Here are some examples of narratives from the Library. To allow inspectors a choice in how they comment, for some conditions, both long and short versions of narratives for the same condition are provided:
– QC means “Qualified Contractor”
The roof was covered with laminated fiberglass asphalt shingles, also called “architectural” or dimensional” shingles. Laminated shingles are composed of multiple layers bonded together. Fiberglass shingles are composed of a fiberglass mat embedded in asphalt and covered with ceramic-coated mineral granules. Shingles with multiple layers bonded together are usually more durable than shingles composed of a single layer.
The roof was covered with 3-tab fiberglass asphalt shingles. These shingles are composed of a fiberglass mat embedded in asphalt and covered with ceramic-coated mineral granules.
The roof was covered with 3-tab organic asphalt shingles. Organic shingles are composed of a cellulose or paper mat embedded in asphalt and covered with ceramic-coated mineral granules. Organic shingles are no longer manufactured. If this roof should suffer damage requiring shingle replacement, matching shingles may be difficult to find.
The roof was covered with asphalt shingles of an interlocking type called “T-lock”. T-lock shingles are no longer manufactured. If the roof is damaged or needs partial replacement, finding matching shingles may be difficult.
Widespread small blisters
Asphalt shingles covering the roof of this home had small blisters visible over widespread portions of the roof. Blisters are a cosmetic problem and do not cause premature failure of the roof.
Uniform granule loss
Asphalt shingles were old and had suffered noticeable uniform granule loss across the roof. Uniform granule loss is not considered by insurance companies or manufacturers to be a defective condition, but a natural result of the aging process. The bond between asphalt and granules deteriorates over time as asphalt loses volatile compounds, dries and shrinks. It does not affect the ability of the shingles to shed water.
Moderate craze cracking
The asphalt shingle roof had visible widespread moderate random hairline cracking that was not continuous through the shingle but was limited to the upper-most layer of asphalt. This condition is called craze cracking. Craze-cracking is a natural response to long-term weathering of the shingle asphalt surface layer and is a common sign of aging. Craze cracking typically appears toward the end of the shingle warranty, but appearance after 8 years is not unusual. Early craze cracking is a sign of poor shingle quality. Although unsightly, this condition alone does not limit the ability of the shingles to shed water or shorten their long-term service life, and so is not considered a defect by manufacturers or insurance companies unless splits through the shingle mat develop before the expiration of the shingle warranty period.
Installed over old asphalt shingles
Newer asphalt shingles were installed over a layer of older asphalt shingles.
This condition will result in the following:
- Reduced asphalt shingle service-life compared to similar shingles installed over a proper substrate.
- Any manufacturer’s warranty which may have been in effect will be void.
- Shingles will be more easily damaged by hail.
- Proper installation of new shingles will require removal of all roof-covering materials (including disposal costs).
Installed over wood roofing
The roof had composition asphalt shingles installed over a layer of wood shakes or shingles.
This condition will result in the following:
- Reduced asphalt shingle service-life compared to similar shingles installed over a proper substrate.
- Any warranty which may have been in effect will be void.
- Shingles will be more easily damaged by hail
- Proper installation of new shingles will require removal of all roof-covering materials (including disposal costs) and overlay of the existing spaced sheathing with a new layer of solid sheathing. This will be relatively expensive.
Single layer less than 4&12 improper
Underlayment beneath asphalt shingles was installed on a roof with a slope of less than 4&12, but the visible portions of the underlayment were not doubled as is typically required by shingle manufacturers and generally-accepted modern installation standards.
If underlayment has been installed in this manner across the entire roof, this condition will increase the chances of roof leakage.
Sidewall Flashing Deficiencies
Continuous sidewall flashing installed (short version)
Continuous flashing was installed at roof sidewalls. This is a defective installation. Manufacturer’s installation requirements are for the installation of step flashing at sidewalls. This condition may increase the chance of roof leakage at these areas. The inspector observed no evidence of leakage at these areas at the time of the inspection.
