How To Look At A House

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What would cause a home inspector and roofing contractor to disagree on the remaining life left in a roof?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

We can think of three reasons why an inspector and roofer might disagree on the condition and remaining life of a roof:

1) It’s a subjective call, based on professional experience - We have been home inspectors since 2002, and building contractors for many years before that. Since we are also licensed roofing contractors, we have done our share of roofs. And most roofing contractors have years of experience looking at, repairing, and replacing roofs too. So experienced inspectors and roofers have both touched a lot of roofs.

    The problem is that it’s easy to estimate the remaining life in a roof that is only half over; but, as a roof approaches its last few years, the evaluation becomes harder. This is because a graph of roof deterioration over time is not a straight line thing. It’s more of a curve that bends sharply near the end, since roofs tend to degrade faster near the end of their lifespan. Also, to complicate things, some roofs deteriorate much faster for a while and then level off near the end. So it’s an educated guess. 

2) A roofer may be able to add years to the estimated remaining life after doing repairs - As home inspectors we cannot offer to do repairs to any home we have inspected. It’s part of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) administrative code for licensed inspectors. We occasionally list a remaining life based on minor repairs by a roofing contractor, but more extensive repairs in order to get a few more years out of a roof are usually not worth it. A roofing contractor may see it differently.

3) The "roofing contractor" is not actually a licensed roofing contractor - Most insurance companies in Florida want a roof inspection report signed by a licensed contractor, inspector, or roofer, that certifies at least three to five years of additional life. The standard form for the report is the Citizens Insurance “Roof Inspection Form.” If the report you receive seems suspicious, we suggest checking to make sure the inspector is actually licensed in Florida. A handyman cannot, for example, submit a roof inspection form, no matter how knowledgeable and experienced. 

    We had an experience about ten years ago in Gainesville, Florida, where we declared a roof to be at the end of its serviceable lifespan and needing immediate replacement. It was leaking and in bad shape. The seller’s realtor presented us with a proposal from a local licensed roofer offering to certify five years of life after payment of $400 for “repairs.”  No amount of repair would have salvaged the roof in our opinion, so we did a little research on the contractor. It turned out that his Florida license was under suspension for other shenanigans at the time, so the proposal was a basically offer to sign a fraudulent roof certification on a bad roof for an exhorbitant fee by someone who no longer had the credentials to do so. As always, buyer beware. 

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  To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:

Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses?

Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt shingle roof? 

What are the mistakes to avoid when doing attic improvements?

What causes roof shingles to curl up at corners?  

What causes shingles to buckle along a line on the roof?

What causes leaks at a fake roof dormer? 

What causes a sagging roof ridge line?

What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?  

Why does it cost so much more to replace a steep roof than a low slope roof? 

What is "ponding" on a flat roof?

Is an attic required to have a light by the building code? 

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Why is premature curl of roof shingles a problem?

How can I tell if a roof has more than one layer of shingles? 

What are the common problems with attic insulation? 

What is the life expectancy of an asbestos cement shingle roof? 

What's the average lifespan of a roof?

Why is it a mistake to replace a roof and not replace its flashings? 

Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door? 

Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer?

What can I do to prevent roof leaks?

Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick framing)? 

Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?

What are the most common problems with wood roof trusses?

What causes a lump or dip in the roof? 

If my roof is not leaking, why does it need to be replaced?

How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?

How many layers of roofing are allowed on a home? 

What are the dark lines running parallel to shingles on my roof?

Can metal roofing be used on a low slope/pitch roof? 

How can I make my roof last longer?  

What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?

How can I find out the age of a roof? 

Should I buy a house that needs a new roof?

Should I buy a house with an old roof? 

What are those metal boxes on the roof?

What does "lack of tab adhesion" in an asphalt shingle roof mean?

Why do roof edges start leaking?

Why do my dormer windows leak? 

Do home inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

Should I put gutters on the house? 

How much of a roof truss can I cut out to make a storage platform in the attic? 

What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof? 

What does a home inspector look for when examining a roof? 

Do stains on the ceiling mean the roof is leaking?

How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?  

 Why does my homeowner's insurance want a roof inspection?

What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

    Visit our ROOF AND ATTIC page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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