Cedar Shake Roof?

I inspected a 18yr old Cedar Shake roof today in Mt. Laurel NJ today and found the shingles to be very soft(several damaged). The install appeared ok 7in exposure and no problems from the attic area. Several of the skylights were leaking(bad flashing) I guess my question is with the amount of shade the home has and the soft shingles for only a 18 yr old home would you recommend cleaning of moss and Alge to avoid moisture from being trapped against shingle or a roofer to re-inspect. Just curious of your thoughts.


Here is one of the Pics.

Cedar roof (Small) (2).JPG

Hi to all,

Chris, that roof is toast and in need of replacement.



that roof is toast and in need of replacement

Gerry you stated this above.

I’m not being smart here, just trying to be constant, should we recommend roofing contractor to make that call.
I’d say and write…“Suspicious areas found throughout roof covering, due to moss & alge buildup could not evaluate roof covering in it entirety, I recommend a roofing specialist in cedar shakes evaluate condition of roof covering”.

It is also recommended not to walk on shakes, especially ones in this condition, so how does one know for sure what maybe wrong? Loose shakes, small holes, etc.

Hey I’m kinda new at this industry and spend alot of time on the message board learning what to say and write. I think I’ve come along way with this statment???

Hi to all,

Brian, your milage may vary based on your experience but due to the following I would state that this roof needs replacement.

  • Current leaks around skylight (reported)
  • Rotten (Soft) shingles
  • Erroded shingles (see pic)
  • Shrunken shingles (see gaps between shingles)
  • Singles with lumps missing (see pic)
  • Roof approaching its intended lifespan, (which has ben shortened due to lack of maintenance)
    I don’t see much point in getting “further evaluation” what is needed are quotes for replacement.



If the roof is shot, I recommend replacement. No need to have another person come out at an additional expense to your client when something is obvious. That is what they hire us for. Here is an example. Shingles were saturated, worn and would crumble in your hand. Roof must be replaced.

The roof is toast, replace it…whoops did someone also say that…

All the posts are correct, 18 years on a wood roof makes it look rustic but from the description you give I suspect the homeowner never had it cleaned and treated in 18 years to do so now is senseless. Not a bad thing to try to learn, the maint. schedule of a wood roof, what it was oiled or treated with and how often.

Make notes of the condition, and specific findings, the age too (it’s relevant), I believe a statement referring to your opinion of the roof being toast is a professional opinion however for a more detailed exam seek the specialist. I would expect a buyer to want to know for certain and also care to know what it will cost to replace the roof, in this case on trip by a roofing contractor could take care of both items and since there is an oppurtunity to sell a new roof the roofing pro may not charge. (yes I completely understand that a roofer might tell you a good roof was bad just to sell a roof but I suspect in a case such as this everyone would know the difference)

Thank You for all you honest comments. Iam glad I told the buyer I need to do more research on the roof before making a recommendation!!! We do not see many Cedar roofs here in central NJ.

Thanks again.

Christopher Rich

While they are replaceing the roof. Have them install a kickout diverter!


Hey Gerry I give up:) One tells me that we aren’t specialists, and we’re just generalists. One says just defer when see a problem, another says not to come up with a final conclusion because they may get a contractor that comes in and contradictes what you might have stated. I’m really confused with everything, I guess if I just do my job to the best of my abilities and with honesty, then all I can be sure of is that I did or said the right thing.


There are 2 philosophies in play here, mine is that I am a property specialist employed to tell clients what is wrong with the property (what needs fixing), what is about to go wrong with the property (and needs budgeting for), and what poses a safety issue.

The generalist approach is to define areas that may or may not need inspection/evaluation/repairs/maintenance above and beyond the skill level of the inspector.

I do sometimes recommend further evaluation, for example if the property has structural issues, or if there are that many small electrical issues that I am not prepared to spend all day writing a punch list for an electrician, or if I am looking at a system that I am not familiar with.

The roof that started this thread out clearly needs replacing, period. if it was borderline or just had areas that needed repair then I might have suggested a more thorough evaluation by a roofing contractor, but I doubt it.



adding to Gerry’s comments.

if you found a water heater that was in very bad shape, ie, very rusty, leaking, etc, would you still just defer it to a plumber?

or maybe an old rusty furnace that had visible holes in the heat exchanger?

