Up On The Roof: Rules And Safety
Why dont some home inspectors go on the roof? There are no requirements in the standards of practice of the national associations for home inspectors for climbing on the roof. Those inspectors who do are usually trying to get up close and personal with any issues they believe are affecting the roof. Its a personal decision, and its rare to see any home inspector walk roofs that are steeper than a 6-in-12 slope.
What Does A Home Inspector Look For In An Attic
by | Mar 12, 2020 | Blog |
There are over 5 million homes sold each year in the United States.
If you are going to sell your house, you should prepare it for a home inspection. One place that we dont often go to that a home inspector will go to is the attic.
Most people dont make a habit of going up into their attic, and so they have no idea what is going on up there. Home inspectors will check every part of the house that they can get to, and the attic has several things they will be looking for.
Do Home Inspectors Go In An Attic
That unobtrusive ceiling panel is the gateway to a wealth of information.
Attics are hot in summer, cold in winter, dusty, dirty, and part of a complete home inspection. Inspectors typically work by a set of standards. Theyre the Standards of Practice, and most home inspector associations have them.
No matter which Standards you work by, you can bet that attic inspections are always on the list. Heres why:
Attics Arent Just Empty Space
Attic spaces are more than a place to store holiday decorations and out of season clothing. Theyre an important part of the homes overall built-in ventilation and climate control system.
Unfinished attics should stay about the same temperature as the great outdoors in all seasons, says inspector Mike Holmes for the Winnipeg Free Press. And they need to breathe. Thats why attic ventilation is so important. If its adequate, excess heat in summer and condensation year-round will have a place to escape. If not, the attic and the whole house might have a dampness problem.
Attics Inspections Begin Outside
According to Working RE magazine, attic inspections begin with the roof. Inspectors look for proper ventings such as turbines, soffit vents and ridge vents. And whats adequate for one house might not be for another.
Some attics have reasonably finished floors, but many of them dont.
Inspections Require Access
Attics Moisture Gives Clues About the Homes Health
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Buying A Home And Need Help
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Step by Step Guide
Importance Of Home Inspection Contingency
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Before you buy a home, one of the things you should do is to have it checked out by a professional home inspector. Yes, we can hear your objection: “Buying a home is expensive enough as it is! Why would I choose to fork over hundreds more if I’m not required to?” In this article, we’ll delve into what a home inspection can reveal and whether it’s worth the investment.
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Roof Inspections And Home Inspectors
Roof inspections pose a significant threat to home inspectors. Bartley broke his radius bone in his arm, comminuted his wrist, and broke several carpals in his hand. His injuries put him out of work for eight weeks, and even when he returned, he had to rely on his uninjured arm as the other continued to heal. Nevertheless, Bartley considers himself fortunate. One bad fall from a ladder or roof could end in disability or death.
While its easy to consider yourself too good at your job to have such an accident, it can happen to anyone. In his article Ladder Safety for the ASHI Reporter, Rick Bunzel explained why assuming youre impervious to falls is naive.
Most of us believe well never have an accident during an inspection. However, think back over the past months about how many close calls you had. How many times did the ladder jump around while you were going into the attic? Or the ladder shift when you stepped back onto it? Bunzel wrote.
Thankfully, falling from your ladder or a roof while on the job is avoidable. There are ways for you to manage your risk against harm. In this article, we discuss some precautions and resources to overcome fall hazards you may encounter during inspections.
What Home Inspectors Do Not Look For
Home inspectors are not concerned with anything cosmetic in a home, unless it poses a potential safety issue. For example: If there is a large crack or water stain on a wall, theyll report it. But they wont report peeling wallpaper.
Additionally, if a buyer requests a seller update simple home elements or cosmetic flaws, that should raise a red flag. If a handyman can handle the repair, I wouldnt encourage a buyer to ask for it, says Peters. When you are arguing over an interior door that doesnt latch or reverse polarity on an outlet on a $500,000 home, then something is wrong.
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Your House May Not Be Up To Code
Generally, home inspectors are not responsible for checking the home for code compliance . This means that old, out-of-date conditions or renovations done by the previous owner may not meet modern building code standards for your area.
