Anybody who owns Costa Rica real estate should know that once the rainy season begins your leaky roofs and flashing installations need repairs. During the rainy season, we get a lot more rain than you are probably used to back home.
So if you own a single family home or a condominium in Costa Rica, you need to pay attention to your roof and gutters. Thomas Rosenberger, the # 1 home inspector in Costa Rica has written several blogs for our readership that tells us all about Costa Rica roofing and repairs. You can also read Tom's original blog on his own website, as well as many other tips about Costa Rica construction and home inspection. This article was published with Tom's permission.
There are several methods to troubleshoot and solve roofing problems. Following 20 years of inspecting and constructing houses in Costa Rica, I’ve witnessed mostly quick fixes that temporarily solve leaky roofs. Quick fix repair methods with tubes of silicone to fill gaps are nothing more than band-aids on open wounds and the homeowners are seldom satisfied as their roofs usually continue to leak.
Quality building materials
I’ve found that it’s not prudent to participate in projects unless quality building materials and proven installation methods can be utilized to completely solve the client’s problems. That way, the clients are not inconvenienced by the contractor needing to return several times to complete the repairs to the client’s satisfaction.
The photos and descriptions in this presentation are of the most frequent construction defects I’ve discovered during my 20 years of construction and home inspections in Costa Rica. Additionally, I’ve detailed the most suitable methods to completely solve the problems.
Painting with anti-corrosive paint
One method that the Tico builders use to maintain their roofs is to periodically paint the metal laminates with anti-corrosive paint. Anyone who has purchased paint in Costa Rica knows that the paint is expensive and usually doesn’t last more than a year on roofs down here under the intense ultraviolet rays of the sun.
When the paint peels off the metal laminates, it’s a lot of work to clean the loose paint and prepare the surface for another coat of new paint. If the roof surface is not maintained consistently with sufficient anti-corrosive paint, corrosion begins on the exterior surfaces of the laminates as well as on the undersides of the laminates and spreads as the metal is exposed to further humidity.
In Costa Rica, the majority of roofing installations are corrugated metal laminates, screwed into light weight wood or metal structures. Because proper sheathing and waterproofing underlayment are seldom used, there is nothing preventing moisture from infiltrating inside the dwellings. Additionally, the part of metal laminates that overhang the gutters is exposed to a great deal of moisture and when corrosion begins on the bottom of metal laminates, it spreads like cancer.
In a few instances, I’ve inspected roofing installations where plywood sheathing was utilized. However, drip edge flashing is rarely used and when the gutters fill up during heavy rains, the water backs up onto the sheathing and causes the plywood to warp as well as entering inside the soffits and onto the fascias. The absence of flashing is one of the most common problems here in Costa Rica and most local tradesmen don’t know how to properly install flashing materials.
The shortcomings of these types of inferior roofing installations result in a variety of damages to dwellings. When rainwater builds up inside the gutters, it flows out from where the gutters are attached to the roof structure. Once the water is inside the overhangs, it causes moisture damage to the ceilings of the soffits and eventually becomes visible on the exterior of the overhanging soffits.
Additionally, this same water accumulating inside the gutters flows onto the fascia materials and eventually stains the surface. These soffits and fascias in these two photos have cementitious laminates for the finished surface, commonly referred to as “Fibrolit” here in Cost Rica. These laminates were not designed to be taped and plastered like drywall and therefore cracks are always visible where they join together.
In another blog, Tom will explain about the use of green drywall and Dens Glass laminates, come back next week.
Before you purchase a home in Costa Rica, contact Tom Rosenberger for his home inspection services. Tom Rosenberger is a knowledgeable home and land inspector in Costa Rica with over 30 years of land development and construction experience. Tom enables his clients to "See Beyond the Obvious" before committing to land acquisition and construction projects. Tom is a legal resident of Costa Rica and has lived here since 1992, building and remodeling homes and condominiums, along with developing land into building lots.
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