Roof Certifications

In Washington State, many lenders require that the roof on a home being financed will last at least 5 more years from the date of sale. While we would like to think that the lenders require certs to protect their clients, they may also be concerned with their own interests:

1) In the event of foreclosure and repossession, lenders do not want to have
to replace the roof in order to sell the home.

2) Lenders may not want their new clients (the buyer) to face any large
unforeseen home improvement expenses in the first few years (presumably after
making a substantial down payment), which might impede their ability to make
their monthly payments on time.

3) From a financial perspective, the 5 year certification requirement may
also create additional business for the lenders since the cost of replacing
the roof is often included in the sale price of the home, resulting in more
volume. While we are occasionally asked for two or three year certs, the norm
is 5 years.

What is a Roof Certification?
A roof certification is a professional roofer’s best estimate and opinion
about the life expectancy of a roof. Technically, a roofer is not able to
determine absolutely if a roof has been installed properly. While the
flashings may appear to have been installed correctly, the course pattern
fine, and the condition of the shingles good, there is no way
for example, that he can determine whether the correct number of nails have
been used in each shingle or shake without damaging the roof.

Consequently, it is not reasonable to expect the roofer who certifies a roof
to “Guarantee” someone else’s workmanship which he cannot evaluate
conclusively. If he does this he opens himself up to tremendous liability.

While inspecting the roof, the certifier should determine if there are any
possible problems which should be addressed or fixed to insure that the roof
will last. The certifier should guarantee the roof against leaks and be
prepared to repair any leaks during that 5 year period, free of charge. The
contractor who certifies a roof should also take full responsibiIity for any
work done by others as a result of his inspection and recommendation. He needs to put himself on the line. If the contractor doesn’t have anything to loose by certifying a roof, the cert is
meaningless.

A roof certification should not involve any form of “risk management” where
the roofer accepts liability based upon the size of the job and his potential
liability. After an inspection and repairs have been completed, the roof
either certifies or it doesn’t. Period. If the contractor feels uneasy about
certifying a roof after repairs have been performed, then he needs to do
additional repairs to get the roof to a level where he feels comfortable
providing a certification. The certification is simply a piece of paper. Any substantial money spent on the roof should be allocated for repairs or replacement—not toward an
insurance policy against future leaks. If you are paying more than $400 for a
roof certification, you are paying too much.

The contractor asked to inspect a roof should do so with as much objectivity
as possible. Siding with either the buyer or the seller will eventually create
conflicts and will cause the contractor to loose credibility. He should simply
call it like it is. While many factors come into play during a roof
inspection, the bottom line is whether or not the roof will last another 5
years without leaking. A composition roof installed by a homeowner might not have the proper or recommended pattern, but it might be perfectly adequate in terms of keeping the home waterproof for 5 more years.

For more information download our brochure “Roofing Issues for Buyers & Sellers”: