Category Archives: Roof Inspections

What makes a good inspector and a good inspection report

I recently saw this on an inspection report by someone north of Palm Beach County:

Inspection reportRoof has 2 layers on it. This is not a recommended method of roofing for Florida and may present issues with obtaining insurance or financing. • Sagging / buckling on roof decking. • Damaged and rotted sheathing noted. • Recommend roofing contractor to evaluate. In the attic: Evidence of past or present leaks observed in several areas. Tested dry at time of the inspection. Monitor for leaks &/or have roofing contractor evaluate.

If you were buying this home, what would you think of this statement. I would be irritated if this was in a report on a home that I was buying. These statements mean absolutely nothing to someone not versed in construction or the building codes. If this inspector had any knowledge of the codes he would have known that yes, you can do a roof over, but only if certain conditions are met. One of those conditions is the roof decking has to be in good shape, of which this deck was not – that is why they did the roof over – to stop the roof from leaking.

This inspector is obviously either deficient in his education or very realtor friendly and does not want to write anything that would hold up the sale or cause the sale to not go though. It should have been clear to him that the roof needs to be replaced, as it was done wrong in the first place. Recommending that a roofing contractor evaluate the roof does two things. Is shows lack of knowledge on the part of the inspector, and now it will cost the buyer to spend more money to have the roof inspected, which is what he paid the inspector for. With the time constraints put on real estate sales today, there might not be time to get an opinion from a roofing contractor.

But don’t worry about the client, because this inspector is part of an association that will buy the house back for the purchase price, but that would depend on the interpretation on whether or not the association felt that the report had enough information in it that the buyer should have known, or had paid for a roofing contractor to come out and inspect the roof. And that brings me to another whole story. Do you think any buyer really wants to buy a home, pay all of the expenses on the home, ie closing costs, escrow to close, title insurance, and then only be paid back the purchase price, plus having to move again, which is costly.

It is important when you are buying a home to hire an experienced inspector. Do not take any recommendations without doing some homework. Part of that homework should be to review some sample reports from prospective inspectors. The ones that recommend further evaluation on most items are the inspectors you want to toss to the side. That roof should have been written up as a replacement. Based on the size of that home and the fact that there would be an extra charge to tear off the extra layer, a new roof would cost between $10,000.00 and $12,000.00. As a client, wouldn’t you want to know that so you could either negotiate for an new roof, or credit, or, if need be, walk away from the deal if the numbers did not meet your satisfaction.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc

 

General Roof Information for Florida

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The following article off roof systems apples to Florida only. Other areas of the county may have different rules and regulations.

Roofing System: Your  roofing is more than shingles, tiles, or metal – it is a system that brings it all together. The key to a roof systems’ effectiveness is complete protection, which can be negatively affected by even a few missing, torn, or worn out shingles. Moisture protection is a factor from all angles in a roof system. This requires consideration of factors such as avoiding condensation and proper flashing.

Roofing Materials: There are many different types of roofing materials available. In Florida they must meet a certain minimum standard. The most common roofing materials are fiberglass / asphalt singles, metal, tile (clay or concrete), and built up (modified bitumen or cap sheet. Other types include wood, slate, copper, EPDM, PVC, SPF and TPO. When choosing a material for your roof, cost can become a factor, but this involves more than looking at up front costs. More expensive materials may yield immediate savings in lower utility bills and possible lower insurance rates, intermediate savings in better protection from storms, and long-term savings in the longevity before your next roof replacement.

Contractor Qualifications: All roofing contractors are not alike. Hiring the right contractor will make a big difference in the quality of your roof and the experience of roofing your house. Florida requires that all roofing contractors be licensed under chapter 489, Florida Statutes. They may also need a local occupational license. In addition to licensure, Florida law requires compliance with workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This is especially important since roofing is dangerous work. If your contractor does not have proper insurance, you may be held responsible for any injury or damage.

Cautions:

  • Re-roofing estimates and work can be heavily impacted by the quality of previous roofing work, including repairs.
  • If roof damage is extensive, you may be required to bring your entire roof (not just the damaged portions) up to current building standards. This should be verified with your local building department.
  • Failure to hire a contractor properly licensed and qualified may invalidate your homeowners insurance coverage for roofing or other damage related to the performance of your roof. It may also subject you to criminal charges.
  • Failure of your contractor to obtain a permit and comply with workers’ compensation and safety requirements may stop work and cost you more money to complete the work.
  • Your contractor should always obtain the permit. It is never a good idea for the homeowner to do so. It is your responsibility to make sure that all the material suppliers an subcontractors (if any) are paid. If you pay your contractor and they do not pay others, you may legally be required to pay twice (Florida Constriction Lie Law, part 1, Chapter 713, Florida Statutes).

Posted by Bill Siegel. Florida Home Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513 Miami home inspector

Roof and roof maintenance tips

Roofing and roimagesofing materials are not well understood by most homeowners. This article can be very helpful to the average person who is looking to maintain their roof- or those considering a roof repair or replacement.

