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Broken roof Tiles


homnspector
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I was forwarded a sellers response today that blames me for broken roof tiles.

It was a new house, but with lots of little problems. I didn't expect any major problems on the roof. When I first stepped from the ladder I could see several broken tiles. I shouted down to the buyer and agent, "man, there are a lot of broken tiles" and proceeded to inspect the roof, I counted about 30.

Seems the seller had a previous inspection that didn't mention any broken tiles who had "viewed the roof from a ladder".

These are concrete tiles, I weigh about 140 and can run up and down a tile roof without breaking tile.

They spoke to the roofer and apparently are working up a bill for the broken tiles, no doubt to be presented to me.

I have several photos but don't know if that will help. Funny thing is I said to the buyer and agent after getting off the roof, "you are my witnesses that I didn't break any tile in case they were not reported on the last inspection". I had a feeling that the last inspection was pretty poor based on the obvious items that hadn't been repaired.

Also, the roofer said I had no business being on the roof unless I am a licensed roofer. I wonder how many of his workers are licensed roofers? Is permission to access the roof implied when the seller agrees to an inspection?

How would you handle this?

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That blows, Fritz. Sorry.

I'm going through something similar this week with a leaking dishwasher, but have a slightly better defense. Your situation is more he-said/she-said. What else can you do other than hold your ground? Wait and see what the alleged repair cost is gonna be. If it's less than a thousand or two, the sellers likely won't come after you since their legal fees would exceed the remedy.

I locked up a house today, got into my truck, sat there a second or two, then went back inside to make absolutely certain all the plumbing fixtures were turned off--all because of the damaged-floor fiasco I've been dealing with this week. Paranoia is not a cool thing.

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They have no case. I would be polite, but wouldn't pay them a dime. If they wanted to go to court they would have to overcome the testimony of two witnesses who were standing there at the time, and convince the jury you took photos of the tiles after you broke them. I'd love to hear what your motive for that was supposed to be.

The roofer is full of crap. You're a licensed home inspector, which gives you as much right to be up there as a licensed roofer, IMHO. And I would definitely say agreement to allow an inspection certainly includes the roof.

They'll probably try to scare you into handing over some cash, but they have nothing.

Brian G.

Not One Dime [:-dog]

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I can understand your first instinct, but remember how this looks from where they sit. The last guy said the roof was fine (ha-ha). They want to believe you blew it, not him.

They're also feeling the pressure from trying to sell and hitting a big problem in the inspection, so they're reacting emotionally instead of thinking it through. Unless they're cynically angling for cash, odds are the truth will sink in and they'll grudgingly drop the whole thing in less than a week. If they happen to be nuts, all bets are off. [;)]

Brian G.

"There's a fool born every minute, and they all live" Grandpa Goodman [:-irked]

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As Brian noted: "emotions" ... sellers when presented with the buyer's request for repairs or $$ at closing to cover for certain items can evoke big-time emotions.

Most times sellers don't think anything is wrong with "their home".

So many times on inspections the seller has been about and asks what I've found and how bad is it? I never tip any hand, but I can feel the "emotional sensitivity".

Stand firm !

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I agree Stand firm.

I used to deal with this 2-3 times a week on new homes.

Back in my new days I got the call, you voided the warranty, and broke the tiles by walking on the roof, we will be billing you.

After that call I called the local ASHI chapter attorney.

His reply was, if you didn't break them tell them that and let them prove that you did.

This comment in my report [on new homes] has stopped the calls from the builder for the past few months .

NOTE: Walking on tile roofs.

The roof was walked on per the manufactures guide lines as identified in www.rooftile.org. All Photos provided by this state licensed inspector identifying broken, chipped, improperly installed roof tiles were taken, prior to walking on the damaged tiles or surrounding areas.

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Originally posted by homnspector

When I first stepped from the ladder I could see several broken tiles. I shouted down to the buyer and agent, "man, there are a lot of broken tiles" and proceeded to inspect the roof, I counted about 30.

