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Dear Bill,

Can a home inspector make an assumption on his report without verifying the facts? My parents are selling their home and the buyers hired a home inspector to inspect the property. They have pressed board siding on their house and the inspector, without even knowing the brand, stated in his report that the manufacturer of the siding on the house was involved in a class action lawsuit.

The manufacturer, it turns out, is "Champion" and after thoroughly researching this, I have found that they are NOT one of the many companies that are involved. It is my speculation that the inspector has assumed that just because there is pressed board siding on the house that there is a lawsuit against the siding manufacturer.

What is your advice on this matter?

Jason

Dear Jason:

Although your home inspector was wrong about the manufacturer's involvement in a class action lawsuit, at least so far, he was right to alert you to this type of siding. Over the past 20 years, pressed board sidings from many manufacturers have a history of failure.

"Pressed Board Siding" is any type of composite material that is not solid wood milled directly from a tree trunk. All of the manufacturers of composite products make claims about durability and life expectancy, which, in most cases, have proven untrue, if not outright fraudulent.

Exotic Material

The protocol for home inspectors is to alert the home buyer to any "exotic" materials they identify in a home. Exotic materials include components like plastic water supply pipes, high-efficiency furnaces, and pressed board siding -- along with a dozen others.

A material identified as "exotic" means that it has not been in use for more than 25 years and the only estimate of its durability are the manufacturer's claims.1

The Problem

Incredible as it sounds, the problem with pressed board siding is almost always moisture penetration of the finished surface of the siding which causes swelling, buckling or disintegration of the siding.

It would seem logical, wouldn't it, that a product intended for exterior siding would be good at repelling water? But pressed board materials are not! Anytime the bottom edge or an end-cut are not sealed with paint or caulking the siding soaks up the water from normal weathering and begins to swell, then deteriorate.

If you own a home with composite siding, it is critical that it is painted regularly to seal it, and that all joints or unions are very well caulked. If this maintenance is not completed, it is likely that the siding will have to be replaced in 5-10 years.

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