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Hardi Plank/ Panel installation requirements

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How many of you out there are writing up hardi plank and panel siding in contact with horizontal flashing (and almost always caulked) as an improper installation per manufacturers installation instructions?

I have been writing this up as an improper installation on just about every home I inspect (seems to be the most common siding on newer construction). I have not gotten any complaints from a customer, but have been chewed out , etc. by builders and realtors for calling this out (because it is the way it is done).

I included a link to their installation instructions for the panel siding (they also call for a 2" clearance from the roofing to the siding that I write up in the reports). It seems to me that I am reading everything properly and there should be a 1/4" gap with no caulk at all flashing areas. Am I missing something?http://www.jameshardie.com/pdf/hardipanelinstall.pdf

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No, you aren't missing anything; I write it up all the time. You're dealing with the old "That's the way we've done it for 30 years" mentality. It doesn't matter that they're lying and that they have no idea how it was done 30 years ago, but it sounds good to them and they use it as a cudgel.

Sooner or later, you'll run into code guys who don't say anything about it and then the builder will squawk about how it's passed code. When that happens, call the code guy up, suggest that he's missed something and shoot him the manufacturer's instructions so he can't give it a by. Do that enough, and eventually the code guys start correcting it and with time it will grow.

When I first hit this area about ll years ago, head flashings were almost non-existent on even the most expensive homes. I just started writing up homes for windows and doors without head flashings. When builders squawked and said that they'd passed code, I'd tell them that it might have passed code but it failed the common sense test. I think it's had an impact, because where I've done a lot of houses in developments by certain builders I've started seeing head flashings. I'm not saying I single-handedly got people to start installing head flashings again, but I think I helped raise awareness and got some folks to think about the consequences of how they've been doing things.

We're fighting a constant war with ignorance and the push to cut corners. In the old days, a master carpenter would teach a young fellow how to do everything from setting up batter boards and shooting footing trenches to roofing. Now, those skills aren't passed down anymore. Many of the people learning building skills now are learning them from folks who didn't learn those skills correctly in the first place and who've figured out some way to cut corners with what they've learned. There is no master carpenter teaching people anymore what the consequences of a screwed up valley, reversed starter course or improperly splined window are. There's only us. If we don't point it out - nobody will.



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You might also recall that all of the EIFS manufacturers provided detailed installation guidelines as well! The EIFS manufacturers also took it to another level by "Certifying" their installers. And the rest is history!

I would say that the James Hardie folks learned a little lesson from the EIFS industry, and that some of their guidelines might boarder on the edge of overkill. The object is to keep water out of the structure and their guidelines will do that, it they are followed.

Yes, I call out those items as well.

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Along the same lines-- there are many homes out there where a horizontal trim is installed above windows, etc. and no flashing is installed. I can not find anything in the code books requiring it (so if flashing is there this is how it should be done per manufacturer). Now if flashing is omitted, what then? Do you just recommend keeping all horizontal trim very well caulked? What I do is write it up as a poor installation of materials and consider the trim to be a dissimilar siding material (flashing is required at dissimilar siding materials per IRC from what I make of it). Now since the code only says flashing is required (at windows) at dissimilar siding materials, how do you guys write that up since there is (supposed to be) flashing behind the siding/ trim at nailing flange areas?

Now on installations where horizontal trim nailed to a panel siding after all siding is installed (and is then decoratice), how do you write it up since it WILL trap water and cause damage (unless Hardi plank which I have never seen damaged at these areas)??

Any help would be appreciated, because I am a deal kill and too picky apparently.

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In the IRC 2006 section R703.8 Flashing; item #4- Continuously above all projecting wood trim.

This may be a little vague as to "projection"; however, I feel that all skirt boards, water tables as well as all window and door head trim should be flashed.


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One of the first things that is taught to a certified EIFS inspector is that manufacturer's installation instructions are to be followed at all times. Anytime someone suggests to do it differently, approval in writing must be obtained from the manufacturer. Not the applicator, not even the supplier.

In most cases, when a system fails, it is due to improper installation. Usually flashing/sealing

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To date: We have given installation instructions to four code bubbas, 10-12 installers, 5-6 homeowners and dozen real estate agents. Recommended web site to many more. Only seen it done correctly one time - one of our inspector's own house.

I like the product.

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