Some of the things you should consider about the roof of a house are;

The quality of the roofing material

When replacing your roof, the quality of the material used for your roof should be the best. Research the different materials available. Certain roof coverings perform better than others. For instance, there are different brands and grades of asphalt shingles. Some will wear better and last longer. Remember, the cheapest is not always the best.

Checking the condition

Know the condition of your roof. If you do not know what to look for, hire a professional inspector to perform the inspection. They will be able to point out and damage. They should also be able to tell you how old your roof is and how much longer you can expect it to last before replacement is needed.For an exact age, in Florida a least, there should be records at the building department.

Roofing Warranty

All roofs, here in Florida, come with a roof warranty. These warranties can range from two years to 10 years (most warranties do not include acts of God, like hurricanes or tornadoes – your insurance policy should cover that). If you are looking to purchase a home, check to see if there is a roof warranty, and if it can be transferred. Most warranties should stay with the house. Some companies will have a small transfer fee.  Most home in Florida that are over 20 years in age will be required to obtain a roof certification. This is an inspection that tell the insurance company the remaining life of the roof. These companies are usually looking for 3 to 5 years of remaining life in order to issue insurance. It the remaining life falls below those ages, they will require that the roof be replaced before insurance can be issued.

History of the roof

Always obtain a disclosure from the seller about the roof. Seek receipts / paperwork for all work that has been done. Keep in mind that shingle roof systems, and this is for South Florida – other areas will be different, will last somewhere between 14-19 years before replacement is needed. Tile roof systems will last 22-26 years.

Every roof will require maintenance. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy roof:

Ensure regular inspections

Always have your roof inspected by professionals regularly. This should be done on an annual basis, especially as the roof gets older. This will help you be able to detect any problems, Remember, simple problems, such as high nails on a shingle roof, can turn into leaks. If repaired early, larger bills can be avoided.

Always have any damages repaired immediately

Act on any damages when they are detected. This will save money and time that would otherwise go into greater damages.

Keep a good cleaning schedule

Clean your gutters regularly. It is very common for leaves to clog the gutter system. Water then backs down the back side the gutter, causing damage to the fascia, and can work its way into the structure.

Many people will have their tile roofs pressure cleaned. A lot of times this can cause more damage than good. Pressure cleaning can remove mortar along the ridge lines, loosen tiles, and many times the cleaner will crack tiles. Be careful in hiring a company to do this. Check their contract closely, and inspect your roof before and after they pressure clean. They should be responsible for any broken tiles.

In Summary

Do not neglect warning signs of property damage, or the routine maintenance to keep your roof in good shape. It makes sense to repair damaged shingles or tiles before major damage is occurs. .

Remember, your roof is the most expensive item on your home to replace. Proper maintenance can extend the life of your roof. And every homeowner should have a budget to replace their roof when it gets up in age.

Posted By Bill Siegel Florida Homes Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513 Miami Home Inspector

Improperly Nailed Roof System

The following pictures were taken from a roof that was re-nailed and installed in 2009 up in Sunrise Florida. The house was originally built-in 1989. There was a permit that had been pulled and signed off on by an engineer.   There were multiple other areas where the nails also missed the truss system.

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The realtor called me wanting to know how this permit could have been closed. Their main concern was that on the wind mitigation form I would not check the box that would give them credit for the nailing pattern. Without that credit her client might not qualify for the loan due to the higher insurance cost. And of course, they want to hold me responsible for the sale not going though, because, after all, the roof passed all inspections.

This is a situation that is all too common. When the city inspectors inspect a roof they never look in the attic. I am not sure what the engineer did here, but there are signed affidavits that this roof was re-nailed properly and that it meets the uplift resistance requirements. The problem here starts with the roofing contractor not checking his work, then it transfers to whoever is inspecting the project, whether it be the city inspector or the engineer that signs off on the work. For those of you that don’t know, an engineer is allowed to sign off on a project. When that happens the city officials rarely, if ever, will visit that site.

And now, as a home inspector for my client, it comes down to me to be the one to deliver the bad news: that this roof was not re-nailed per the Florida Building Code. What are their options? Well, in the black and white world the roof covering needs to be removed and the deck needs to be re-nailed. All missed nails should be backed out. What a mess that will create! At that point some, if not all, of the roof decking should be replaced. In the real world two things might happen. First, a second engineer could go out and either verify or deny the wind lift resistance. If denied, the roof would need to be replaced. If he verifies it, then it would be up to the buyer to either accept the results, or not accept them. Remember, the roof is still not nailed to code, because the codes says the nails must be nailed into the truss. The second options would be to send all of the paperwork into the insurance company and see if they would accept it as validation. This is most likely not going to happen unless the inspector signing the wind mitigation form will check the appropriate box, something I will not do, but would not be uncommon for other to do. And remember, if the new buyer goes to sell the house in the next few years, this problem could pop up all over again.