Funny thing is I said to the buyer and agent after getting off the roof, "you are my witnesses that I didn't break any tile in case they were not reported on the last inspection".

How would you handle this?

Well, since you ask, I would've reported, in writing, what I saw, and I would've described the damage so that anybody who looked at the roof later could not blame me. (A little paranoia is a good thing. Sometimes, people really are after you.)

Nothing wrong with oral communication during the inspection, but written documentation is, IMHO, better.

Unless the buyers and RE agent went up the ladder and saw that there were no broken tiles, they can't back up your claim that you didn't break anything. (They're not experts anyway. Probably wouldn't know the difference between an intact or broken tile.)

Also, once I got to the top of the ladder (or any other place where I could see the broken tiles), I would've taken pictures of the broken tiles, climbed down the ladder, and shown the pictures to the customers and other interested parties. Then, alerted to the breakability of the tiles, I would've stayed off the roof (which I would've done anyway, but that's just me).

Somewhat off-topic, but if I were the owner of the house, I wouldn't let anybody walk on my concrete tiles anyhow. It's asking for trouble.

If I were the HI, and this being a newish house, I would've assumed cheap materials and poor workmanship, and figured any roof-walking, regardless of the size of the walker, would likely result in broken tiles. Somebody broke 'em, don't you think?

WJid="blue">

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"Also, once I got to the top of the ladder (or any other place where I could see the broken tiles), I would've taken pictures of the broken tiles, climbed down the ladder, and shown the pictures to the customers and other interested parties."

Good advice, I'll try that next time or on groundhog day....

"Somewhat off-topic, but if I were the owner of the house, I wouldn't let anybody walk on my concrete tiles anyhow. It's asking for trouble."

Problem with that approach is you will see what the last inspector saw; nothing.

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Originally posted by homnspector

"Also, once I got to the top of the ladder (or any other place where I could see the broken tiles), I would've taken pictures of the broken tiles, climbed down the ladder, and shown the pictures to the customers and other interested parties."

Good advice, I'll try that next time or on groundhog day....

"Somewhat off-topic, but if I were the owner of the house, I wouldn't let anybody walk on my concrete tiles anyhow. It's asking for trouble."

Problem with that approach is you will see what the last inspector saw; nothing.

Well, bear in mind that in this hypothetical situation, I would be the homeowner wanting to keep the HI off my roof. So, I wouldn't being looking at the roof. I'd be looking at the guy looking at the roof, and I'd want him to be in a bucket truck.

Now that HI #1 is gone, none of the parties will ever know what he saw, unless he decides to tell them. If he does decide to say something, he's surely going to say that the tiles were fine when he left them; and, he'll say that he did his inspection from a ladder to make sure he didn't do any damage.

I've never inspected modern concrete roof tiles, so I Googled "walk on concrete roof tiles," hoping for a quick education. It wasn't an exhaustive Googling, but just about everything I read admonished folks to stay off concrete tiles. I found suggestions that a person mounting such a roof should crawl (not walk) the roof; stay on a chicken ladder; and/or, lie on a sheet of plywood.

You could be totally in the right on this job, and I hope you are. But if the sellers or their agent can Google, they're going to have some ammo.

WJid="blue">

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Unless the buyers and RE agent went up the ladder and saw that there were no broken tiles, they can't back up your claim that you didn't break anything. (They're not experts anyway. Probably wouldn't know the difference between an intact or broken tile.)

I agree they can't testify that the inspector didn't break any tiles, but the fact he told them he saw a lot of broken tiles before setting foot on the roof isn't meaningless. If I were on the jury and I thought the inspector, client, and agent were credible people, I'd give that testimony a significant amount of weight.

Somewhat off-topic, but if I were the owner of the house, I wouldn't let anybody walk on my concrete tiles anyhow. It's asking for trouble.

I've never seen one, so I'll leave that debate to you gentlemen.

Brian G.

