Picture of poor contractor work with bathroom dormer that wasn't flashed resulting in water damage on the entire side of the house

The contractor who completed a bathroom remodel for this client built a bathroom dormer and failed to flash it and set the window too low resulting in water damage.

If you’ve ever struggled to pull up what appears to be a small weed and been amazed by the depth and breadth of its root structure, you already understand the difficulties that can stem from seemingly simple home repairs.

Obviously, maintaining things properly is the best approach; if exterior wood is properly installed, caulked and painted, it won’t be as prone to rot; if damaged shingles are replaced, the roof won’t leak. Yet maintenance isn’t always possible, because you might not notice an issue until it’s too late or you may not know your home’s prior maintenance history.

At Palmer Custom Builders, the roots of our company are in home repairs. Over the years, as our expertise grew and as our clients requested, we expanded into renovations and eventually, custom homes. In this economy, we are finding that more people won’t fortify the foundation of their largest investment by investing in repairs, yet they actually may be weakening its structure if they rely on an inexperienced handyman instead of a skilled contractor. Here’s why:

We approach each repair as a puzzle to be solved. Rather than just replacing a water-damaged threshold, we look beneath the surface to discover what caused the problem: How did the water seep in? Is the weak point a split door jamb? Improperly installed siding or maybe lack of flashing? We then design a corrective measure to avoid future problems. Finally, we ask which materials we can use to minimize future maintenance and prevent this from happening again.

After photo of repaired dormer showing replaced siding and trim, new copper step and counter flashing, new gutters and new roof

We traced the source of the problem, repaired the structural damage, redesigned and replaced the dormer siding and trim, installed new copper step and counter flashing, new gutters, and reroofed the house.

Those are many more steps than an inexperienced or average handyman would take – he may just replace a single board or piece of trim. Yet that means you’ll be calling him back to make the same repair again and again – ultimately costing you more and perhaps resulting in structural damage to your home.

On a similar note, the materials and proper installation techniques that a professional contractor uses will determine how long the repair lasts. Using advanced maintenance-free materials may require skills that a handyman doesn’t possess, or he may just be unfamiliar with the latest materials. You may pay less initially, but you’ll keep making the repair until it is done properly with enduring materials such as HardiPlank, PVC brick molding, primed trim for fascia (a composite “no-rot” trim material), soffits and other maintenance-free exterior siding trim. Once these materials are primed and painted, you cannot tell the difference from “real” wood, except when you see your neighbors busily replacing their wood trim, painting their homes’ trim and siding, and staining their wood decks while you are sunning yourself by your pool.