Professional: Must walk roof?

Licensed roofing contractors in my area recommend that the only people who should be walking on roofs are other licensed roofing contractors. I take them at their word; after all, they are experts in the State of California by virtue of their licensing and, thus, now more than me. I’m just a yo-yo. Consequently I don’t walk on roofs.

Mainly because I am not a licensed roofing contractor. I only recommend “further evaluation” when it requires a licensed professional from another industry. I believe that someone who is licensed should never rely on the work of someone who is not licensed. Therefore, “further evaluation” by the licensed professional would involve verifying the accuracy of my statements and, if verified, determining different methods of repair or replacement with different associated costs, of course, and then providing those choices to the Client. Since that licensed professional is an expert in his industry, and I am not, he certainly might find additional problems that I, due to my lack of expertise, could not. That is why it is very important to recommend further evaluation by a licensed [insert name of professional] BEFORE CLOSE OF ESCROW.

Definitely not true in my neck of the woods.

In fairness to my position, I was a licensed roofing contractor in Texas for many years, working along the Gulf Coast where high winds from hurricanes sometimes (sometimes?) must be dealt with. So although I have the expertise with roofing, including walking on tile roofs, wood roofs, etc., I’m not a licensed roofing contractor in the State of California. Therefore, according to my attorneys and various insurance providers, I must defer “further evaluation” to those to whom the State of California thinks are more qualified. Notwithstanding any expertise I might have, if I start practicing that expertise without appropriate licensing, I have no insurance and there can be severe civil penalties involved. Just not going there.

Now if I can ever get my state legislators to sponsor some good home inspector licensing, then I can raise my rates and use all this knowledge that I have in my head, in my library, and at About Homes to a much greater extent.

Ain’t it fun doing that? My favorite experience was viewing the north side of the main roof from the neighboor’s garage roof. It was the only practical way because all the houses in the area were tightly spaced and the only other unobstructed vantage point was from the street almost a 100 yards away. The gutters, fascia and wood siding were shot, no way was I gonna rest my 21 foot extension ladder against them. I really lucked out that the neighbor was so fascinated with the inspection (he was outside watching the inspection) that he gladly let me use his garage roof. Hopefully he’s held onto my business card and will call me when he’s moving.:slight_smile:

That philosophy is what got me in this business. Too many HI’s around here that give you jargon-laden checklists and a light-speed summary that is anything but educational. I’ve impressed all of my “novice” clients by being realistic with them about issues and educating them on things when they aren’t sure about things. My clients usually get stuff fixed the right way the first time around because they actually understand what is wrong, why it is wrong and how it can be fixed or lived with. I’ve begun my push to realtor offices and this is the biggest thing that seems to impress them; I won’t overwhelm their clients. Hopefully things will be picking up very soon with these newly forged positive relationships and my new optimized marketing materials.:slight_smile:

I only walk roofs that I feel safe on, generally that is single story less than 6/12 pitch. Most shingles here are comp. If questioned I tell clients I do not make this determination until I see the roof personally.

I have in the past had that terrible experience of sliding down a roof that was too steep that I knew I should not try and get on and luckily caught the ladder.

It will NEVER happen again, No inspection fee is worth risking my health/life or my time with my wife and kids.

I agree with those who have stated that most of the time you can identify defects from the gruond with the proper equipment as well as walking the roof. Sometimes areas are not visible. I note such and move on. Occasionaly there are designs that there are unviewable areas that I really would like to see and cannot. Unfortunately that is life and I properly note it and recommend further or annual review if the situation warrants.

I have lost a couple inspections over the years when the client discovered I was not going to repel down the roof for them. I gladly told them good luck and went on my way. My health/life is worth infinately more to me and if someone else is willing to risk theirs - that is up to them. Those seem to be the exception and most of my cilent have no issues with my proceedure.

How do you who don’t walk roofs, and check them from the ground with binoculars check a flat roof? Espcially one with a 2 foot parapet wall.

“I have cracked cement tiles twice and will not walk them anymore”

Welcome to the club. I cracked two tiles today. Will I pay for them - no. The roof I inspected today had approximately 25 percent of the tiles loose and some slipping. Had I not walked the roof I never would have known. By the way - this is a 4 year old roof. Most of the damage probably came from Hurricane Wilma. Someone when up there and trie to do a cheapo repair job. I do not want to get into an argument with Russell, but, to me, not walking the roof is a dis-service to my client, and I will continue to do so.

I find solar panel installers and repairpersons are often offenders as well.

Like many of you, I walk roofs that are safe to walk. In Illinois, we are licensed and are required to walk a roof, if accessible from a window or door onto the roof. If we do not walk the roof, we are to enter the info in the report why we did not walk the roof. Not a problem with this type of requirement.

I have had only one complaint from a client and he let me and everybody else know about it on Service Magic. I could see problems from the ground with binocs and from the eave with a ladder. (I was called after he contacted two roofing companies to check his roof, both telling him the same thing. He needed the west side of the roof re-installed many loose shingles in a 10 x 4 area, the reveal was not wide enough per best standards, and the valleys were installed incorrectly.)

He had purchased the home within the last six months, without a home inspection. I believe I was there to make the determination if the roofing guys were telling him the truth and to tell him to fix it. When I told him what I found, same thing as the roofers, he said thanks, paid the bill and I think that’s it. I even forwarded the phone number of a roofing company that had taught a great class at our Chicago NACHI chapter meeting three days prior to offer yet another option. His rating for me was that I would only look at things from the ladder as I too lazy to walk the roof, didn’t know my stuff, and was pricey.

To make a long story longer, he agreed to the price prior to my arrival. I even stated since I didn’t walk the roof, I’d knock off some money, which he refused. (I did walk the roof after discussion with him and found exactly what the roofing companies found as mentioned prior in this post. Still offering him the chance at a lower fee.). Remember, I told him the same problems, without knowing what the roofers had stated. ( I did check the attic, which the roofers did not do, and could not find any water intrusion, which he liked that idea. Of course no mention from him in his eval.)

Oh well, what’s an inspector to do. I’ll chalk this one up as experience and will improve upon my inspections and deliver on my promises.

Blaine - Five ways:

(a) its low enough my 17’ Little Giant gets me to it;
(b) I’ve been told its tall and I SPECIALLY bring my 28’ Werner;
© My 28’ Werner won’t get to the warehouse roof - I have their forklift or highloader raise me to the roof;
(d) they don’t have a lift - they can hire a cherry picker to get me onto the roof and they can pay for it; OR
(e) they can call a roofer

(f) 10 years ago the 6th way was to throw the rope over the roof corner, anchor it to my truck winch and walk/pull myself up - too hard anymore.

Up to 8/12 pitch. Never on metal, tile, slate or shake. 200lbs at age 64, been walking roofs and top plates much of my life. Don’t have a death wish. Do have a desire to do the best possible job for my clients. If it can be walked, I will.

Don’t see many flat roofs around here. One in three years on a townhome. Brand new. As flat is less than 6/12, I had no problem getting on this one. Had I been unable to reach it with my ladder, I would have noted it and regretably moved on.

Beautiful! You deserve a margarita.

You definitely are on my “when we meet let’s sit down and have a margarita together” list.

Well, I check roofs from the ground, with ladders, and with binoculars. Note the commas in there, meaning I’ll use three different methods to check a roof.

For single stories, I set my ladder up just like for any other roof.

For second stories, I’ve always been able to find a second-story patio and/or another vantage point from a neighborhing yard, a hillside, etc.

The flat roofs are the easiest to inspect because there aren’t any hidden locations.

Also in my climate, a standard recommendation in my report for flat roofs is that, notwithstanding anything I say in my report, they should have the roof inspected by a licensed roofing contractor before close of escrow. I educate them about why, and I educate them about roofs in San Diego again in the special roof section of my [Interactive Report System]( for NACHI members.pdf).

That’s great. I don’t think anyone is telling you not to walk a roof. I think we non-walkers are explaining why we don’t walk roofs.

Considering all the licensed roofing contractors who get injured and killed each year from falling off roofs, and me not being a licensed roofing contractor, I think it is more likely to happen to me than it is to them. So if it happens to them too often for my comfort level, and for the comfort level of my life insurance and AD&D insurance, then I simply am not going to do it.

You can do virtually anything within the law if one manages one’s Clients’ expectations. It’s when one fails to manage those expectations that one gets oneself into trouble.

So I have no problem with anyone walking on roofs. I don’t as a home inspector, and never will as long as home inspectors are not licensed in this state and as long as my life insurance and AD&D insurance excludes such activity, even as part of my profession since I’m in an unlicensed profession where parts of my profession fall under the purview of licensed professions in the State of California.

Cable installers and “professional Holiday light installers” are the worst around here.

Fall once and I promise you won’t want to fall again. Heck, if you’ve never fallen, you should never want to do it once.

Remember what the real risk is, it is not getting sued or having to pay a little money, it is getting seriously injured. If that happens, a thing called perspective happens.

If we have to walk, which I will do only if it is a flat roof, a one story, and completely safe, try to keep a perspective before it finds you. The most expensive that could happen is to not be able to inspect another home.

I only walk on the roofs that are easily accessible, like bungalows or bi-levels with an attached garage for ease of getting from one level to another. First of all, heights just aren’t my bag. They cause a small wet spot to appear in my jeans in the crotch area:shock: If the roof is wet/frosty/snow covered, or if it’s windy…not a chance. I also found I can determine shingle age and condition just as good or better by studying the shingle from the eave without having to transfer from ladder to roof which is the most danger-est part, I feel. After all my eyes are only inches from the shingle when at the eave, verses 5-6’ away if your standing on top of the shingles.

I also make up for it by checking out the attic more thoroughly to compensate for my not walking the roof. The attic can tell you just as much or more by way of staining etc. Every try and find a leak in a roof from the outside? Way easier if you check the attic first, then go up and try an pin point the spot. A good pair of binoculars (15 power) also comes in handy for those 2 story/ high pitch roofs. It’s also possible to get a pretty good look on some 2 story homes through a window, depending on the style/layout of the home.

If I was comfortable walking roofs, I would do it. BUT I’m not,…and I know my limitations.:wink: