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posted: 3/16/2012 5:00 AM

Home inspector: Contractor blamed for cracked windows

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Q. I am a licensed contractor and recently installed some roller shades above the windows of a new home. About two weeks ago a few of the glass panes started cracking, some at the top and some at the bottom. The window supplier says this was caused by our shades being closer than three inches from the windows. According to the shade manufacturer, the shades could be touching the glass without causing cracks. The manufacturer has been in business for over 40 years, and they say they've never had this complaint before. But the window company has convinced the homeowners that we are to blame, and they are demanding that we replace the windows. What do you recommend we do?

A. It is absurd to allege that window shades caused the glass to crack, merely by being too close. If that were a reasonable cause, then cracks would be commonly caused by curtains and venetian blinds often installed within 3 inches of the glass. Rather than pass blame, the window manufacturer and the builder should have a qualified expert conduct an independent forensic investigation to determine the actual cause of the cracks. Possibilities are numerous, but a few that come to mind are:

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• Sagging of the headers above the windows.

• Shrinkage of the framing lumber in the walls.

• Temperature changes due to seasonal weather.

• Pressure from the foam insulation in the walls.

The attempt to blame your company for the window damage appears to be a defensive rush to judgment. Good luck in fighting this.

Q. I hired someone to install a new sprinkler timer in the garage, but he did sloppy work. The wires next to the timer are covered with unsightly black tape. None of this was visible with the old timer. He said nothing is wrong with it, but I am concerned. Is it up to code to just tape wires like this, and will it be a problem when I sell my house?

A. The only problem with the wiring is the unsightliness. Wires from an irrigation timer to sprinkler valves are low voltage. Therefore, they do not violate the electrical code and are not unsafe.

It is unlikely that someone buying a home will be concerned about a detail such as this in a garage. However, the person you hired would have shown better workmanship and professionalism by concealing the wire connections behind the timer. It would not be unreasonable to request that he do so now.

Q. My home was built in 1910, and I want to know if I have to bring the foundations and the crawl space vents up to code. Is there any such requirement for older homes?

A. With rare exceptions, homes are not required to comply with building codes that came into effect after construction. The first edition of the building code was published in 1927, so your home is definitely grandfathered and not subject to mandatory foundation upgrades. However, it would be wise to have the building professionally inspected so you will be aware of deficiencies or hazardous conditions that warrant repairs or upgrades, regardless of requirements.

• Email questions to Barry Stone through his website, housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

Access Media Group

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