a section of tiles and cement backing board from the surround.  See Plumbing and Venting, 5.12

8.1.9       While inspecting the plumbing, D. Young Plumbing found that the shower plumbing tree leaks inside the wall when the shower is used. Fixing this leak may necessitate removal of some of the tile and cement backing board.

8.1.10  The rows of glass blocks composing the window are not level.  The right side of the first course is ½ inch higher than the left side.  This misalignment is apparent to the eye from the doorway to the bathroom.  Where the tiler did use spacers for extra support on the bottom block during placement, he left them obtruding into the space intended for windowsill tiles.

8.1.11  Tile work and grouting on the basement bath vanity is flawed, messy, and incomplete.  The tiler did not leave room for flexible caulk between backsplash and vanity top, sealing the joint instead with rigid grout.  Grout has already cracked and fallen out of the joint from floor and wall movement.

8.1.12  Tiles are cut raggedly around the door trim.

8.2.   Hall bath vanity tiles were set too tightly together, allowing insufficient room for grout, and tiles on edge unevenly placed.  Grout is now falling out.

8.3.   The backsplash for the hall vanity is not complete, though the tiler left the job and removed his electric tile saw from the site.  Bullnose tiles are missing on both ends, presenting the sharp unglazed tile edges to view.

8.4.   In the Master Bath shower, tiles were grouted directly to the flexible fiberglass shower pan with no room for the flexible caulking line, contrary to recommendations by professional tilers and do-it-yourself tiling books.  Predictably, the rigid grout is already cracking and falling out of the joint.  The tile surround for the hall bathtub was also grouted directly to the cast iron tub with no room for a flexible caulk line.  A breach in this grout could have more serious consequences because the cast iron tub does not include a water-proof flange behind the tile.

8.5.   Wall tiles near the doorway may have to be de-installed and redone, as it appears not enough space was left between wall tiles and the frame of the bathroom door.  Door trim should have been installed before tile to permit correct abutment of these to finishes.  (Contractor left without installing bathroom door frame, door, and trim.)

8.6.   No tile work done in kitchen counters or backsplash.  After debacle in downstairs bathroom, the contractor’s tile specialist was not permitted to work in kitchen.  TMC replacement tiler began installation of tile counters over vapor barrier paint instead of the industry standard cement board.  Cement board is used under tile counters to provide rigid support and prevent grout damage and cracking, as well as protecting the lower structures from moisture.  We instructed TMC not to do any more tile work.

8.7.   TMC tiler did not order a sufficient number of tiles for windowsills.  Tiles had to be reordered; one tile is still not installed in basement bedroom windowsill.

8.8.   The soap dish and shower valve in the Master Bath shower was mounted in the center of the physical shower wall.  But later installation of the shower enclosure and doors reduced the visual space of the shower, and the fixtures are now visually off-center.  This kind of error makes one question whether TMC had ever done this kind of renovation before.


8.9.   Repair of a significant error in the plumbing for the Hall Bath tub may require dismantling the tile bath surround and cement tile backing to reach the pipes.  See Plumbing and Venting, 5.25

8.10. The rec. room fireplace firebox was not faced with tile as designed to hide the chimney cinder-blocks.


8.11. The floors in the two upstairs bathrooms are tiled.  We have strong reason to believe that cement board was not used over the subfloor prior to laying the tile, nor does the thickness of the surface suggest cement board was used.  Cement board substrate is important to protect the grout from flexing of the plywood sub-floor under the weight of human bodies, and to protect the sub-floor from any moisture that seeps through the grout joints.




9.1.   Formica-topped kitchen counter will have to be de-installed and replaced.  Counter developed an inexplicable “hump” over the dishwasher and spice drawers.  Moreover, the edging is uneven, damaged by router, and badly cut.  Tile counters have not been installed, due to lack of professional known-how as evidenced by tile work in downstairs bathroom.