Now, who is ultimately responsible for this roof. Everyone wants to blame the city inspector. In this case he did not approve this roof, the engineer did. Even if the city did inspect the roof, he would not be held liable. In Chapter one of the Florida Building Code it states that city inspectors are held harmless for their actions. The responsibility here would fall back on the engineer who signed the affidavits, but ultimately it falls back on the contractor that did th work, because they are responsible for following the building code.

And, now I am being challenged because i am saying that the contractor and engineer did not do their jobs correctly. This becomes a vicious cycle, which should have never happened in the first place if the contractor had proper oversight on his job. Home inspectors become ‘deal killers in cases like this because we all know that in the real world noting goes perfectly. But let me ask you this – would you, as a buyer, want to know that your roof was not properly installed. And, what if it does not meet the uplift requirement and we happen to get that one category 4 or 5 hurricane and your roof blows off and you stayed in that house because you were under the false sense of security that your roof would stay intact. Our job is to inspect and report what we observe. and report for the health, safety, and welfare of our clients.  I, for one, will continue to do my job to the best of my ability.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513. Miami Home Inspector

Report Writing 101

This came across my desk this morning.

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“The roof covering is old, and the life of the covering has expired. The roof covering does need to be replaced. While it could last a year or so, some areas may need patching with tar as leaks develop.

The roof covering is missing several shingles at the right side. Roof flashing is separated at the front gable tine and appears to leak. A qualified contactor should inspect and repair as needed.”

So which is it. Does the roof need to be repaired or does it need to be replaced. This kind of report writing irritates me. If the roof needs to be replaced tell the client so and move on. Why be wishy-washy. Not only that, I wonder how he would report this on a 4 point or roof certification.

Home inspection report writing should be concise and to the point. Our clients should know what to expect, especially with regards to the roof, as it is probably the most expensive area of the house to replace. There should never have been a mention of repairs to this roof. It needed to be replaced, period. Why confuse your client. 

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc

Shingle Roof Life Expetancy in South Florida

There has been a lot of discussion and misconception about the life expectancy or a roof in Florida lately. As I am in Miami, this post will focus on the southeast Florida area. Many people think that because they install a roof with a 30 year shingle guarantee from the manufacturer that the roof should last for 30 years. That is not the case. Other factors, such as wind, rain, heat, and humidity come into play. And, the underlayments and flashings are usually what will deteriorate first. The shingle is only part of the application. Also the installation application will play a role in the longevity of a roof. Here in South Florida, taking all of these into consideration, you can expect a 3 tab shingle roof to last about 15-17 years and a dimensional shingle roof to last about 17-19 years.

Another reason we have this discussion is the directive from Citizens insurance company a few years ago that they would not insure a shingle roof that is over 25 years of age, thus setting a benchmark for the state that does not apply to South Florida. The following definition is in home inspection licensing administrative code: 26) Service Life: Service life is the expected lifetime, or the acceptable period of use in service of a particular system or component. It is the time that any manufactured item can be expected to be “serviceable,” providing proper maintenance has taken place over the period concerned. Service life may vary from region to region, and inspection to inspection based on the home being inspected and the professional opinion and findings of the inspector. They even acknowledged that different regions can have different life expectancies, and that it also depends on proper maintenance.

As a home inspector I am a professional at what I do. When you hire me you ar looking for our professional opinion. Sellers want to sell their homes, realtors want to sell homes. They will say whatever it takes. Take the word and opinion of the professional you hires to inspect your soon to be home.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc

 

 

Home inspection versus 4 point insurance inspection

While a home inspection covers much more than a 4 point insurance inspection, the 4 point does cover four main aspects of the house, the roof, plumbing, electrical, an AC / heating system. The question becomes how are these inspections being performed. If an inspector is wiring both inspections for a client one would think that both of these reports would be the same. Unfortunately many times they are not. Many inspectors will whitewash an insurance inspection so their client will not have trouble getting insurance. I have seen many reports where a roof is improperly installed, may be leaking, and yet the insurance inspection shows it to have no deficiencies with 5 to 10 years of life left, when in fact it will need to be replaced.

Many inspectors who rely on insurance inspections for part of their income will fudge these reports, especially if they are not doing the home inspection. This way they ensure that the agent will keep referring them. And now many realtors are telling their clients to only get the 4 point instead of a whole home inspection because they have caught wind of this. It helps them sell the house faster and for more money.

To all home buyers out there – hire an inspector that is going to give you an unbialsed opinion of the house. Use it to negotiate or walk away from that home. Not all homes are for everyone. If your roof would need to be replaced in two years, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Maybe that if something you can live with. But maybe not. At least you would have the opportunity to negotiate for a lower price, or if you  know you cannot afford a roof in two years, walk away and look for another house.

For those that are writing soft insurance report, in time it will catch up with you . The public is becoming more savvy and there is a lot more litigation going on in this industry than ever before.

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team INc.