THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO POINT OUT THAT FOR THE MOYLANS, LIFE JUST HASN’T BEEN FAIR.
In 2003 Jann and Tim Moylan, along with their one young child, moved from Maryland and bought a spec house in Orchid Island, Vero Beach, FL from a well-known Vero Beach contractor, Barth Construction, Inc.
The house developed extreme roof leaks, causing extensive structural damage within the house, which in turn caused a build-up of mold on the walls. The Moylan’s now have two young children and were living in an atmosphere of tarpaulins placed strategically to catch rain seeping in from the roof.
According to floridahealth.gov, “there are four kinds of health problems that come from exposure to mold: allergic illness, irritant effects, infection, and toxic effects.”
Mind you, once again, the Moylan’s now have two young children.
The roof in question was a cement stucco roof, with a life expectancy of at least 25 years.
Although the Moylan’s live in Orchid Island, that doesn’t necessarily mean they had the where with all to quickly fork out the cost of a new roof and repair damages to the house from the leaks.
To gain an expert opinion of the nature of the problems, the Moylan’s engaged the services of the most preeminent roofing inspector in the State of Florida, Mr. Leslie G. Knopf, CPRC, President of Knopf & Associates, Inc. Rivera Beach, FL.
Knopf & Associates, Inc. is a consulting organization focused solely on the roofing industry. The objective of the firm is to assist property Owners/Managers, Architects, Engineers, Roofing Contractors and Legal Counsel with inspection, design, and quality control issues. It is Palm Beach County’s oldest established full-time roofing consulting firm with clients throughout the southeastern United States.
Knopf & Associates, Inc. is used as an expert witness by the State of Florida, as well as other states in the southeastern United States.
Here is Mr. Knopf’s inspection report on the Moylan residence dated February 25, 2015:
“In review of the permit documents I find discrepancy between the basic handwritten application and the actual roof permit #2916.
First the Barth construction permit lists Cardinal Roofing as the roof contractor of record, although there is no information listed as to roof type, manufacturer name, or most importantly an approved FL-Product system number. This information was required by per the Florida Building Code (FBC), which went into effect on January 1, 2002.
Second the actual permit issued #2916, is titled as a mechanical permit, although the reference company is Weatherseal, Inc. a local roofing contractor. The permit lists categorized roof sizes, which relate to the actual permit cost. Again there was no information as to roof system type, manufacturer, or FL-Product approval number. Nor was there any documents provided showing a change in subcontractor, from Cardinal to Weatherseal.
Third the plan pages simply refer to a ‘cement tile on hot mopped 90# dry in over 15# felt on a 5/8 CDX plywood roof sheathing,’ a vague and certainly outdated roof description.
The terms 15# and 90# have not been used in well over 20 years. This is because under ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials), the quality of these products have been reduced, so their reference is now a #15 or #90. #15 used to weigh 15 lbs, it now weighs 13 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. 90# used to weigh 90 lbs., it now weighs 74 lbs. per sq. ft., an almost 25% reduction in quality.
The original 30#/90# system would provide about 20 years life expectancy under tile, with the ASTM reduced product quality; it is somewhere around 12-15 years, depending on who installs same.
A walk through the residence interior noted water stains in ceilings and at crown moldings, in several rooms, always associated with a location beneath a roof valley, photos 2-3.
A walk around the exterior at ground level noted minimal to excessive evidence of water stains from active roof leaks, as shown in my photos 4-6, again associated with the valleys.
I accessed the garage attic, where I was able to identify and photo a small section of plywood decay at the base of the valley, photos 12, which relate to photo 5. I also referred to the series of undated attic photos provided by yourself, which reflect serious structural damage, including plywood decking, roof trusses and 2x cross framing.
The extent of damage suggests this roof has been leaking for many years, although it has recently become evident within the house.
The tile system installed per the FRSA/RTI, second edition tile manual is a system #1, utilizing a #30/90 hot mopped membrane underlayment, which I could confirm by removing piece tile, at the valleys (exhibit 3). The wood battens for the tile install are attached to the roof using nails, which you showed me in the plastic bag. These nails were badly rusted, a violation of FBC, Chapter 15, Section 1506.5 Fasteners (exhibit 2)..
Additionally these battens were installed so they were extended well into the centerline of the roof valleys, which cause a drainage impedance, a weir effect, if you will. Battens should stop a minimum of 4″ either side of the valley centerline.
My photo 10 shows a batten at 1.5″ off centerline. This was found by removing a piece (cut) tile at a valley. Most cut tiles were basically set in place, but never attached. These tiles do not meet the minimum intent of the building code and are subject to a blow-off in a storm.
The piece tile (3) below the chimney, were glued to each other, but were never properly attached, to the structure. I had to break the bond between the three tile, to remove them, where I noted 3 dabs of glue in the tile interlocking drain channel at the right of three tile, again an improper attaching method. By attaching tile to tile, but not to the structure, the tile become a loose monolithic slab, which can separate from the roof in a storm event.
Having visited your residence and reviewed both the physical and photographic leak evidence, there is no question this roof was poorly specified, poorly installed, which has now led to significant structural, both known and unknown (yet to be determined) consequential damages. Further, the roof does not meet the minimum intent of the Florida Building Code, 2001 Edition. The only viable remedy is a complete roof replacement.”
Additionally, through our public records requests with the City of Orchid, the Moylan’s property appears to have only inspected once, prior to the Certificate of Occupancy issued on February 13, 2003, as opposed to what we understand to be three required inspections.
Barth Construction, Inc.
On September 23, 2016 the Moylan’s filed suit for damages against Barth Construction, Inc. pursuant to Florida Chapter 558.004.
The statute of repose is a potential problem the Moylan’s need to overcome, since their claim is certainly not baseless or frivolous.
According to Wikipedia, “a statute of repose (sometimes called a non-claim statute), like a statute of limitation, is a statute that cuts off certain legal rights if they are not acted on by a certain deadline.”
The 2003 version of the statute provided for a 15-year statute of limitations period for where the Moylan’ could file suit for damages. The 2006 version of the statute, however, reduced the statute of limitations period to 10 years.
Extensive research has not turned up any reason to believe the Moylan complaint would not be grandfathered into the 15-year statute of limitations period even though they purchased the house in 2003 and in 2006 the statute of limitations period was reduced to 10 years.
“I’m worn out,” says Jann Moylan. “This whole experience has upended our household for the past two years. I am grateful for those who helped us financially put on a new roof, but I just found out we have a $ 5,000 deductible for the interior repairs and no insurance for living elsewhere when the repairs are done. How can we be sure the mold situation will be completely remediated? What else could be found out? Who knows, could there be problems with the foundation? Now we live in a house we don’t trust, where we are uncomfortable living, that we would have trouble selling, and we feel we have been treated so unjustly we wonder how many other people out there have been so taken advantage of. Fortunately, I have my two wonderful children, a supportive husband and a new puppy to keep me at peace.”
In closing, we ask you in our community to feel for the Moylan’s. There is really nothing you can do EXCEPT let us know if you are being taken advantage of, by whomever, so we can chase these people down and report any form of injustice.
The Moylan family. Not inside; but outside their house.