9.2.   According to Canyon Creek Cabinet Company, two upper cabinets over the pass-thru from the kitchen to the dining room were installed upside down, exposing the second-grade finish surfaces to view and to steam from the stove.  This came to light when we noticed the vinyl was pealing from the cabinet surface — and we had ordered veneer cabinets.  Canyon Creek representatives explained that the vinyl surface was applied for the hidden surfaces, and was not intended for exposure to view or to steam.

9.3.   According to Canyon Creek Cabinet Company, the lower cabinets on either side of the range were twisted during installation.  Drawers will now not sit squarely in the cabinet, and there are uneven gaps between drawers.  Cabinets need to be re-installed.


9.4.   According to the Canyon Creek representative, the drawer seats in the breakfast nook were not installed correctly for drawer alignment.  The drawer and door on the cabinet immediately adjacent to the nook bench (on west side of kitchen) were misaligned during installation; there was no manufacturing flaw.


9.5.   A number of cabinets were damaged on installation with screws driven through the finished surface.  The full extent of installation damage is not known at this time.


9.6.   Kitchen counter tiles not installed. See 8.7.

9.7.   CD cabinets designed for space under dining room counter and wall inset were not built.


9.8.   The tile tops on the hall and basement bathroom vanities will have to be replaced as a result of the unprofessional tile work.

9.9.   None of the kitchen cabinets, kitchen drawers, or bathroom vanities have handles or knobs for opening.




10.1.  “There appears to be a gas leak coming from the newly installed kitchen gas range.  We recommend retaining a mechanical contractor or an appliance contractor to evaluate this concern and conduct the necessary repairs.”  We called in Frederick’s Appliance Center technician and the Appliance Service Station.  The following defects were identified and fixed with the range installation. 

10.1.1  The flexible gas pipe between stove and wall was kinked near the wall fitting on installation, apparently caused by forceful positioning the range and crushing pipe between range and cast outlet.  The pipe fitting was possibly damaged as a result, contributing to gas leak.

10.1.2  The TMC installers did not use thread sealant (“pipe dope”) on the flexible gas pipe supplying the stove.  According to the repair men, standard practice requires thread sealant in all applications of this type.  The resulting gas leak could have caused fire, explosion, or poisoning to residents.

10.1.3  According to the installer sent from the appliance dealer to correct the gas leak, the flexible pipe from wall to range was too small in diameter to supply the stove.  This resulted in improper functioning of the automatic gas burner igniter.



“Some of the drywall in the lower level has not been installed in a workmanlike manner.  We recommend retaining a drywall contractor to evaluate all walls and verify the cost to repair all defective taping and joint compound applications.”

11.1.  Seams between drywall sheets over living room fireplace mantle show through the paint when the sconces are burning, and must be repaired or replaced for esthetics.  Drywall seams and uneven mudding are visible also on walls in other parts of the house:  in stairs from foyer to lower level, over the main entry, in hall bath, and in the ceiling of downstairs bath.  Raised drywall bumps are also visible in dining room/living room wall, east side.

11.2.  Openings in the drywall for heating and return air vents were cut too large for coverage by venting trim.  This results in unsightly gaps between the drywall and the venting trim.

11.3.  Many of the drywall openings for electrical sockets, light sockets, recessed lighting cans, and switches were cut too large for standard trim plates.  Oversize switch plates were able to hide some of the flaws. In others, drywall mud was used to patch the gaps, resulting in a lumpy finish around many plates.

11.4.  Drywall in skylight in master bedroom does not meet the skylight frame properly.  Though the skylight may be crooked, the flaw is made more visible by a failure to complete the skylight well with drywall.

11.5.  New walls are not flat and straight, and the base trim was not forced to conform to the irregularities.  The result is gapping between the baseboard and the wall.

11.6.  Some walls display obvious flaws with bulges, craters, and other imperfections.  In one photo, we are looking at a 4-foot level held against the rec. room ceiling with a broom handle.  The area was intended as a closet but the doors were never installed.  The space between the straight-edge of the level and the drywall shows the irregularity.

