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Confusion exists in Arizona regarding the walking of concrete tile roofs by Arizona home inspectors during their evaluation. Home builder representatives often verbally explain during a final walk-thru that if the home inspector walks the tile roof, it will void the roof warranty. This announcement is now being repeated on resale home inspections where the seller or seller’s agent will attempt to keep the home inspector off the roof using the same statement. Becoming informed is the best way to deal with this important issue.

Home inspectors have been successfully walking concrete tile roofs in Arizona for more than 20 years. Repair personnel have also been successful walking tile roofs in the course of their work. It is agreed that a tile roof should not be walked unless absolutely necessary, however, the pre-purchase inspection of a home constitutes one of those “absolutely necessary” occasions. Builders and home sellers are quoting a typical tile manufacturers warranty exclusions about damage caused by “roof traffic”. If damage were to be caused by a home inspector, it stands to reason that the only warranty that could be voided is the tile integrity section of the warranty related to any individual tiles the home inspector breaks. The installation warranty that the builder must provide would remain in force. The builder cannot avoid their obligation to install the roof properly simply because a home inspector walked the roof to discover the installation defects.

Concrete roof tile is actually a very strong product that is able to be carefully walked by trained personnel. When you review the tile manufacturer’s care and maintenance documents you find that they actually provide instruction as to the method of walking a concrete tile roof. Clearly, the concrete tile manufacturer is endorsing the careful walking of concrete roof tile when absolutely necessary. Below are some statements from the tile manufacturers own documents:

  • It is recommended that you step at the bottom three inches of the installed tile. This section is supported by the lapped tile beneath it and the weight is then transferred through it to the deck below.
  • Orient your feet in a horizontal direction. Try to distribute your weight evenly and walk as softly as possible.
  • Valleys are ideal access paths . . .

After a roof installation is completed, it is supposed to be walked by a superintendent to be sure that it was properly installed. If repairs are needed, the roof must be walked in order to access the affected area. These people are not using helicopters and man lifts. They walk the roof. It is among the occasions when walking the roof is “absolutely necessary”. The same holds true for when a home inspector is hired to do an evaluation.

This trend is especially troublesome because roofing defects and improper installation issues rank among the most frequent problems found during an Arizona home inspection. If the home inspector is prohibited from walking concrete tile roofs, it will simply be excluded from the inspection and eventually undiscovered roof defects will cause major damage. I suggest you insist on the home inspector being allowed access to the roof.

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