March, 2008
You Tell Us
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Comment about "Common Defects"


To the editor:
I’m commenting on the January Reporter article “Common Defects Across the Country” by Jennifer G. Prokopy.

Specifically, Andrew Polmer in New Orleans makes the statement, “We can tell people confidently, ‘if your roof is more than six or seven years old, you should replace it, because we could get a wind event in the next year and a problematic shingle might not take another storm like it took the last one.’”

I find it astonishing that a professional home inspector could make this kind of a statement to a client. And “confidently,” it is totally arbitrary and capricious. Yes, we get wind storms in central Pennsylvania, too … a tornado touched down nearby four years ago. But do I tell a client to go out and retrofit the house for wind and seismic forces “just in case” … no way. In my opinion, Mr. Polmer may have protected his backside, but he certainly did his client a disservice. If the client followed his recommendation, he would spend a lot of money prematurely and unwisely.

Roger J. Olson, P.E. , Retired ASHI Member
Hershey, Penn.

For the purpose of the article, “Common Defects Across the Country,” home inspectors were asked to provide examples of local concerns. The editor choose Andrew Polmer’s conversation to reflect how home inspectors factor in local conditions, in this case frequent severe storms in the Gulf Coast region. It was not intended to imply that this was the only factor he considers when inspecting a home.

Response from Andrew Polmer: 
ASHI Code of Ethics 2.A requires inspectors to, “Express opinions based upon
genuine conviction ...” After witnessing the performance of conventional asphalt shingles that were seven or more years old post-Hurricane Katrina in 2005 compared to improved asphalt shingles less than seven years old, it is my conviction that the best interest of a homebuyer is to replace an older roof with a newer one in order to minimize water entry from the roof should another category 3 or greater storm pass this way again. In addition, many roofs that I have inspected post-Katrina show signs of failed seals, whereby wind lift has lifted the shingle, which remains intact but does not reseal afterwards.

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