Most home inspectors will climb up and walk on the roof surface. Home inspectors are not required to walk on any roof surface if they feel it is unsafe and/or would cause damage by doing so. Limitations to getting on the roof often include adverse weather conditions, steep roof pitches, and poor condition of the roof coverings themselves. Let’s look at those conditions.
- Bad Weather Conditions (Snow or Ice)
- Height Off Ground
- Steep Roof Pitch
- Poor Roof Conditions
- Slate, clay tile, and plastic are all brittle and can be easily damaged
For most homes, a home inspector needs to climb onto a roof to inspect the roof coverings properly. Most home inspectors want to walk on the roof because it provides the best method of inspecting the overall condition of the roof.
Flat roofs and pitched roofs of 3/12 or less should be walked on. These roof surfaces are difficult (and in some cases impossible) to accurately inspect from the ground level or from a ladder at the eaves. Walking on the roof allows the home inspector to see the true condition of the roof coverings and to feel the sturdiness of the roof sheathing under their feet. Other benefits of walking on the roof include hands-on inspection of flashings, roof penetrations, chimneys, skylights, and gutters. Some of the defects found walking the roof that is often missed by other inspection methods:
- Hail damage to the roof coverings
- Exposed nail heads on ridge shingles, venting, and roof penetrations
- Deteriorated plumbing vent boots
- Soft roof decking
- Loose flashing
As we explore why a home inspector will or won’t walk a roof, we need to look at this objectively. Often this decision is made on a case-by-case basis while on site. The safety of the home inspector is of the utmost importance.
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