The Roof Inspection

A few weeks ago, I got a call to do a roof inspection in Bethesda, Maryland. As I always do when I do a roof inspection – I get on the roof. It might sound strange but I’m constantly told by real estate agents that most home inspectors do not get on the roof. I’ll admit, there have been a few times I did not get on a roof.  A slate roof, for example, you can’t walk on without special measures. And steeply pitched roofs, especially wet roofs, I won’t go on. In both of these cases, I will always set up my ladder and get as close as possible. But, hey, wait a minute, I got off track.

Let me get back to that roof inspection in Bethesda…

The homeowner noticed a few asphalt shingles in her yard and wondered if perhaps they had come from her roof. She said she was thinking of calling a roofing contractor to look, but she thought that it made more sense to call an independent inspector because a contractor might not have her best interest in mind. I wanted to jump up and cheer and say, “Bravo, ma’am!” She is one person in a hundred who thinks this way. More often than not, homeowners call repair-persons (roofers, plumbers, electricians, etc.) when they think they have a problem, and do you know what happens? You bet. The home is in a state of near-failure and it can only be saved with a huge repair cost.  As an inspector and engineer, my code of ethics prohibits me from doing any repair work. I have no incentive other than telling you the truth. I was eager to help this woman out.

I politely clapped my hands, acknowledging her good sense, and then extended my ladder to about 24 feet and climbed up. At first, I didn’t see any missing shingles and I was puzzled, because the fallen shingles had come from somewhere, and the neighboring houses seemed too far. I carefully walked over the roof and sure enough, on a concealed side of a dormer, I found two missing shingles and one damaged shingle. My inspection continued: the condition of all the shingles, how the chimney was flashed, the ridge vent, some trim, the plumbing stacks, etc. All I found (after twenty minutes) was that the rubber boot (rubber collar) on one of the vent stacks had deteriorated.

I reported my findings to the woman and suggested she consult a licensed roofing contractor to make the repairs. She asked how much it would cost, and I said around $300. I thought that would be the end of it.

A week later the woman called me. She told me that she had a roofing contractor come out. She said she did not tell the contractor the roof had been inspected by me, she just told the roofer she thinks a shingle might be missing. Right then I was interested. This was one savvy woman. She was testing the contractor’s honesty. And sure enough the contractor failed. The roofing contractor told her she needed a brand new roof but there was good news! He said that because there was only one layer on her roof, he could put a second layer on saving her a great deal of money. She asked me again, if her roof was fine, because she said the man was very convincing. I told her, “I would never recommend replacing that roof.” She said she was going to call a different roofer. I asked that she let me know how it goes.

Two days later, she called me back. She had had two more roofers come out. The second company wanted to replace about fifteen shingles (only 3 were necessary), re-flash the chimney, and replace the collars on three vent stacks, and install better gutter-guards (the gutter-guards she had were perfectly fine). The bill: $1400.

At last the third contractor got it right: replace missing shingles, replace vent collar. Price: $450. Maybe a bit high, but definitely honest so well worth it.

I think you see the point, but I’m going to beat you over the head with it anyway.

Get a roof inspection from an independent inspector like Kemp Home Inspections.



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