11.7.  The hall bathroom wall shows a scar from a circular saw blade “walked” across the surface from mishandling of the tool.


12.1.   TMC recommended we use vertical grain fir doors and trim that was being demolished from another TMC job, the “Felker job.”  We saw samples of the “Felker trim” at the Felker’s home; however, the samples we were shown did not reveal the many imperfections in that trim (nail holes, splintered wood, scrapes, etc.).  Perhaps the trim sustained the damage while being de-installed, transported, re-installed in our house.  Since the contractor dismantled and inventoried this trim and should have been familiar with the imperfections, the contractor should have notified us of these flaws.  In any case, the trim was used without sufficient care, repair, or refinishing.  Such trim will have to be repaired and refinished or replaced, as practical.  After the trim was installed, Bob Trustworthy (of TMC) stated that re-using the second-hand trim was a mistake he will not repeat.

12.2.   Baseboard and molding does not match color of doors.  Though all this material was sold to us by TMC as vertical grain ("VG") fir, another contractor has pointed at that the base and molding trim is some wood other than fir.

12.3.      New VG fir window wrap was splintered by saw cut, then installed, stained, and varnished with splinters showing through the finish.

12.4.      Many pieces of newly fabricated trim work are marred by lacquer drips which were allowed to dry without being brushed out.  These drips are now visible.

12.5.      As installed, many baseboard joints are uneven and crude.  These joins will have to be sanded, filled, and re-vanished; should this prove impractical, baseboard will need to be replaced.

12.6.      When the contractor left the DeCoursey job, the following doors had not been purchased or installed:


12.6.1.  Fire door between garage and downstairs hallway.

12.6.2.  Bifold closet doors in Bedroom No. 1.


12.6.3.  Bifold closet doors in Bedroom No 2.


12.6.4.  Bifold door on upstairs linen closet


12.6.5.  Door on Master Bathroom

12.6.6.  Bifold closet doors on downstairs bedroom


12.6.7.  Door on hot water closet in downstairs bedroom

12.6.8.  Bifold closet doors on rec. room closet.


12.7.      On the closets where bi-fold doors have been installed, the track at the top of the doors (along which the track wheels glide) is clearly visible.  The gap is unsightly.  Repair or trim is needed.

12.8.       “Many of the doors do not close and latch correctly and need to be adjusted or reset.  The obvious doors are located in the main bathroom, center front bedroom, master bedroom, and under the lower level stirs.  We recommend retaining a contractor to evaluate all doors throughout the house for correct function and manufacture quality.”

12.8.1.  Door on the basement under-stairs storage closet does not close because of error in trim installation.


12.8.2.  Door for Upstairs Bedroom One does not latch.  According to Evergreen Building Inspection Services, this is a violation of the fire code.


12.8.3.  Doors for Upstairs Bedrooms One & Two, and Master Bedroom are not hung correctly.  They are misaligned with frame.

12.8.4.  Door frame for Hall Bath is twisted and door must be forced to close in frame.

12.8.5.  The door opening on the coat closet on the main floor was not squared and sized correctly for the bifold doors.  Though planed down by the carpenters, the doors are too large for the opening and cannot be closed without force.

12.9.      The trim on the hall staircase is crude and shows gaps between trim and floor.  After the flooring crew installed the hardwood tread for the top stair, the trim carpenters cut the tread at an awkward angle while making room for the baseboard trim.

12.10.   The banister on hall entry stairs is also from the Felker house.  Stain colors in various segments are mismatched and wood finished is dry and parched-looking from apparent partial varnish stripping.  Entire banister will have to be repaired or replaced.

12.11.   Trim on skylights in living room and kitchen does not match trim anywhere else.  The pale wood was clear-coated without prior staining. 

12.12.   Trim on kitchen post on north side of range was installed in three separate sections, using fir sections (from the trim theme) and maple (from the kitchen cabinet theme).  Trim on this post will have to be replaced.

