Inspecting the roof is a very important part of the inspection.
Something wrong with the roof can lead to issues inside the home—especially from leaking. But inspecting the roof is not just about the roof covering. It is also about the condition of skylights, chimneys, plumbing vents, ventilation, the electric service, the phone & cable service, gutters, antennas/satellite dishes, dormers, flashings, vermin intrusion, etc.
While many of these issues can be identified from the ground—-or from a ladder at the edge of the roof—some things are very difficult to assess without physically traversing the roof. The badly deteriorated chimney in the picture below is a good example of what could not be seen from the ground. The inspector might be able to “guess” about issues with the chimney from the eaves, but the extent of issues with the chimney could not be seen without “being there.”
Current Standards of Practice of the Licensed, Washington State, Home Inspector, requires the inspector to traverse the roof when it is safe to do so.
Safety of the inspector is paramount, and each inspector determines their own comfort level regarding getting on roofs. Some inspectors carry a 16 foot fold-up ladder in their inspection vehicle. If they can’t get on the roof with that, they defer inspection of the roof to others. Some roofs are just too steep, too covered with snow, too—-a lot of things.
I get on every roof that I can, but sometimes I have to resort to moving the ladder all around the edge of the roof to look at as much of it as I can—sometimes it means bringing out the climbing harness and ropes (obviously this is not recommended unless the inspector is experienced with climbing gear).
I always feel like not getting on the roof is doing my client a disservice. I really don’t like recommending further evaluation by a roofing contractor—-are they going to care about the condition of the chimney or other issues?
Part of my “business model” is to defer as little as possible for “further evaluation” as it tends to slow down the whole home buying process. The person most qualified to assess all of the various issues that might be present on the roof is the Licensed Home Inspector.
Sometimes the roof is so moss covered that I have to call for the roof to be professionally cleaned and then have me back for “further evaluation.”
Who knows what is lurking under all that moss?
Cushy to walk on though 😀
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