Would You Get on the Roof in a Home Inspection?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY

I saw something today I never witnessed before. It happened when I was covering a home inspection for one of my agents (Yes- I know. What a great guy I am).  A home inspector brought the buyer onto the roof to show him something. I was so surprised to see this that I snapped a picture of it on my phone. Now, this was the first time I ever met the inspector. He was a sharp guy, handled the buyer's 3-year old son like a champ, and from everything I saw made a thorough, straight inspection. He even had one of those infrared thingies that can detect moisture and rodents in the walls. He really was very good in every other way. 

Up on the Roof

However, I know inspectors who wouldn't go up on a roof themselves. It's part of risk management. I have often said that New York is a shark tank of liability, and many inspectors don't feel it wise to climb up there, opting instead to making a visual inspection , even using binoculars. But they don't go up there. 

We can argue whether or not that is right or wrong, but I have never seen an inspector take a buyer up there with him. The buyer is a young guy, ostensibly fit, flexible, and coordinated. But gravity is gravity, and I really wonder if the inspector's insurance, let alone the home owner, would be comfortable with such a thing. 

I am not trying to give the inspector a hard time, or impugn his judgement, but I really do have to wonder if that move is very wise. 

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Rainmaker
460,271
Jeana Cowie
RE/MAX Real Estate Limited - Paramus, NJ
Broker Associate, ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES

Wow - talk about a risky and scarey thing to do. I have never seen this. In fact, I have only maybe seen 5 inspectors go on a roof themselves in over 600 inspections I've been at for homes I've sold. That is just plain stupid of the inspector!! 

Sep 02, 2010 10:32 PM #3
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Bob Haywood
McGraw Realtors - Owasso, OK
www.BobHaywood.com

Holy Cow.  Don't think I would recommend that.  WAY too much liability!  Great thinking to take the pic!

Sep 02, 2010 10:35 PM #4
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Tammy Lankford
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Your Lake Sinclair Expert (706-485-9668)

Umm, dude, could you just take a photo and explain it to me, cause I don't do the roof!

Sep 02, 2010 10:39 PM #5
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Charita Cadenhead
Keller Williams Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

Not sure about the inspector inviting the buyer on the roof.  However,I don't know how an inspector could report on the condition of the roof if he didn't get up there himself.  I've seen them do it (report without inspecting) and it's pretty hard for me to consider them credible is the example from the street.

Sep 02, 2010 10:44 PM #6
Rainer
87,871
Paul Lesieur
203kloanmn - North Oaks, MN

I think liability would be on the owner of the proerty if something were to happen. But I wouldn't ask my customer up there.

Sep 02, 2010 10:44 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,090,246
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I had this happen once too!  The inspector didn't actually invite the client... he just took off up the ladder ... and there he was.  Most inspectors do not climb on the roof these days...et along the buyer.

Sep 02, 2010 10:49 PM #8
Rainmaker
355,744
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Skogman Realty - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist

I think that it was poor judgment for the inspector to encourage the buyer to climb up to the roof.  I agree that there is a risk and liability to the seller in the case that someone should get injured and is not appropriately insured.  What a picture!

Sep 02, 2010 10:49 PM #9
Rainmaker
433,843
Stanley Stepak
Howard Hanna Gold- Avon Lake, OH - Avon Lake, OH
Realtor - Avon Lake, Avon, Bay Village, Westlake,

Yes  i would worry abut liability on a fall.  Discourage that in the future with your buyers... Just my advise.

Sep 02, 2010 10:53 PM #10
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ASHEVILLE 1031 PROPERTIES RESOURCES & REFERRALS
Asheville 1031 REFERRING BROKERAGE - Asheville, NC
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OK...everyone knows that you can't talk with a guy on a ladder...but two guys on a roof!? one of them a buyer?? That  sounds even more "iffy" to me...

Sep 02, 2010 10:55 PM #11
Rainmaker
440,217
Letitia Stevenson
BHHS Fox & Roach | www.DelawareValleyRE.com - Greenville, DE
Delaware Valley Real Estate, Lic'd in DE, PA & MD

From My Experience: Generally, buyers  may accompany the home inspector everywhere EXCEPT onto the roof (or into the attic) for liability reasons (and safety reasons). Home inspectors typically take pictures of items/issues they uncover.

You're right about some home inspections not going onto the roof (or into the crawl space) in which case they may make visual observation with binoculars - not sure how effective this method is.

Sep 02, 2010 11:08 PM #12
Rainer
28,814
Angela Penkin
RE/MAX Plus - Rochester, NY

Hi Phil - just had a guy go up on a ladder on Friday, I wasn't too happy my buyer went up there.

Another native Rochestarian is in town this weekend. Michael Russer is here for our reunion, so the RE/MAX Region had a session with him this morning. Listening to him always gets the blood flowing again!

 

Sep 02, 2010 11:53 PM #13
Rainmaker
662,546
Eileen Hsu
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY
LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON

When you need to have a cig, you need to have a cig. No one climb up to the roof of the condominiums here.

Sep 03, 2010 12:09 AM #14
Rainer
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Gayla Worrell
Windermere Real Estate/Everett, Inc. - Everett, WA
Real Estate Webworks

Had an inspector climbing on a roof a couple of weeks ago and my client just climbed up after him.  I didn't even realize that's where he went until I heard them talking.  I was so shocked, wihtout even thinking, I yelled out to him, "S.J., get off that roof right this minute!" in my best Mom voice!  His wife was standing right behind me and just cracked up.  I was horribly embarassed that I did it but he came right down the ladder!

Sep 03, 2010 06:50 AM #15
Rainmaker
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Debbie Gartner
Floor Coverings International - Westchester NY & Stamford CT - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring

Wow, yes, not the best judgment, and not sure who's liability it would fall under.  Paul would be right under normal circumstances that it would prob. be the current homeowner, but I bet a crafty lawyer would say that was uninvited trespassing.

On a separate note, doesn't seem right for inspector not to check the roof physically.  I had a sand & refinish job last year for a new home...it rained in the middle, and the inspector had obviously not caught the hole/leak in the middle of the roof which ruined a section of floor.  Of course we redid it and not a big deal on our end, but a much bigger deal that the roof needed repair.

Sep 03, 2010 07:20 AM #16
Rainmaker
830,694
Marc Swartz
Toronto, ON
CPA, CA - Toronto, Durham & York Regions, Ontario

Philip - These are major potential lawsuits just waiting to happen.  It is best to stay off the roof.

Sep 03, 2010 07:22 AM #17
Rainmaker
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Dan and Amy Schuman
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Solon, OH
Luxury Home Specialists

Sounds like a risky habit for the inspector. Most that I know use binoculars and can get enough details without having to climb the roof.

Sep 03, 2010 08:09 AM #18
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Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.265.3004 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

I don't even like going up on my own roof, much less advocate a client up on someone else's roof!  Buyer takes a fall, the lawyer is going to have a field day with a so many people to blame!

Sep 03, 2010 08:49 AM #19
Rainer
37,033
Dan Cronin
Ocala, FL

Perhaps I'm naive, but, I wouldn't hire an inspector that wasn't willing (and insured) to climb on the roof and go into the attic. As the buyer, as long as I feel I can safely do so, I'd want to physically accompany the inspector to see any potential problems with my own eyes.

Sep 03, 2010 10:16 AM #20
Rainmaker
534,443
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY
LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON

My guess is that the inspector is trying to play the hero part to the buyer that he goes above and beyond the normal call of duty.  He probably hasn't thought out the what if scenarios of what could happen like you said.  I think you took that picture just in case something happened you'd have proof of what happened.

Sep 03, 2010 11:59 AM #21
Rainer
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Maureen Harmon
Exit Real Estate Gallery - Orange Park, FL
YOUR North Florida Relocation Specialists

My home inspector always goes up on the roof unless it is raining.  In fact, he usually gets there early to walk the roof before we get there so my buyer doesn't have to stand around waiting for him to come down.  I did have one buyer, however, about 2 years ago, a woman, who climbed up the ladder right behind the inspector and walked it right along with him.  You bet I was more than a little nervous but I certainly was not going up there.  Of course this buyer also went up into the atic (AKA...crawl space..this is Florida remember) with the inspector and seemed to be glued to his side the entire time.  She asked more questions and wanted more details than any buyer I have ever had.  By the end of the inspection this buyer knew every inch of the home and had no questions left.

Sep 04, 2010 09:35 PM #22
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