Snow coverings

I inspected a home this morning & one of my inspector friends that lives on the same street noticed my foot prints on the roof.

(We have not had much snow or cold this season).

He stated that i am nuts to walk the roof and that he was going to take a picture & submit at our next meeting. We are both active in our inspection chapter.

I only walked the roof as it was a low pitch, by a valley. I would never walk any steeper of a pitch.

I like to be able to see down the chimneys.

So, I would ask if others walk on a snowy roof.


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NO No and nO. :wink:


If you determine that it is a low risk, than you are doing your client a disservice if you don’t walk the roof. Some inspectors NEVER walk a roof. My feeling is you HAVE to walk it if it’s safe (personal decision), to many things go un-noticed if you don’t.



I think it would be a highly risky thing to do if it was not a absolute must, inspection of the house could do without a look down the chimney.

I will refer to the SOP, inspection of the roof can be done from the eave…walking to top is an option left to the inspector…personal protection of the inspector is at the dicretion of the inspector however.

I owned and operated a roofing company, I roofed in all weather, I have removed snow from the roof to install shingles and I know how sure of a footing you can have on a snow covered roof. With this being said I still made certain that fall protection was in place just in case the ‘sure footing’ became a downhill adventure.

OSHA requires slide guards at a 90 degree angle at the eave of the roof on any thing over 4/12 pitch. Below 4/12 a perimeter guard system or monitor must be utilized. I understand that the owner may kill or harm himself on the job as must as he/she may choose to however I suggest that the reason OSHA has these rules in place is because of the statistics, statistics don’t know if your an owner or an employee.

Just be smart and you won’t need to be as careful…I have had to go through 2 employee deaths with friends in the construction business. I don’t want to have to read a post about another.

Yeah, I know, I am just a susceptable to a fall as anyone else so I too will mind my six.

If YOU felt it was safe for you, and was in the best interest of the client, I say walk it. There is so much you can’t see from the ground even with binoculars etc.
If it was icy etc then I won’t.

Also, a tall ladder from an eave MIGHT be sifficient instead of walking. Also using the Spectoscope of similar.
You fellow neighborhood inspector plays the part of the inspector police? Geez, its your decision!

Todays inspection I did not walk the roof tomorrow I will as it is a flat roof . Snow covered I seldom found one I can walk .

Roy Cooke

I am going back to walk one just as soon as the snow melts off of it, I can’t see the roof with 4" of snow on it. I can’t see good enough to evaluate what kind of shape the shingles are in, check for damage etc. Therefore i think I am serving my client better if I go back later this week.

Last week, I had a manufactured home inspection scheduled.
The client asked me if I would walk the roof if there was snow on it?
I asked,
“is there snow on the roof?”
He said yes, there was.
“I said no, that it wouldn’t be safe.”:frowning:
“But could we reschedule, as the next several days are expected to be sunny, and warmer(slightly) enough that I believed the snow would melt/evaporate, etc…?”

and he said sure,:smiley:
so … we scheduled for several days later (they weren’t closing for a month)
and sure enough the roof was clear and dry that day.
Was I happy, and he was too…

Snow covered roof?? The condition of the roof is indiscernable. I would think this could lead to severe damage of the roof system.

No way would I walk on a roof I can’t see…I want to see all of the roof.

I’m like Steven – I’ll inspect it later when it’s safe and sure.

Every inspector has to decide this for themselves. It is a subjective answer based on the conditions.
Many will say no, just like the warning on step ladders, stating" This is not a step!" Guess what it is a step for me, but I don’t recommend others standing on it like that. I trust my own abilities, but not others.
Your experience and abilities are your limiting factor determining your capability to negotiate the snow on the roof. …now if it has turned to ice…forget it! I will come back when it defrosts.

Now that is about ability.
Is it necessary? No. If it is covered with snow I recommend returning for a reinspection when the snow has melted. Can’t inspect what you can’t see. With 10 inspections scheduled this week, it wasn’t practical to schedule all for when the snow might be gone. It is finally melting today, and am I ever happy. I have to go back and look at a few roofs now.

My biggest question is, what benefit is there to walking a snow covered roof? What are you going to see? Unless you clear ALL of the snow off the roof, isn’t it more of a liability to partially walk the roof than it is to disclaim all of it?

The only reason I walk a snow covered roof is to evaluate the chimney.

You cant see the crown from the ground.

I dont normally walk the snowy roofs. This was a very low pitch at a valley & was a fresh snow that was well packed.

If the roof is covered with snow, as it usually is during the winter months in my area (ND and MN) I state in the report that the roof is snow covered and prevents close examination of the roofing and roof structures. So, I don’t walk it and tell the realtor and buyer/seller why I won’t walk it. Most folks understand. So, I always use the eight power binoculars from many angles.
Before becoming an inspector, I’ve seen roofers shingle right over holes in the roof sheathing just as if the hole was not there. Remembering that, I simply do not walk roofs - period. Oh, yeah! One more minor point; my liability insurance says that if I walk roofs, I am not insured. That alone, says a lot to me!!
George Maher
Home - Safe Home, LLC
Fargo, ND

I think of inspecting as if I am being sued. Never have (knock on wood). But I try to inspect consistently. Lets say you checked this one and then I hire you and you don’t walk it and miss something big! What do you think a lawyer will do? Why did you walk on the ‘smiths’ and not the jones’s! Just my point of view.

Also if it is really cold the roofing material can be brittle and crack from you walking on it…

I wish I would have put my post here instead of under exteriors.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to but OH well, do what ya got to do!