Been in a Ce-ment Pond, But Not on Any Ce-ment Tiles [:-slaphap

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

NOTE: Walking on tile roofs.

The roof was walked on per the manufactures guide lines as identified in www.rooftile.org.

If you don't mind me asking, where are those guidelines? I clicked on the link, navigated the website, and didn't find any guidelines for walking on roof tiles.

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It looks like the domain rooftile.org got grabbed by Hitfarm, which uses expired popular websites for selling ad space. (Be sure to renew your domains before they expire - deys vultures circlin').

The domain was probably previously owned by the Tile Roofing Institute, which is now at: www.tileroofing.org/tileroofing/index.aspx. The guidelines for walking concrete tile roofs is probably in the installation manuals.

FWIW, I've seen (and read) manufacturers' instructions for walking concrete tile roofs. In 21 years, I've only seen about a half dozen and inspected them by walking the roof, without breaking any tiles. But, at 140 lbs, Homnspector is probably one of the very few HIs lighter than me.

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Originally posted by SonOfSwampI've never inspected modern concrete roof tiles, so I Googled "walk on concrete roof tiles," hoping for a quick education. It wasn't an exhaustive Googling, but just about everything I read admonished folks to stay off concrete tiles. I found suggestions that a person mounting such a roof should crawl (not walk) the roof; stay on a chicken ladder; and/or, lie on a sheet of plywood.

You could be totally in the right on this job, and I hope you are. But if the sellers or their agent can Google, they're going to have some ammo.

WJ

id="blue">

Hi Walter,

Did you try searching TIJ? We've had that discussion here before and it was either Scott Warga or Cris Prickett, both of whom seem to have been swallowed up by the abyss and don't visit anymore (Waaahhh! [:-weepn]) who described how he safely walks tile roofs in the Pheonix area almost every day, and doesn't break any, and explained the method to do so.

We have a kickass word-searchable data base. Click on "home" on the menu bar above and then use the search feature on the front page to search for walking roofs, roof walking, tile roofs and such. I bet you'll find that post.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

(Pssst, hey, Scott!; Chris!; where the frak are you guys?)

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

NOTE: Walking on tile roofs.

The roof was walked on per the manufactures guide lines as identified in www.rooftile.org.

If you don't mind me asking, where are those guidelines? I clicked on the link, navigated the website, and didn't find any guidelines for walking on roof tiles.

WJid="blue">

Looks like I'm going to have to update my info.

The resource I'm using is from General information Pg 8 from the ROOF TILE INSTITUTE/WSRCA Revised 9/2002.

It states.. If necessary to walk on the tile surface, pressure should only be applied on the headlap of the tile units [lower 3-4 inches]

It goes on to state when working on adjoining walls safely cover the tile surface with secured plywood.

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Originally posted by Bain

Do your states require licensing specific to roofing? Do roofers have to take tests or demonstrate competency in any way? We don't have anything like that. A contractor's license has to be obtained, but it's little more than a registration process.

Arizona requires the contractor or a qualifing party to take an exam.

Employees are hired off the street by applying for a job from ad posted on a piece of plywood in front of the job site, stating roofers wanted,written in spray paint.

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Originally posted by inspecthistoric

FWIW, I've seen (and read) manufacturers' instructions for walking concrete tile roofs. In 21 years, I've only seen about a half dozen and inspected them by walking the roof, without breaking any tiles. But, at 140 lbs, Homnspector is probably one of the very few HIs lighter than me.

I envy our 140-pound brother. I think I hit 140 around 6th grade. Now, not to go all anecdotal-scientific, but I don't think the roof walker's weight would necessarily be the toe that broke the tile's back, so to speak. I know that a 100-lb. woman in stilletos can tear up a wood floor in a day's time. It's a pounds-per-square-inch thing. I'm just guessing, but I'd say that my size 12 EEEEs might be less likely to break a tile than the smaller foot of a much lighter person. Feet like mine spread the load.

