Dry Rot Repair

Are You in Need of Dry-Rot Repair?

So you haven’t done any exterior maintenance or dry-rot repair in a while and now you are looking for a contractor to take care of some soft spots.  They might be at the bottom of your T-111 siding. They might be in the the combed primed spruce corner boards or window trim on your 3 year old tract home.

Dry-rot is a fungal decay of wood that needs three things: the fungal spores, moisture and food (the wood in your house). Fungal spores can be found anywhere.  The food you probably are wanting to keep in its current location. That leaves moisture as the easiest thing to eliminate.

Dry Rot DamageHow do we do this.  The very first thing that we do when we evaluate a house is the gutters and downspouts.  We are not really remedying the problem if we fix dry-rot but leave the moisture problem.  Assuming that everything was built fairly well to begin with, what we most often find as contributing factors are dirty gutters/downspouts, insufficient attic venting, barkdust or dirt against siding or mature landscaping that will not allow the siding to dry. Any one of these things can turn a minor caulking problem into a nasty, expensive issue.

What can you do to lower the cost?  That is a great question. The least expensive option is prevention.  Clean your gutters at least once per year (more if you have a lot of trees surrounding your home).  While you have your ladder out, you should look for signs of failed caulking, cut out any bad spots and replace with new.  If you don’t have the time or are already looking at some repairs, the next least expensive option is to do the discovery yourself: remove the damaged wood, siding, trim back bushes and trees to have good access, dispose of the debris, clean those gutters and downspouts or try to fix the underlying cause of the dry-rot if you can, etc.  Once all the discovery has been done and the damaged wood has been removed, you can invite multiple contractors over to bid putting it back together. (Of course, you need to know when to say when. For example, opening the siding and leaving compromised structural pieces so that I know what I need to order when it comes time to replace is critical.)

Our last dry-rot job was a pier and post addition on an older home suffering from a “little dry-rot”. The homeowner knew that they were many years past due on maintenance and hired us to have discover the extent of the problem.  It is not possible to know if the wall under the small spot of dry-rot is also affected. It turned out that we had to replace all the skirting, rebuild the lower part of the back porch.

Imagine having a small car accident.  You take your car to a body shop. The body shop will give you a quote on the paint and the bumper cover.  They will not quote anything beyond what they can see. Such is the case with dry-rot. Most reputable companies will give you an hourly rate per worker with materials marked up a certain amount as well.  We charge for all materials delivered by vendors, but do not charge for consumables such as saw blades or anything that we have in our shop left over from previous jobs. We ask you at the end of your job if you want to keep the leftover material or donate it to Habitat for Humanity or to our next client.

Are You in Need of Dry-Rot Repair?2019-10-01T16:17:14+00:00

Dry Rot Repair

Even if you have to pay to have your roof and gutters cleaned, it is money well spent!

I bought my first house in North Portland which (together with most other neighborhoods on the East side of the Willamette) are predominantly working class. Folks know how to clean their gutters, own the tools to get it done and generally have enough time to do it at least once a year, taking the steps to help prevent dry rot. A clean roof and gutters, along with a properly functioning rain drain system and positive grading are the best ways to extend the life of your home.

My second house was in SW Portland where there are more professionals who may not even own a ladder. The consequence of this lack of time and the proper tools resulted in most of the houses that I was looking at needing extensive repairs. I finally found one that also needed extensive work, but it was priced right.

Not far down the street from us was a curious looking house. You could tell it was a bungalow at one point, but it had no original siding. I asked what had happened to it and it turned out to be a very interesting story! According to the neighbors, the house had a dry rot problem which was so extensive that the whole house was demolished down to the foundation and rebuilt. Dry rot is wood decay caused by certain species of fungi that digest parts of the wood which give the wood strength and stiffness. It was previously used to describe any decay of cured wood in ships and buildings by a fungus which resulted in a darkly colored deteriorated and cracked condition. Of course, insurance only covers catastrophic, sudden leaks and not things that result from deferred (as in never) maintenance, so the owner was stuck with an UGLY repair bill.

Dry Rot DamageThis story sticks with me when potential clients call about dry rot repairs. Reputable contractors will only do dry-rot repairs on a “time and materials” basis unless it is absolutely clear on what is being fixed and what is not. A a home owner, you might be nervous about signing a blank check when it comes to repairs, but that is where the reputation of your contractor is paramount.

If you think about the extreme case as with the curious looking house above, would you expect your contractor to rebuild your whole house for the price of replacing siding board? Of course, you wouldn’t! Most of our clients choose to have us fix dry rot during the course of our work, we are there, we have our saws, ladders and nail guns set up. It just isn’t going to get any less expensive than that.

Dry Rot Repair2019-04-17T18:44:37+00:00

Improper Flashing Leads to Dry Rot – 6203 SW 21st Ave, Portland, Oregon

Dry Rot

We originally met this client from working on a new construction project next door.  One of our trees fell across his house during a storm.  Rather than argue about whose fault it was, we went over the same day to tarp over a hole made in the roof.  We went over the next day to remove the tree, cut up the wood and cart away the branches.  We then repaired the damage to his roof at no charge.  Don’t you wish we were your neighbor?!

I have found that doing the right thing often gets rewarded.  After repairing storm damage to his roof, the owner asked us to look into the cause of a small area of dry rot.  Demo, carpentry, insulation, roofing?  Yes, we can.

Water is the enemy of any structure.  Nine times out of ten, water intrusion problems can be traced back to lack of adequate gutter cleaning.  Most settling, cracking, dry rot, heaving driveways, etc. can be traced back to gutters.

In this particular case, almost all of the roof penetrations were improperly flashed by the original roofer. A normal roof would have let the owner know immediately that it was having a problem.  This roof, however, was made up of multiple layers of asphalt shingles, asphalt paper, oriented strand board, plywood, rigid foam insulation, and finally tongue and groove decking.  The owner only became aware of the problem after many years.  The damage spread over two thirds of the total roof area.


The work of a general contractor over time speaks for itself.  This owner was so pleased with our work, he was considering paying us to travel to San Diego to work on his home there!


Improper Flashing Leads to Dry Rot – 6203 SW 21st Ave, Portland, Oregon2017-09-03T22:17:47+00:00