Home inspector understates roof problems

Who's liable for surprise expenses?

DEAR BARRY: Before we bought our house, we hired a home inspector. He said the roof was worn and needed a few bundles of wood shakes for patching. The seller said there used to be some leaking but assured us that this had been repaired.

After moving in, we noticed a hole in the roofing and called the inspector to reconsider this omission in his report. He agreed to install a metal patch and invited me onto the roof for a look. What I saw was disturbing.

The condition of the shakes was worse than stated in the inspection report. After this, I got repair bids from three roofing contractors. Each of them stated that the roof needed replacement. This was a major shock, considering the huge expense of reroofing. Shouldn’t our home inspector have alerted us to this? –Dave

DEAR DAVE: Roofing is an important aspect of a thorough home inspection. Competent home inspectors make a concerted effort to discover and disclose conditions that compromise the reliability or longevity of a roof. It is surprising, therefore, that the deteriorated condition of your shakes was not disclosed by your inspector. Even if the shakes were functional, the fact that they were badly worn demanded disclosure.