Q: Last year I had new vinyl siding and gutters put on my house. Every time it rains, water seeps under the storm window down the inside of the window. If I do not put towels on the windowsill to soak up water, the water drips down the wall under the floor, causing water to get into the basement.

I want to have someone come in to inspect the work of the contractor who did the job. Could you please advise me who would do this type of inspection?

A: We assume you’ve tried to resolve this problem with the siding contractor and have gotten nowhere. If you haven’t, start there first.

If the contractor you used is either unlicensed or unresponsive, perhaps a complaint filed with the California Contractors State Licensing Board will get him off the dime. On the Web, see www.cslb.ca.gov.

The source of your leak could be a faulty gutter installation, a faulty siding installation or faulty flashing.

We are also concerned that water leaking from the window is finding its way into the basement. Water infiltration, if unchecked, can result in a string of problems from buckling flooring to dry rot in the walls, windows, or floors.

There are three types of building professionals who might help. The first is a certified home inspector. Next is a structural and pest control contractor, also know as a termite contractor. Finally, a licensed and experienced general contractor may be able to shed light on the problem.

A home inspector typically inspects the entire house in search of defects from roof to foundation. Structural and pest control operators limit their inspections to damage from fungus or insects. A good general contractor has a working knowledge of building structures and thus is in a position to make an informed opinion of the cause of the leakage.

Over the past 20-plus years, home inspections have become common when selling a home. To meet the demand for pre-purchase inspections, a new profession — the home inspector — has developed. If you know a real estate agent, and it seems we all do these days, she or he can give you a reference for an inspector. Because inspections are a part of virtually all home sales, real estate professionals work with home inspectors regularly and know the good ones from the bad.

Make sure that the home inspector you hire is certified. Certification is awarded by a number of trade organizations, one of which is the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The cost of a home inspection in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, is between $300 and $400. You may be able to negotiate a reduced fee if you limit the inspection to the cause of the leaky siding.

Home inspectors generally will not perform the repairs. This is both good and bad. The inspector is not looking for a job, so you stand to get an objective opinion. But you’ll have to find a contractor to do the work.

Real estate agents are also a good resource for finding a structural and pest control contractor. Termite contractors are licensed by the state, and are required to be bonded and insured.

Their expertise is finding the source of insect or fungal infection. In this case, that means the source of the water infiltration.

If you haven’t had a structural and pest control inspection done to your home in a while, we’d suggest that you do so now. There may be other issues that you are unaware of, and we believe that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. The cost of the inspection should be in the neighborhood of $150.

Finally, if you know of a licensed general contractor specializing in home remodeling or renovation, this might be a less expensive way to go. Ask for a bid to repair the problem. Cost for the estimate should be nominal or nothing at all. Make sure the contractor is licensed and bonded. It wouldn’t hurt to get two more bids to verify the scope of the work is correct and the price is right.

Whomever you choose to have a look at the job, their goal should be to find the source of the water and recommend a repair or fix the problem.


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