Inadequate bond, enough time (short version)
Inspection of representative areas across the roof indicated that asphalt shingles covering the roof were poorly bonded. At the time of the inspection, shingles had adequate time to bond. This condition will lower their resistance to wind damage.
Inadequate bond, enough time (long version)
Inspection of representative areas across the roof indicated that asphalt composition shingles covering the roof were poorly bonded. At the time of the inspection, shingles had adequate time to bond.
Asphalt shingles are manufactured with adhesive asphalt strips located beneath tabs that—after shingles are first installed—are designed to soften in the heat of the sun, bonding to the shingles in the course above. The desired result is that the entire shingle roof acts a single, unified membrane. Successful bonding of the shingles is the most important factor in determining the shingle roof’s resistance to wind damage.
A weak bond can be caused by different factors:
- Poor quality shingles can have inadequate or poor-quality adhesive strip materials (for which there are no manufacturing standards).
- High winds blowing at the time of installation can contaminate the adhesive strips with dust and dirt.
- Since adhesive strips are activated by heat, shingles installed during the winter may take months to bond fully. During this extended period, the adhesive strips may become contaminated by wind-blown dust and dirt.
Consider having shingles hand-sealed by a qualified roofing contractor to extend the long-term service life of the roof.
Inadequate bond,newer roof (short version)
Inspection of representative areas across the roof indicated that shingles covering the roof were inadequately bonded. Because the home is relatively new, the shingles may not yet have experienced enough warm weather over a long enough time period to promote shingle bonding. The time and temperatures required for adequate bonding can vary with shingle manufacturer and model.
Asphalt shingles covering the roof of this home showed deterioration typical of batch problems. Batches are groups of shingles made during the same production run from the same batch of asphalt. Batch problems are caused by installing shingles from different batches on the same roof. Over time, fairly small differences in shingle thickness or in the composition of the asphalt mix can affect the rate at which shingles deteriorate. The distinguishing characteristic indicating batch problems in strip shingles is the pattern of deterioration. It follows the offset pattern of installation. This condition is not a defect, but a difference in the speed of natural shingle aging.
Shingles appeared to be adequately protecting the home at the time of the inspection.
Comp shingles less than 2&12 improper
Asphalt shingles were installed on a roof with a slope with less than 2 inches of vertical rise in 12 inches of horizontal run (2&12). This is a defective installation.
Generally-accepted current standards and most manufacturer’s recommendations require that asphalt shingles not be installed on a roof with a slope less than 2 & 12. This condition increases the chance of roof leakage.
This condition will void any existing shingle manufacturer’s warranty that might otherwise be in effect.
Shingles racked- QC
Asphalt shingles covering the roof of this home were installed with joints aligned vertically at every other course. This installation method is called “racking”.
Racking is an improper installation method for many shingle types and models. It is acceptable but not preferred for some shingles types, and is the required method for a few shingle types. Research required to confirm proper installation exceeds the scope of the General Home inspection. The inspector recommends that before the expiration of your Inspection Objection Deadline, you have the roof examined by a by a qualified roofing contractor to confirm proper installation.
Both old and recent damage
Hail damage visible on the roof exhibited both grey asphalt indicating older damage, and dark asphalt indicating recent damage. This condition is typical of damage from two different storms.
Test Square results
The photo shows a 100 Sq. Ft. test square with hailstrikes within the square that qualified as functional damage marked with chalk.
CONCRETE TILE ROOF
Broken right corners
The interlocking concrete tile roof had a number of broken lower right corners. Tiles are thinnest at their edges where they interlock and lower corners are the weakest part of these thin areas. Tiles with broken sections that do not exceed the overlap (typically 3 inches) can be repaired. Tiles with broken sections that exceed the overlap should be replaced. All work should be performed by a qualified roofing contractor.
The concrete roof tiles had efflorescence visible. Efflorescence visible as a white, powdery residue is a sign that tiles are becoming more porous and absorbent. These characteristics are part of the natural aging process and can accelerate deterioration, especially in areas in which the temperature drops below freezing during the winter. Tiles appeared to be adequately protecting the home structure at the time of the inspection.