Buying a home that’s not up to code leaves you vulnerable to both safety and financial risks. It means that your family won’t benefit from all the latest safety standards and technologies, including things like modern wiring or home sprinklers. It also leaves you footing the bill for code compliance on renovation or repair work. For example, if you decide to add a home addition in the future, you’ll likely be required to bring the house up to code first. For big issues like wiring and plumbing, these costs could easily run into the thousands.
If They Dont Go Up How Do They Inspect
Inspection from the ground using binoculars is very effective. The type and condition of the roof surface can largely be seen from the ground. A good pair of binoculars helps inspectors get a close look at details, such as the flashing around chimneys and the use of chimney crickets.
Inspecting the roof from a ladder is another effective way to judge its condition. Gutters, the life expectancy of the roof, number of layers, and condition and location of fasteners can all be seen from a ladder. Number of layers can also be assessed by examining the shingles on the rake edge. One of the newest and increasingly popular methods for inspecting a roof is by drone.
Home inspectors simply need to make sure their report on the roof is accurate and clear, and theyll have no need to walk a roofeven if they think the homeowner is expecting it.
If you like the idea of searching out problems to make sure home buyers are aware of what theyre purchasing, consider becoming a home inspector. Even if you have a fear of heights, you can do this. Check out our home inspection education offerings here.
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Get Pictures For Proof
Any home inspector worth using will bring a camera along on the inspection. The inspector will also be heading into places that you won’t want to go if you don’t have to . Ask your inspector to photograph any potential issues that arise so you can see the issue for yourself and make sure you fully understand the problem.
Infrared and thermal cameras can give you and your inspector a look behind walls and floors that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get without ripping out drywall or flooring. Because this technology is so accessible, your home inspector should use these pieces of equipment throughout the inspection .
What If An Issue Arises With The Home Inspection Or Report
In some cases, the homebuyer may be displeased with the service the home inspector provided. Often in these situations, the homebuyer is left feeling that crucial defects or details were missed during the inspection process or left out of the inspection report. ASHI always suggests that the homebuyer should contact their home inspector and explain the concerns they have with the home inspection report.
Sometimes, it may turn out to be a simple misunderstanding, with the inspector providing further explanation clarifying the issue. In many states, home inspectors are licensed and follow the regulations put forth by their state. If the homebuyer is not able to resolve their dissatisfaction with the home inspector directly, they are encouraged to contact their state governing body for information on how to proceed.
To file a complaint to ASHI, homebuyers can fill out this form. It is important to note that any enforcement or sanctioning is specifically reserved for state governing bodies.
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Should They Walk The Roof
Should a home inspector walk the roof? ABSOLUTELY. On our work vans we carry 28ft extension ladders. This allows us to access most second story roofs. As we mentioned above, one factor is our safety. As long as it is safe to climb we will walk them. There are so many minor items that would be extremely difficult to spot if not seen while on the roof. There is no alternative to the information available from getting on the roof.
People could argue that a leak can be found from within the attic inspection. I agree with that statement, though once a leak is found in the attic its done more damage to the sheathing and possibly the materials below than if found early on. When I walk the roof I can find problems before they cause significant damage. These issues may include missing shingle tabs, exposed nail heads, and flashing concerns. Protect your home with someone whos willing to go further then just the required.
What Should You Ask During A Home Inspection
During the inspection, ask the inspector what they will inspect and what isn’t covered in the inspection. Ask them about anything you are worried about, like a sagging roof, poor electrical, or rusty or slow-flowing water out of the taps. Don’t be afraid of asking questions during the inspection from “is this a big problem or a little problem?” and if they can explain any functions of the home you might not be familiar with, like a fireplace or an oil burner.
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If Its Too Dangerous Skip It
Regardless of what youre inspecting, its important to always put your safety first. While most standards of practice require inspectors to inspect and describe roofing materials, they do not require inspectors to walk every roof surface. Instead, inspectors can choose the method of inspection and the vantage point, based on the individual circumstances.
