We’ve all seen houses where the kitchen has been redone, painting and paper are in progress, or the floor has been refinished . . . yet the roof is missing slates or shingles, rotting clapboards sit near the foundation, and overgrown shrubbery hugs the perimeter of the house. Leaks happen, and unless you want do-overs inside, realize that some things simply can’t wait. The short list includes roof and flashing, gutters and drainage, siding, exterior paint, vegetation encroaching on roof or siding, and also antiquated electrical systems.
The most significant threat to the longevity of any house is preventing the incursion of water inside. Consider the house in its immediate environment: It’s connected to the ground and exposed to heat and cold, humidity and dry air, and rain, sun, snow, and wind. It’s protected by an envelope that starts at the roof with shingles, flashing, and gutters, and continues down vertically with siding, windows, and downspouts. The house continues to shed water in its immediate surroundings through surface drainage, and beneath the house with systems that control the entry of water. Signs of water infiltration can be as obvious as water damage to the ceiling (check the roof), or as subtle as a consistently damp basement. Let’s start at the top.