Extensive Dry Rot Damage

Answered by Jeffrey ~ July 28, 2010 ~ Comments

I have extensive wood dry rot affecting the entire wall behind the master bath shower. Some of the dry rot affects structural beams and the framing supporting 2 windows. What type of contractor is best suited to repair this? Is a general contractor trained to peform such repair?

Hume ~ Huntington Beach, California

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Hume, It sounds like the area has already been exposed or at least part of it has. I would start with a general contractor, there is a good chance that they are going to be able to handle the entire project and have the ability to hire other contractors to assist them if needed such as a tile contractor or plumber.

Dry rot often looks worse than it is; there could be a chance that most of the framing in the walls is just marked from the moisture, but structurally it is fine. The first thing that needs to happen is for all the tile work and dry wall in the suspect area to be removed so the framing can be examined. The contractor should be able to tell how sound the framing is by using a nail or knife to find out how soft the wood is.

Any wood that is soft should be removed and replaced. Wood that has been wet but has no dry rot should be thoroughly brushed down with bleach to prevent possible mold or mildew issues. I would leave everything open for one or two days so that the framing has a chance to dry out.

The big question is going to be what is causing the dry rot? A dry rot repair in a shower area is usually an indication of a plumbing leak inside the wall or water getting into the wall due to cracked caulking or a broken tile. The fact that you have dry rot damage around your windows and high up at structural beams might indicate other issues. There could be water getting in from outside at the roof or around the windows, or even due to a problem with your exterior siding.

You asked if there was some sort of training in this type of project for general contractors, and in my mind the best training is the school of experience. I would look around Huntington Beach or another close by town there in California, and see if you can locate a general contractor who has been in business for at least 5 or 10 years. Locating a water leak can be difficult for even an experienced contractor, but at least they should know where to look.

An experienced contractor should also have all the required insurance and licenses needed to work in California and have a pretty good idea of who the best plumbers, drywall contractors, and tile mechanics are in the area, if their assistance is needed to complete the project. The only other type of contractor that you might have to hire would be a mold remediation contractor if the dry rot has progressed to mold or mildew. A general contractor is not qualified to certify that the mold has been removed and would probably prefer that you worked directly with that company yourself.

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