Built Up Roof Narrative

I ran across my first residential Built-up Roof that was covered with gravel. It was a porch roof section approx 25’ x 10’. The roof had parapet walls with opening to allow water to escape to a gutter. What type of narrative do you guys use? Without knowing the roof history, type of construction, number of plys and not able to see the surface condition I disclaimed it and differed to contact a licensed roof contractor.


Low Slope Roof (Built Up)

  • Built up roofing system. (Asphalt / Slag)
  • Surfaces are not visible to inspect.
  • Recommend further review by Qualified / Licensed Roofing Contractor prior to closing.

** Limitations.**
Roofing system;Low slope BUR roof. ( tar and gravel )
Normal life expectancy for commercial BUR roofing is 12 to 15 years.
Reason ( not required by SOP ), or ( no access. 32 foot ladder to short )
The roofing system was not inspected.
Recommend a licensed Roofing contractor do an evaluation.

You can give a quck report on the Kick-out flashing if you used a high zoom camera. Copings , parapet
Why did not not walk the roof?

Never walk a roof where the surface is not visible
or unknown

if you do
you are (arguably) obligated to pay
for subsequent leaks…

I am missing the point Mr.Hagarty.
Commercial inspection differs? I walked 50 commercail roofs one year doing estamations for my boss when I was roofing years ago…
Not visible. Further explanation please.

Thank you.

If the property is for sale
and the roof is not visibly leaking…
A built up roof where the waterproof surface is not visible

and you walk the surface (Built up / slag)
and it subsequently leaks…

You are now in the position
to pay
due to damage caused

"you walked a roof
of indeterminate age and condition
and caused damage
that resulted
in water intrusion
and interior damage of finish materials."

Well put, Joe. It’s kind of like a haiku. Makes me want to walk the earth with nothing but the cloths on my back and get in roofing adventures. Kind of like a roofing Caine from Kung Fu,

So Joe, do you disclaim all built up roofs in which the upper surface of the asphalt layer is covered with gravel, stone, etc., which of course, is many of them? Or do you just not walk them, but still offer comments on their condition?

had there not been prior ceiling damage walking this roof surface could have been disastrous

no evidence of this fire damage from top surface

best to be cautious if you can’t preview the underside before getting on any type roof surface

see the probe hole through the decking char

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Joe that makes no sense to me. Not here to argue with anyone.
We all will gain our own way of reporting.
I can address all roofing situations with a firm commitment to me and my client that I will not cause penetrations.
over 15 years of BUR, shingle and the rest of that back breaking hotter then hell , mindless men job to know when to walk on and where to walk on the decking.
If I suspect any irregularities I avoid the deck and shot from a ladder or higher elevation.
I have laid every system out there up to date in Quebec. With cold elastomers roofing membranes, 2 step system 2 years ago. Just to see how it works.
Does every one approach it that way Mr.Hagarty?

Barry, obviously you wouldn’t cut a view hole for each roof, but there didn’t seem to be much soot damage on the ceiling. Was the damage obvious on the roof?

no evidence of this fire damage from top surface ;~))

Why are we deferring the inspection to the roofer?

Did I miss that there was something significantly deficient there?

If you can’t inspect a flat roof, you shouldn’t be inspecting a building with a flat roof!

If you are going to inspect and you don’t know how to do it, you should be sub-contracting that in with the inspection. Not doing half a job and require others to finish “Your” inspection.

How do any of you inspect a pitched roof, a metal roof, a tile roof?
They all have non-visible components. They all potentially leak.

You do what you can do to inspect it. Record what you saw. Your done.
That is the limitations of a “Home Inspection”. It is not a guarantee. It is not a roof inspection. It’s a Home Inspection. You are doing a lot of people a disservice calling for another inspection to be done if there is nothing evident that appears wrong.

In the commercial inspection world, a whole team of sub-contracting inspectors, contractors, engineers, architects work on the inspection together. There is no deferring. You get the job, you contract it out if you can’t do it all.

But it’s so easy to type in a deferment and let the seller or buyer eat the extra unexpected cost…

and you wonder why Realtors are such butt holes towards inspectors.

As far as I am concerned, this is the same as low-balling!
You get the job cheap. You can’t inspect half of the stuff and cause additional expense to others when “everything” could have been done at once, right, and cheaper than your way.

I know, I’m going to get “you’d be exceeding the SOP”.
Well, deferring a flat roof because it is “flat” is not in the SOP. As a matter of fact, I don’t know there is anything about deferring in the SOP.

