Roofing today, typically involves gravel and tar or what is commonly known as built-up roofing. Gravel can be a potential problem because over time it can move, leaving an uneven distribution. When this happens, open spaces on the roof surface are exposed to sun and other extreme elements and are quickly damaged. The sooner damage is identified, the easier it is to fix and the less expensive it will be.

Property owners and buyers need to be aware of this and understand the importance of a roof when it comes to the value of a building. Anyone can see when a roof is clearly damaged, but there often is subtle damage that cannot be seen. Buyers are advised by the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) to conduct a roof inspection as part of the evaluation process. A competent inspector will walk the roof and identify any concerns or potential problems.

The only times that an inspector cannot and should not walk on the roof are:

  • When the roof is too high
  • When the pitch is too steep
  • When there is obvious damage present already
  • When there is snow, ice or moss making it slippery
  • When there are tiles that can break easily underfoot pressure

An inspector could identify uneven gravel distribution or ponding. Ponding occurs when standing water collects as a result of an inadequate pitch which is usually from substandard framing during construction or a sagging roof structure. Ponding can also occur when drains are blocked, which is why it is critical to keep drains clear. Identification of these problems can mean easier and cheaper repairs and can also be used in negotiations when it comes to buying a commercial building.

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