I freely admit, though, that I'm no expert when it comes to modern concrete tile. The closest I got to that kind of tile was 50- 80-year-old asbestos/cement tile. That stuff's brittle. I wouldn't walk on it. If somebody really wanted me to look at that stuff from above, they'd have to rent me a bucket truck.

WJid="blue">

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For those that haven't walked a flat tile roof, the tiles are really pretty strong, they are about 3/4 inch thick concrete. Yes, they will break if you step in the center or if they are lifted up by another tile.

Here is a portion of the e-mail I sent the agent today. I don't know if this falls in the "polite" category but is hopefully not too inflammatory.

"There is nothing prohibiting anybody but a licensed roofer walking a roof. If so, most roof laborers would be out of work. Permission to access the roof is implied when the seller agrees to a home inspection. I walk on tile roofs (with the exception of clay tile) a few times a week and can only remember 1 time I have cracked a tile and it was not on this home. I have the photos which clearly show that these cracks and breaks are not new. Chris was on the ground watching me walk the roof. In fact, as soon as I got up the ladder I called down to him that I was seeing a lot of broken tile. I don't know how many of the broken tile would be visible without walking on the roof, probably not many.

I will not be paying for replacing any broken tile.

I counted about 30 broken tile. It seems the seller or builder is claiming that as I walked I broke the tile. Rather than getting off the roof, I continued to walk and break more and more tile. Not only that, but I took pictures of all the tile I broke! I weigh about 140 lbs, so walking on the roof was not adequate, I actually had to jump up and down, stomp, etc. to break the tile. Does this make sense to you? Oh, and I almost forgot, I would also have to have absolutely no integrity."

Comments are welcome (yes Walter, I think there may be a dangling participle or two), thanks for the feedback so far.

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It's a little defensive/combative, which is understandable, but nothing there is rude or over the line.

originally posted by sonofswamp

The closest I got to that kind of tile was 50- 80-year-old asbestos/cement tile. That stuff's brittle. I wouldn't walk on it. If somebody really wanted me to look at that stuff from above, they'd have to rent me a bucket truck.

I see those once and a while, always on historic houses, and I wouldn't consider putting my foot on one either. I did walk up a wide metal valley once.

Brian G.

First, Do No Harm (The Hippocratic Oath)

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Well, like I said I have broken tiles by walking on them, hasn't anybody else? Anyway its really hard to get a single clean break like those in the fotos. I have never broken any while walking on the head lap; you have to step in the middle of the tile. Now it might be in some cases that they initially break along one line but as your weight travels down to the deck it has always for me produced secondary breaks and it looks just like someone stepped in the middle of the tile and the tile tends to break into triangular pieces.

Swarga or Prickett should have some insight like Hausdok said.

Chris, Oregon

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As a secondary note, I stepped onto the very first tile roof I ever looked at and immediately broke 2 tiles while trying to step on the headlap area. They were Bartile brand tiles from the 1950's. I ended up driving 100 miles round trip the following day to a huge salvage yard up in Snohomish county where one can get every kind of used roof tile imaginable, purchasing two tiles for $24 and then installing them myself. I guess in the end I probably made about $10 on that job and learned not to walk on tile roofs.

If I wanted to walk on one now, I'd probably go to home depot, purchase some plywood and some of that non-slip matting that looks like it belongs under a carpet and fabricate a pair of snowshoe-like roof shoes that would spread the weight out over a wider area than my feet. I've got one or two old pairs of combat boots around here; I could literally bolt a pair of plywood plates to the soles using some stove bolts and glue a bunch of that non-skid matting to the sole of the plywood pads. They wouldn't work for other types of roofs but they'd probably work fine for tile. Still, that's me and I'm very comfortable and confident on roofs of just about any height. As long as the flat sole of my foot will grip without slipping, I'm not going anywhere.

Hmmm, maybe I should get into the business of manufacturing tile roof walking shoes. I could call them Bozo Shoes or something like that. [:-clown]

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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