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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