I know you want to do your best for your client, but youve got to think about your safety, your family, and everything else, Bartley said. If you feel just a little bit like somethings off or somethings not right, dont do it. Dont let your pride get in the way of your safety.
According to Todd Newman of AmeriSpec of Louisville in Kentucky, its important to not let your pride or experience get in the way of taking necessary precautions.
Roof inspections can get dangerous when someone is skipping important safety steps or not paying attention to weather, rain, or their physical limitations, Newman said. Sometimes, inspectors egos and their desire to prove to the world that they climbed a dangerous roof becomes .
Not all roofs are safe to walk on. Roofs that are wet, icy, mossy, or steep are roofs you should probably skip. Certain roofing materials, like metal or terracotta, may pose to great a risk to you or the property . Roofs too high to safely access are not advisable to walk. Weathersuch as high winds, storms, and heatcan also pose potentially too great a danger to get on a ladder and a roof.
Place Your Ladder In The Right Spot
Where you place your ladder can have a significant impact on your safety. As such, its important to take setting up your ladder seriously every time.
When youve inspected 2,000 roofs, you start taking things for granted, Bartley said. You just kind of throw your ladder down and jump on the roof.
Make sure that you always set up your ladder on firm, level ground. There shouldnt be anything that can cause your ladder to slip at the base or top support points.
Also, look out for potential hazards in the surrounding area. If youre placing your ladder near a door, are you sure that door is locked and not going to be opened while youre using your ladder? Are there household pets nearby that could potentially run into and knock over your ladder?
When setting up your ladder, always open it completely so that all the locks engage. If youre using an extension ladder, follow the four-to-one rule: For each four feet of distance between the ground and the upper point of contactin your case, the wall or the roofmove the base of the ladder out one foot.
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Tips To Perform Safer Roof Inspections
While performing a routine roof inspection, KC Bartley of Professional Home Inspections in Tennessee set his ladder up on the rear deck of the property. It had rained recently, and a thin coat of mildew coated the deck, making it a little slick. However, Bartley had encountered similar scenarios a hundred times, so he thought nothing of it.
Bartley climbed the ladder, mounted the roof, walked it, and documented what he saw without incident. Getting ready to descend, he put his left foot on the top rung of the ladder. As he lifted his right foot from the roofs surface, the ladder kicked out at the bottom. His left leg slipped through the rungs, and Bartley fell backward 13 feet.
I literally started crying on the way down. It was slow motion as I was thinking, This is how I leave my daughters. This is how I die, Bartley said. At the last minute, God said, Throw your arm down. So, I put my arm above my head and towards the deck.
Bartleys arm partially broke his fall. He landed square on his shoulders, his upper back, and lower neck. Bartley knows the fall made him pass out, but hes not entirely sure for how long. His best guess: less than a minute. When he came to, he looked over at his left armthe one that had broken his fall. It had doubled in size.
How To Prepare For Your Home Inspection
A home inspector goes through a very thorough checklist. They look at literally everything. Prepare for the inspection to avoid unnecessary blemishes on the report.
Here are some quick things to double check before your home inspection:
- Keep receipts of any maintenance or routine services youve ever had on your home or its components. Have them organized and ready to show to inspectors and buyers. For example: chimney sweeped, furnace serviced, filters changed in HVAC, water heater serviced, etc.
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Other Things To Know About A Condo Inspection
Who pays for the home inspection on a condo? The buyer does. Ask your realtor for a list of home inspectors and choose one that specializes in condos. The home inspection for a condo should typically take an hour.
The buyers of the condo should still attend the home inspection so that they can see first hand what the report results are. A home inspection for a condominium is around $300 in Alabama.
Find out more about the owners of the condominium complex. You want to know if any lawsuits have been filed, or if the condominium association is being taken over by a different organization. These factors may influence living conditions and repair time in your condo complex.
Once the condo is yours you will be responsible for maintenance inside the unit. This can be a huge responsibility, so we created a list of things to help you make sure your house maintenance goes smoothly. for our blog on home maintenance tips all homeowners should know. It also includes a few suggestions for creating a schedule for all of your home maintenance needs so that nothing gets left out!