2.1.** Roof**
I. The inspector shall inspect from ground level or eaves:
[li]the roof covering;[/li][li]the gutters;[/li][li]the downspouts;[/li][li]the vents, flashings, skylights, chimney and other roof penetrations; and[/li][li]the general structure of the roof from the readily accessible panels, doors or stairs.[/li][/LIST]II. The inspector is not required to:
[li]walk on any pitched roof surface.[/li][li]predict the service life expectancy.[/li][li]inspect underground downspout divert drainage pipes.[/li][li]remove snow, ice, debris or other conditions that prohibit the observation of the roof surfaces.[/li][li]move insulation.[/li][li]inspect antennae, lightning arresters, de-icing equipment, or similar attachments.[/li][li]walk on any roof areas that appear, in the opinion of the inspector, to be unsafe.[/li][li]walk on any roof areas if it might, in the opinion of the inspector, cause damage.[/li][li]perform a water test.[/li][li]warrant or certify the roof.[/li][li]confirm proper fastening.[/li][/LIST]
The sole reason I got in this business and it took off like a wild fire was because Realtors were sick of things being differed. It was costing them money, for no good reason and they were tired of it.

There are hundreds of requests here about “how do I talk with Realtors, how do I sell clients, how can I make more money”? Getting the job “done” is a start.

Maybe my clients are not the same as yours. I don’t know.
But my referral calls never ask how much this will cost. They just wait till I get around to finding what their wants and needs are and then my price which is set to their expectations.

If you don’t want in on this business plan, just do your job in accordance with the SOP and leave it at that and quit costing your clients money just to cover your butt.

John, I am not directing this at you!
You have a good question that needs answered. It’s just that the “general answer” around here is to defer it. Though this is the easy way out, we make no money and we get no referrals. We piss people off and cost them money without cause.

I have a hard time deferring something to the same people that made it that way in the first place! Don’t you?
Not all the screw-up’s are homeowner repairs…

In all reality, what is a roofer going to do that you can’t do, except sell the owner a new roof that is not necessary because is shows signs of wear?

This is not the same as getting a contractor to fix something that is broke.

No roofer here has done a slag roof
in over 30 years…
That is a clue to age and condition

There is one community here
over 30 years
where hot slag roofs are still performing without leaks
(I know the roofer that installed them)

When the roof has exceded
life expectancy,

review of the (hidden)
surface is required prior to closing (by report)…

a 30 year old Asphalt / Slag roof
does not have a visible surface…
It would have also surpassed
the design life expectancy
by 15 years
and how would you report?

That it is as good as the day installed?

I still see the odd Patio Cover here Joseph, but not very often.
The heat just kills them.


Anyone have photos of SLAG ROOFING.
Would love to add it to my roofing files.

We had a system that is obsolete NOW called " PITCH ROOFING " BUT A slag roof is???:shock:
**Pitch **would come in 45 gallon drums.
They would be mounted atop a pitch horse sideways and torches heated the exterior of the drum to 425-50 f.
Dam I forget the temperature of pitch, after was asphalt in 3 grades.
Asphalt is heated to 500f . I still hear the foreman screaming HOTTER HOTTER.
Asphalt roofing material loses it viscountcy above 525f and the roofing products life is shortened.IE; so does the roof RIGHT!!!
You tell the 359 lb half crazy foreman that as the kettle is on fire and is running 655-700f, he is still yelling Hotter Hotter.:shock::shock::shock::shock:
We are 22 stories high and a sheet of 5/8 ply just blew off the roof…,opps ( some one below is going to die ) all true I swear.
Now you see why I left the trade. But only after a stomach full of grief and MY alcoholism certification as its reminder.
Class c alcoholic. Worked but drank.

When you did a rip off PITCH roof, the smallest of particle in you eye would or might send you home.
Your eyes would swell like grapefruits. ( imagine your lung tissue )
I would cough out blood and my doctor told me its many times to leave the trade. I did 10 more years.
I am cross trained and thank God for that.
ROOFING was and still is a hard trade for select men.
Easiest of trade certifications when I was young.
I started i9n 75 but in 1976 union came in with the PQ. WOW.
2000 hours to be certified roofer and the test had 40 questions. They could be answered with the use of a translator. Still today trades do not need to be written. Verbal and site assessment.
Paid $8.35 in 1976. I was 135 lbs.
Easiest in hours for certifications, demolition, roofing, cement finishing,rough carpentry, finishing carpentry, masonry, plumbing , then electrician.
Things have changed and so have I thank God Our Father.:slight_smile:

If you walk the roofs parameter you will be fine.:slight_smile: or just look from the ladder height. and yes if you want mark it under limitations.:eek:

True words…great post!!

Now why would I do that?
Are you just been a sarcastic old fool? :wink:

Yes, it could be beyond its life expectancy. However life expectancy, as well as deferring inspection duties to another person is not a significant deficiency requiring reporting according to the standards of practice (See item B above).

As I stated in my reply; I observe, evaluate and report what I see.
The primary reason for a roof is to keep the rain out of the house. If it is doing this today, I really could care less about what it’s going to do tomorrow.
Not to say that I’m not going to advise the client that the roof is older than we expect it to perform. I will not however call in one of the most un-trusted contractors in existence to evaluate this roof unless I have something specifically for them to do (beyond looking at an old roof that is still functioning so that I am not professionally responsible or liable for making a bad, uneducated and unprofessional call).

Did you ever thing that the Mr. Hagarty might be afraid of hightrs.
He can inspect any way he wants.
WOW all this for roofing.:roll: