Too picky? Don’t know think so

Newer inspector here. Every roof I’m on, I see exposed or siliconed fasteners on vent pipe flashing (and frankly most roof penetrations). I document it every time and write it up. My question: Based on the frequency I see this, am I being too picky? I write it A LOT. Not talking about fasteners just being in poor condition.

Exposed, write them up. Already caulked, no.
We call them out almost daily around here, and the roofers that come in to inspect for the roof certs write them up daily as well.
Most roofers in our area will go caulk everything on a roof for $150-300.

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Be sure you’re not writing up ones with neoprene washers as exposed. You sometimes have to get down pretty close to see them. Keep in mind also, even when exposed, they are very unlikely to leak.

When I started 22 years ago my business partner who had been in it 20+ years gave me some great advice that I still carry with me and think of often. Ask yourself, “How bad is this going to burn me?” As in, how would it cost to fix? If I let some exposed nails on the roof go and get called on it I guess I’ll get in my truck with a tube of caulking and go fix it. A foundation wall with a crack that could go either way? You’d sure better write that one up.

I also tend to “grade on a curve”. Meaning, I’m much more likely to skip the exposed roof fasteners (on an otherwise fine roof) if the house is a POS with tons of other issues. I don’t want to convolute the big problems and issues with some minor stuff. I want to give my buyers the most important information to help them make a decision. I’m sure there are some that disagree with this but that’s the beauty of this profession. You are free to do it as you like. I’ve often said only two things matter: That your phone is ringing with new business. That your phone isn’t ringing with angry buyers and their lawyers from past business.


When I saw stuff like this, I looked for damage or adverse conditions directly associated with it. You are not a Home Improvement Professional, like our friend on TV from the Great White North. Look at your SOP. It tells you what to do. You are allowed to do more, but you don’t have to just because everyone else is doing it.

Consider your Inspection Report as a Marketing Tool. Give your client what they need to make an informed decision to purchase. They don’t need to know a tree may fall on the roof in a tornado. Everyone has that same potential situation. There are also two Realtors and a Seller involved, indirectly from you. Are you doing your client any favors creating snags and conflicts in the purchase process, which is a negotiation process. Get everyone pissed off and there won’t be any negotiation to be had…

All this over exposed nails that abound throughout the neighborhood without issue? It is you job to be sure these nails are not an issue (not just defer to a roofer to do what you can do).

You want to do a good job, but a good job is not how many pages you can fill in your report. Your thinking you write a lot. How much of that stuff is helping anyone? You don’t get paid by the page. It keeps you from doing other jobs. Seems your the one loosing out.

Ask your client what their expectations are from your inspection. Do they know how to use a paintbrush or screwdriver, or are they lost at Home Depot? A high maintenance house could bankrupt a needy buyer. Set your clients expectations, and address them in your report.


Agreed. And a good report on an old home with big problems is like a work of art. I have seen some great ones and some I cannot bear to read.

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“Caulked nails/fasteners noted. Recommend: monitor and maintain as needed.” Insert photo with arrow (s).
I don’t think your being to picky. Bringing them to their attention is a courtesy.

I agree with Evan.

I do agree with you, but one must be very careful when doing so…

The problem with such statement is you are trying to gauge how a relatively small issue to fix will play out if not fixed. What if the client blames you for not reporting exposed nails, clearly observable, after they notice a puddle of water on the floor after a heavy rain storm because the nails have rusted and finally began to leak? it also just so happened the water damaged their irreplaceable family heirloom or expensive painting. How much is the liability now? just a few exposed nails :slight_smile: no big deal!

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I’ve never seen a puddle of water from a non-caulked nail… and it rains A LOT in Oregon.

I do get what you’re saying though. There’s always a chance that something little turns into something big. This whole question/concept reminds me of something I’ve talked with other experienced inspectors about. That being that the more experienced you get the longer inspections (and reports) can take because you just see so much. This can often lead one to question if we are being too picky and should “scale it back” a bit. Which then leads to the question of, “what do I not report on”. And it is hard… It’s like trying to “un-know” something. I rarely don’t report things. It’s really as I said earlier when the house is just a disaster and it’s something super minor. And often times that “something” is covered in a blanket statement about a system - “further evaluation of all aspects of the building envelope” and I could argue the uncaulked nails were part of that.

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Understanding your client and communication also plays a huge role in managing these expectations.

First time home buyers often have trouble managing expectations of a used home for example. They’ll be the first to call you about a loose door knob on a 100 year old house if you don’t spend a little extra effort explaining what to expect from you and the home.

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It is, especially in a state like NY where people are waiting to wake up one morning and sue someone. It is a fine balance between reporting, not reporting, and missing something altogether.