Professional: Must walk roof?

I was reading an article about HomeDepot contractors inspecting roofs without stepping on them, part of a news report about HD customers complaining about subcontractors and HD.

This is a quote from the president of the Roofing Contractors Association of Southern California, “…a roofer can’t adequately evaluate a roof without stepping foot on it…”

Any comments?


I completely agree, and I will go so far as to say the same for a home inspector - even though we are not required to walk the roof.

Ditto Ditto

I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I thought there was a major item I might have missed from not walking a “Safe Roof to walk” in my personal opinion.

I agree, if it’s safe, you gotta get up there and take a look. If you don’t walk it, document it as to your reasons for not doing so, and explain to the client your reasons.

You will find plenty of problems on tile roofs. Many roofers will leave scrap pieces of tiles in the hidden valleys thinking that no one will ever climb up on a tile roof. WRONG!

Learn how to walk on a roof, especially tile roofs. There’s a way where you minimize the risk of breaking tiles.

Before you walk on any roof, 1st check out the attic to see if the roof structure is capable of supporting your weight. Always try and walk the roof if it’s safe to.

There are two types of roof coverings here that I will not step foot upon. Tile roofs are one because at 250 lbs. the cracking sound underfoot makes my wallet quiver. I know how to walk them, and I also know how to misstep. Metal roofs are the other, because I remember sliding down one at one time, and that last drop off is a doozy.

On a roof I won’t walk, I get a ladder at the eaves on each side of the roof.

Otherwise, If I can get on it I do. I have found many, many defects on roof coverings, chimneys, flashings, etc. over the years that I would not have been able to find otherwise.

Must you walk them? No. Is it prudent? If your competent to do so, and it won’t damage the surface, yes.

I agree with Blaine, My narrow 220 even gets those tiles cracking…
If you walk on a tile roof of a brand new home, the warranty is voided in CA.

I have done many years of contract work and no matter how careful I was when walking the roof, sometimes they break…

But as a home inspector, “If you have no soul” you can call out all the tiles you break…

Ditto with all the above.

But in my case I will push it to 8/12 pitch unless it is covered with snow.

I only weigh 165# , bounce like a frog and sting like a bee. Man that brings back memories for some odd reason. ha. ha.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :wink:

your middle name must be “cat” to walk a 8/12 without hesitation. any special shoes you pull out of the bag for this pitch?

I also rope around the closet projection on the roof and run like hell.
Although my age is slowing me down I really need Ms. Margurita or should to keep doing it. ha. ha.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :wink:

Ditto, exept 190lbs. instead of 250:mrgreen:

I have cracked cement tiles twice and will not walk them anymore. = $375 OUCH:shock:
I can see most things from the eves and anything I cannot see gets reported and deffered. CYA:)

There are cases were I only use binocks , but those are useually second story tile roofs. I recomend 8X50’s with a glare coating.

I reccomend these
The price will scare you, but I had an older version for a different purpose in an earlier life. In other words I already had a set. Excellent optics though.

I have a pair of size 9 cougars paws for sale - worn 1 time with extra soles for STEEP ROOFS.

We walk what we need to and don’t walk the rest.

If you stop and think about the times you can’t walk a roof safely its probably in my area about 50/50.

It rained today; its tile or slate and over 8/12; it would take a 28’ - 32’ ladder to reach the eaves; its 95-100 degrees and the comp roof is in melt-down; its old BRITTLE wood shake/wood shingle and every step breaks 2 more shingles; its icy or snow covered; its too steep (over 8/12) and WAY UP in the air (long drop); its 8:30 AM and the roof is wet with condensation.

Never had a client tell me we missed roof defects. Have had whiny clients or other inspectors tell me that they read an article and YOU can’t inspect a roof without walking it. I’ve always told them I’m glad to know that - I wish I’d known that 28 yrs ago when I started doing this.

I’ve got some 10x50’s coated, and they work quite well from the ground in most cases, and certainly from the eaves off a ladder.

I’m 260 & 53yrs., but that’s irrelevent as far as I’m concerned. I, my wife and my Ins. Agt. are all happy I don’t walk roofs, other than Commercial/Industrial roofs, and not all of them.

I’ve discussed at length with Mfg. Reps. and Prof. Roofers, using OC, JM, Cert., Metal, Concrete, Wood, Elasto, etc.
They all have told me, that it is always best to avoid walking any roof, unless there is an obvious problem(s) that would not be aggravated by walking on it. They all say that everytime you walk a roof, you stand to do more harm than good. The possible damage outweighs the benefit of close up knowledge. They recommend investigating from the eaves or inside attic areas, before any consideration of walking a roof.

I always look close with Binoculars and recommend further investigation if I see something, anything that looks suspicious.

And, if a leak occurs, they can’t blame me for walking the roof, causing damage. I hate finger pointing, playing the blame game, and no possible way of winning in Court.

Will you guys walk on a wood shake roof covering? If its been raining, I can’t walk them, way too slippery. Even with just a little fresh dew in the morning, they are too slick. But I also heard from a roofer that I would almost certainly damage the wood shakes if I walk them. Has anybody else heard this from the roofing trade or roofing suppliers, that we shouldn’t be walking wood shake roofs to avoid damaging them?

I guess the question I would have with this (and remember, I am one of those who doesn’t like the “further evaluation” line except in unusual circumstances) is that if you are there, and see something suspicious, why wouldn’t you provide further evaluation of the item in question yourself?

There are certainly many reasons not to walk a roof. The thought always creeps into my head though at an inspection, “am I providing the most thorough evaluation of this component that I can reasonably give my client?” The roof is a component that if walked, is fully visible, the attic under that same roof is not always fully visible.

Not trying to get anyone to walk a roof who doesn’t feel it’s necessary, or certainly not for anyone uncomfortable, just trying to explain the reason I walk every roof I can.

I like to walk roofs whenever safe and accessible. It looks good to the clients and I can take better pictures. However, I have yet to find anything walking the roof that I wouldn’t find from the eaves or with binoculars and my high zoom camera, excluding chimney flues (which I defer no matter what anyways).

I’m wondering how some of you access 2 story gable roofs with loose gutters at the eaves (way too common) and no reliable side wall access (usually because there are parallel minor gable roofs on the sides that are around 8 feet below the main roof surface). I find myself inspecting them from detached garage roofs and from the top of an 8 foot A-frame ladder at least 10 feet away.


Fair comments, and good points.

I just think that (1) I’m not a Roofing Expert and really not capable of giving expert advice. If it’s that obvious, I think it can be seen from the ground, eaves, etc. and I’d probably “Defer” anyway and (2) my investigation with Roofers, Manuf’s, etc. all have recommended avoiding walking the roof, except as a last resort, even if you are comfortable walking it. The damage you may/probably cause walking it, outways the beneifit to the Client.

Apparently, there are ways to approach getting on the roof and walking it, and exiting. Now I can only speculate that there is some truth to that statement, I can’t see exposing my Client or me to Liability, before or after the closing, assuming the sale closes.

I’m not particularly comfortable walking any roof, but I have walked them before, and now I’m wondering if I have caused any damage that might not have been, had I not walked that roof.

I have been lucky so far, my Clients say they understand and agree with me, and as far as I know, I haven’t lost a job because of my position. I always discuss this and other procedures with my Clients, before I even schedule the H/I.

It works for me.

I would agree. That’s why they have appropriate insurance.

I and my employees, on the other hand, are not licensed roofing contractors (roofing contractors are licensed in California), so I cannot obtain appropriate insurance for my employees and me (life, AD&D, workers’ comp) that allows us to walk on roofs. Consequently, we don’t.

There apparently are few home inspectors here in San Diego anymore who walk on roofs, especially the newbies who carry insurance. There still are some oldies who walk on roofs, but they are falling (some literally) by the wayside.

I am quite forthright in telling my Clients several times what I do and what I don’t do, what I can do and what I cannot do, and, when it comes to personal safety and property damage, what I will do and what I will not do. I’ve been in business since October 15, 2001, and have never had a complaint relating to a roof issue. Ladders in appropriate locations, binoculars (75x), and zoom cameras can do the job perfectly well. And we’re never afraid of driving or walking around the neighborhood to get better views, even to the point of knocking on someone’s door and asking if we can look at the roof of the house below them from their backyard. Never a problem.

My Clients have succeeded in getting brand new roofs ($57,000 was the tops for a new blue tile roof on 4,300 SF) to major repairs to minor repairs to escrow credits or reduction in prices.

The most important thing to do in an industry such as ours is to manage your Clients’ expectations. That means to communicate with them, in plain English that they can understand (or another language if they are an ESL Client).

So I’m following in some good footsteps.

Excellent advice.

I’m not one of those inspectors who has to find absolutely every defect in something. I believe that trying to do so opens one up to additional liability. Considering that licensed plumbers make mistakes, as do licensed electricians, and the fact that I am a generalist and not licensed in anything other than operating a business, yet have to know plumbing, electricity, roofing, chimneys, structure, etc., I’m just not even going to attempt to be an expert at everything. So by managing my Clients’ expectations, they know what to expect from me. Quite often, to break the ice and manage my Clients’ expectations, I’ll tell them first off, “I’m a generalist. I’m not an expert in anything nor am I licensed in anything. What that means to you is that I know something about everything but everything about nothing.” That gets a chuckle from them, and that chuckle indicates to me that they heard me and understood me.

I think every roof I’ve ever inspected had a problem visible from the ground while driving by the property, from the top of the ladder, with binoculars, or from another vantage point somewhere in the neighborhood. All I have to do is find one defect and at that point I don’t really need to go any further, although I will to see how much roof area (and defects) I can see from the ground. I always provide my Clients with an estimate of how much of the roof area I was able to see. So my report verbiage might be something like this: