Is just a home inspector incompetent if he or she doesn’t, as an over-all rule, traverse roofs?
At once it could have been safe to express “no, failure to be on the roof doesn’t make an inspector incompetent “.However, as client expectations change, and many in the market strive to improve the credibility of home inspectors, I think that the answer compared to that question is now bobbing in the surf. As the public and the demand better home inspections, that is good for the consumer.
Let’s look at a few of the changes which are emerging. The old standards, used seemingly forever by the better-known home inspector organizations, were written to produce it simple for an inspector to opt out of walking on a roof — even low-sloped and flat roofs.
So, under those rules, if that’s the case inclined, an inspector can pull-up on-site, knowing full well that he or she will not make an effort to walk the roof. Heck, you can find no violations of standards, no explanations required, just tell the clients you may not do roofs. Do these professionals, who will not even consider walking a roof, realize they are home inspectors? If an inspector cannot traverse even an easy single-story roof that is flat, or 3/12 slope with three-tab shingles, should that individual with this attitude be described as a home inspector at all? Sure, some people are frightened of roofs and heights, but hopefully that will not include those people who are working as home inspectors.
Here’s why I believe changes have been in the wind. First, I saw articles online from CREIA. CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association) flat-out states that any inspector who does not normally walk the roof may not be performing a “competent” job. There’s no state inspector licensing in California but CREIA, a non-profit, voluntary association, provides education, training, and support services to the actual estate inspection industry and to the public. They declare that their Standards of Practice have already been acknowledged by the State of California, and are regarded as being the source for Home Inspector Standard of Care by the actual estate and legal communities.
Okay, so they have existed over 30 years and they have credibility. So let’s look at what they tell Californians, consumers, who are looking at hiring a property inspector:
“A detailed roof evaluation is really a standard part of each competent home inspection. Home inspectors typically inspect a roof by walking on the surface, as this is the greatest solution to observe and evaluate all pertinent conditions. There are several conditions that can keep an inspector off the roof (barring these circumstances, a competent inspector should include a walk on the roof) “.The conditions they list include: The top is excessive for access with an ordinary length ladder; The worcester ma roofing co
is really deteriorated that foot traffic would cause further damage; Surface conditions such as snow, ice, moisture, or moss make the roof too slippery; The roofing includes tiles that will break under foot pressure; The sellers have told the inspector to remain off the roof
The intent is clear — the inspector should arrive on-site ready to walk the roof. Any decision, not to be on the roof, must be predicated on conditions bought at the site, not pre-conceived policies that exclude walking the surface of the roof. To put it differently, if one isn’t walking the roof, that ought to be the exception and not the rule. I arrive ready to traverse the roof, sometimes circumstances are in a way that I cannot.
This policy, expecting more at home inspectors, does not stop in California. The Washington State Home Inspector Licensing Advisory Board has put even stronger language in the Standards of Practice with this state. These standards become law in September.
There it is. Again, the intent is clear. The licensed home inspector, by law, should be willing to traverse roofs. Solutions when an inspector cannot and shouldn’t go on the roof. The board is aware of that and you will find “outs” in what the law states, as there must be.
But, if as an over-all practice, an inspector doesn’t walk roofs, he or she is violating the law as written. There have been some members on the board who wanted even stronger language in this regard. It might have mandated full disclosure to clients, when the inspection was booked, that the inspector does not go on roofs.
The underside line: No inspector can walk every roof and some roofs are plain unsafe or could be damaged. But inspectors who’ve a policy of not going on roofs at all, or do not have an open-mind about any of it, are leaving out a significant part of the home inspection. Truth is, it may be hard to detect roof and flashing problems even when you’re on the roof, not to mention if you are on the ground or trying to stand on an incline to acquire a look. You’ve a better chance of inspecting fine details, appurtenances and flashings if you should be actually on the roof.
My view is that, to intentionally and as standard practice, in order to avoid roofs is a minor effort on the area of the inspector — to state the least. The inspector, later, writing in to the report some generic mumbo-jumbo language — called covering your rear — suggesting that the roofer ought to obtain up there and check the roof at a later date is just a poor replacement, in what of CREIA, a competent home inspection in the first place.