Dear Barry,

I bought my home about two years ago, and my home inspector listed no roof problems in his report. A year later, some of the shingles blew off. When I contacted the inspector, he brought some replacement shingles and nailed them in place. But more shingles blew off later, so I called a roofing contractor. He said the shingles are cracked, worn, and need to be replaced. The inspector says he only inspected the roof from the ground because of winter weather, and he insists that this is a common practice among home inspectors. Regardless of weather conditions, shouldn’t he have provided me with proper disclosure of the roof’s condition? –John

Dear John,

If the roof was wet at the time of the inspection, this may have prevented the inspector from walking on it. However, it should not have prevented him from setting his ladder against the eaves to get a closer look at the shingles. Inspecting shingles from the ground only, simply because of winter weather, could be an alibi for professional negligence. Barring unusual circumstances, the inspector should have taken a closer look. If he was unable to do so – for example, if the roof was covered with snow – the report should have stated that the roof inspection was incomplete and inconclusive, and further evaluation should have been recommended.

The standards of practice for roofing inspections are set forth by professional associations such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). Most home inspectors are members of one or more of these organizations and must comply with these standards. ASHI, for example, requires member inspectors to inspect roofing components that are readily accessible. A ladder would certainly enhance accessibility. NAHI is more specific in their roof inspection standards, stating that inspectors should inspect roof surfaces from arms-length distance or with binoculars from the ground.

Given these standards, your inspector should either have discovered that the shingles were defective or have recommended further review prior to your purchase of the property.

Dear Barry,

We have a lot of white dust around the walls of our basement. It sits in little piles on the floor, and we believe that it’s caused by the high water table in our area. A few years after moving in, our son developed asthma, and we’ve wondered if this could be an allergic reaction to the white dust. Can you give us any information that would help? –Kathleen

Dear Kathleen,

Without having seen the white dust, I presume that it is a substance called efflorescence, a formation of mineral salts often seen on concrete and masonry surfaces where moisture seepage occurs. Efflorescence is primarily a cosmetic nuisance that rarely has a significant effect on structural materials, and I’ve neither read nor heard of any health problems related to its presence. Preventing the continued formation of efflorescence may not be possible without significantly altering the drainage conditions on the property.

To determine whether any environmental conditions in your home could be affecting your son’s health, you should consult a certified industrial hygienist. They are generally listed in the yellow pages as industrial hygiene consultants.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription