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Exterior Photos
The exterior covers many areas, but primarily we will be looking at the exterior shell of the building:  Siding, windows, trim, decks, etc.  Much can and should be done to maintain the exterior of a home.  Special care should be taken in maintaining wood trim and penetrations in the siding.  If your home is in an area with extreme weather (such as the coast), caulking and painting will be one of the most vital areas of maintaining your home.

This window was installed after original construction.  Flashing is necessary to prevent water from leaking into the wall cavity or the interior of the home; however, flashing is typically installed before the siding.  Difficulty arises when replacing windows as the siding is already in place.
Retrofit windows are more popular than ever.  These allow an easy upgrade to dual-pane windows without removing siding.  However, the new window relies on caulking and the original flashing.  Following the installation instructions is key.  This window was installed over the trim and could leak.
The purpose of the exterior siding is to protect the wood framing from the elements.  Clearly, the stucco is incomplete, but it looked good from underneath.  The fix would be to remove the gutter, examine the building paper for damage, repair the paper (if needed) and patch the stucco.
I really don't know how this occurred.  My guess would be that incorrect nails were used in the beam hanger.  If you look at the upper/right of the photo, you will see a gap between the top of the girder and the underside of the joist.  The next photo shows more.
Here you can see how the beams have sagged/settled.  Improper nails probably caused this.  Unfortunately, the only way to find out for sure and to correct this is to remove the beam hangers, which means dismantling the deck.  This was a big deck, too.
I guess this is what happens when you annoy a woodpecker.  I have never seen siding damage quite like this before.  With birds this aggressive, I would want to use a cement-fiber siding rather than wood.  But, I am not sure if even that would work.
Many lumber companies have come out with various forms of fiber-type sidings.  Many manufacturers have had defective siding recalls and, while I have found the current products to be more reliable, maintenance is still more important with this type of product than a solid redwood siding.
The nail hole is a good clue as to the condition of the siding.  The material, in this case, has swollen so much that it pulled past the nail head.  The material was so far gone that pieces of it were falling out onto the ground.
Looking at the lower edge of lap siding will give another clue as to the condition of the material.  The face of the siding is protected by a resin-coated paper, but the edge is not.  Water will bead-up along this lower edge and soak into the fiber material like a sponge.
As the fiber siding soaks up the water, the adhesive will fail and the material will swell, crack and fall apart.  Even with a non-defective product, the bottom edge is vulnerable and special care should be taken to ensure that it is well coated with paint.
As the material delaminates, the damage becomes much more apparent.
This damage was at least partially caused by a leak at the window.  The upper portion of the window was not properly flashed, allowing water to penetrate behind the siding and trim, causing interior damage as well as this damage to the siding and trim.
I would prefer to see a landing at the top of these steps as well as a handrail leading up the steps.  A handrail is required when there are four or more risers.  While a handrail would not have been required in this case, someone can still fall and become injured without one.
The next three photos are not really a siding problem, but more of a wood framing problem.  The garage door header sagged, allowing the brick and mortar to crack and sag as well.
One of the problems with something like this is that it is difficult to tell whether or not the sagging is done or if it will continue, eventually resulting in failure.  The only way to be certain would be to have a structural engineer assess the wood header behind and make a determination.
Of course, if the beam is undersized, it will be necessary to provide additional support.  It is likely that it will be necessary to remove the brick veneer in order to replace the garage door header.
Paint is the first line of defense for the siding.  However, even more important is what is in the paint.  New EPA regulations require testing and proper handling of lead containing paint.  Any home constructed prior to 1980 may have lead in the paint.  Go to our 'Links' page for information.
For information regarding siding maintenance, please click here.
Click on these thumbnail images for a nifty little slide show and descriptions.
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