If you KNOW replacement is the only solution, then why not say so?

Of course, deferring is always an option if you don’t feel comfortable making the call.

In our area we have to really watch out for **pine **shingles…they will rot out in about 15 years tops compared to cedar which usually last 25 to 35 years in our climate (dry). I usually take a utility knife and cut a slices off the side just to be sure…love the cedar smell! Most of our Shakes are 3/4 to 1" thick at the ends and come in many different grades. You pay for what you get. If you can’t tell the difference between pine and cedar because of age, just cut of a slice and run it under hot water…then the cedar smell really comes out.

I’m not a licensed roofing contractor, and there is no licensing for home inspectors in the State of California, so I have to defer the call to a licensed roofing contractor. By the mere authority of licensing, the State of California considers the licensed roofing contractor to be more knowledgeable than me, and practicing as a roofing contractor without a license can be subject to severe civil or criminal penalties. So I must defer to further evaluation by the licensed roofing contractor.

Ditto for the water heater–plumbers are licensed by the State of California, and practicing as a plumber without a license can be subject to severe civil or criminal penalties.

Ditto with electricians, chimney sweeps, engineers, and others. So if there is licensing in another profession, then I have to very much remain a generalist and defer to further evaluation by those licensed professionals. Practicing in any profession without the appropriate license can be subject to severe civil or criminal penalties. That’s why I desire licensing for home inspectors in California. Licensing will also allow me to raise my prices on all my inspection types.

The Family Doctor/Surgeon analogy comes in very handy in these circumstances, providing a real-world example that everyone can understand.

So as the State of California believes, just noting the condition of something does not give me the right to say what needs to be done about that condition. So I have to be very careful how I word my reports. That’s why I spend so much time and effort educating my Clients through my SOLUTIONS](http://www.abouthomes.info/files/NACHI/Solutions1.pdf) Internet-based, educational, interactive report system. Knowledge is power. Give Clients the knowledge, and they’ll be able to make their own decisions.

This what I was talking about Gerry, I value what Russ says and forget his standards are different out there than here. I built homes for 13 years and HVAC for 4 years prior to wanting to be a HI. I feel I have the experience yet have no experience on all the legality that goes with doing a home inspection. This is way I’m on the board all the time, trying to figure out what the heck to say or write. I can see if a roof or water heater is in need of replacement, and I’d feel very comfortable calling it out, I just thought that was a good thing to do because of the suggestions stated here. I guess I’ll take my chances with a law suit for doing what I tended for good.

***There are 2 philosophies in play here, mine is that I am a property specialist employed to tell clients what is wrong with the property (what needs fixing), what is about to go wrong with the property (and needs budgeting for), and what poses a safety issue.
***This is exsactly what I desire to be. And the opportunity to share my experiences with others, not being afraid all the time of LAW SUITS. Thanks Gerry

Being charged with civil or criminal penalties for practicing a profession without a license is not a lawsuit. A lawsuit involves one person against another, one entity against another, one’s attorneys against another’s attorneys. In civil and criminal actions, it is the City against me, or the County against me, or the State against me, or the United States against me. I don’t have the money to hire attorneys to fight the City, County, State, or King George II, so I’m going to do everything I can to stay in their good graces. Ergo, when my attorneys and insurance providers determine that saying something that I would like to say could be considered intrusion into those licensed professions, i.e., practicing in those licensed professions without having a licensed, then I’m not going to say that certain thing, regardless of my knowledge, experience, etc.

Hi to all,

Russel, Iwould hate to think that you construed my comment as “having a dig” at you or anyone else. I am the first to recognize that different areas require that our business be conducted in different ways.

My point is that in some cases we are going off the deep end of common sense, ie if the roof is leaking it does not require evaluation, it requires repair/replacement. If any home inspector works in an area where common sense is not allowed to prevail, or where by stating the obvious could be construed as illegal then I feel sorry for both the inspector and their clients in that area.



I did not, so I’ll go back and edit my immediately preceding post.