12.13.   Joint between cabinets and floor not trimmed—needs base board to hide framing.

12.14.   In some cases, trim around doors and windows — immediately adjacent to wall — has not been stained at all, and is noticeably unfinished, e.g., master bedroom.  This trim will have to be repaired or replaced, as practical.


12.15.   Upon Contractor insistence, the Felker front door was reused, and a side panel with two glass inserts was fabricated by TMC.  Each insert was fabricated with an outside and inside pane.  However, the panes were not sufficiently cleaned and the inside panels of the glass is cloudy.  These panels cannot now be cleaned.  Moreover, the area between glass panes was not vapor-sealed and is subject to condensation between the panes during the winter and subsequent rotting. “The relite over the front entry door appears to be two standard glass panes and building code requires that thermo pane safety glass be installed over head.  We recommend replacing these two glass sections for safety reasons and to comply with building code.” This winter, condensation between the panes became a reality.

12.16.   Trim around fireplace hearth in rec. room has not been finished or installed.


12.17.   “The stairs leading to the lower level have more than four risers and, therefore, building code requires that handrails be installed that are 1¼ to 2 inches for your safety.”

12.18.   The counter and wall between kitchen and dining room were designed for CD (shallow) cabinets with shelves.  These were not built.




13.1.   “Due to improper filtering, the plenum box and ductwork to the forced air gas furnace is contaminated with gypsum dust and debris and needs to be professionally vacuumed out by a mechanical contractor for health and safety reasons.”

In winter construction, the workers need a warm dry environment to dry the wall studs for drywall nailing, and to dry the drywall mud rapidly between applications.

The furnace and new ductwork was completed in the beginning of December, just in time for the drywall to begin.  On many jobs, the crew will rent a portable propane heater to do the job, but since our furnace became operable, the crew turned it on for the duration of the winter.

Recognizing the wealth of dust created by drywall sanding, we bought a bundle of large filters and taped them over the air returns.  Day after day, when we came to inspect, we replaced the filters or added tape to the drooping filters, begging the workers to take care of them to avoid clogging the furnace with debris.

Our begging was in vain.  At the end of the job, the furnace and ducts were so clogged with dust, they required cleaning from top to bottom by the furnace company.



14.1.  Outside front entry door trim not painted.


14.2.  Corners of gutters not painted.


14.3.  Some areas of inside walls have been “patched” using the wrong color paint (front foyer, wall above living room and rec. room mantles).


14.4.  Underside of porch roof over front door not painted.  We have patched up the most obvious eyesores ourselves.


14.5.  Exterior paint was apparently sprayed over window screens. On the Interior, paint was slopped onto trim and tiles in some places.


15.   SIDING


15.1.     “Some of the exterior siding on the east side of the house needs to be nailed off to prevent water intrusion.  In addition, some of this siding is knotted and/or defective and needs to be replaced.  We recommend retaining a siding contractor to evaluate all siding for correct installation and soundness and then conduct the necessary repairs.”  We have also noticed that some siding has gaps between panels with potential ingress for insects.

15.2.     “The exterior siding at the front of the house appears to be Hardiplank manufactured siding and to the best of our knowledge, is not currently on recall.  We recommend consulting with the builder to identify the nature of the material, as further information may be necessary.  In addition, a warranty on both workmanship and materials should be obtained from the builder or the subcontractor.”

15.3.     “All trim around [exterior] widows and doors is currently 1x4 material and should have been 2x4 material to allow the beveled siding to seat correctly ...”

15.4.  The painted 2x4 trim around the garage door has a mitered joint that has become dislocated either in the original construction or with the passage of time.  The TMC painters obliviously painted right over this flaw without comment, but as a part of the "what's right" approach to renovation as laid out by Paul Stickney, this should have been fixed.


15.5.  In back of house (north side), two bottom panels of siding are missing, exposing the tar paper to the elements, and creating an unsightly appearance.



16.1.  Marmoleum flooring was planned for the laundry, but TMC left it with only the bare concrete slab.