CLAY TILE ROOF
Caps failed mortar-bond- QC
Roof ridge and hip cap tiles were loose, displaced, or missing at the time of the inspection. This condition appeared to be due to failed mortar bond, which means that the mortar bonding other cap tiles to the roof is weak. The Inspector recommends an evaluation and any necessary work be performed by a qualified roofing contractor.
Flat headwall flashing
Flat headwall flashing was installed that did not conform to the tile profile. This condition leaves gaps that may allow wind-driven rain to penetrate the tile roof covering, increasing the chance of roof leakage. Correction would require installation of a type of headwall flashing that will conform to the tile profile. The Inspector observed no evidence of leakage at these areas at the time of the inspection.
Many failing fasteners- QC
Widespread loose, missing, or displaced slate tiles indicate widespread fastener failure. Widespread fastener failure of a slate roof can necessitate removal and replacement of all slate tiles. Removal and re-use of slates is difficult to do without causing excessive damage. Matching existing slates can be difficult because some slates change color as they age. The Inspector recommends that before the expiration of your Inspection Objection Deadline, you have the roof evaluated by a qualified roofing contractor. Not all roofing contractors will be qualified. You should examine the credentials of the roofer you hire carefully.
Poor fastening, valleys- QC
Slates were poorly fastened at valleys. Because installation at valleys sometimes requires cutting slates to a small size, extra holes must be punched in these slates to allow for an extra fastener. It appears that this was not done on this roof. This condition may cause roof leakage at the valley. Corrections should be made by a qualified roofing contractor.
Upside down slates
Some slates were installed upside down, leaving the nail holes exposed to view. This is the result of trying to re-use a slate with a broken butt and most often happens when slates are in short supply. It is an indication of poor quality work.
Slates were installed with an inadequate headlap. Modern slate installation standards specify that roofs at this pitch (slope) have a 3-inch headlap. “Headlap” is the amount by which slates in alternate (not adjacent) courses overlap. Inadequate headlap increases the chance of roof leakage. Correction would require removal and re-installation of the entire roof. The number of slates tiles now installed on the roof would be insufficient for complete re-installation with a proper headlap. Finding slates that match well can be difficult because slates that look similar to those now installed may change color over time. The Inspector observed no evidence of leakage at the time of the inspection.
Slate tiles were installed on a roof with a pitch (degree of slope) less than that recommended by the National Roofing Contractor’s Association (NRCA). Minimum recommended roof slope for slate tiles is 4 inches vertical rise in 12 horizontal inches (4 & 12). On roofs with valleys, the minimum pitch should be 5&12. Slates installed on a roof with inadequate pitch are considered decorative only and the roof should have waterproof underlayment installed. Underlayment on this roof was not a waterproof type.
The Inspector recommends that before the expiration of your Inspection Objection Deadline you consult with a qualified roofing contractor to discuss the severity of the problem and to learn about options and costs.
Curling, localized/moderate- OK
The wood shake roof-covering material exhibited widespread moderate amounts of curling. Shake curling is common. It is sometimes caused by placing fasteners too high, and can be a response to moisture absorption. Although it appears as if it would cause roof leakage, it seldom does. Shakes appeared to be adequately protecting the structure at the time of the inspection.
Exterior wall damage
The material covering the exterior of parapet walls had moisture damage visible at the time of the inspection. This condition is typically caused by failure to properly control roof drainage. You should consult with a qualified contractor before the expiration of your Inspection Objection Deadline to discuss options and costs for repair and methods for preventing future damage.
Load center service, sub-panels
Power company service cables fed a load center service panel containing a main disconnect and breakers that protected and controlled power to some branch circuits. The load center also supplied power to one or more sub-panels that contained breakers protecting and controlling other branch circuits.
Missing bonding screw- QC
The bonding screw was missing at the neutral bus bar of the service panel. Without a bonding screw (or other bonding device), the neutral bus bar, metal cabinet, and grounding system are not bonded (electrically connected). This condition is a safety concern and should be corrected by a qualified electrical contractor.
Clearance from trees- SP/QC
The overhead service-drop conductors had inadequate clearance from tree branches. This condition should be corrected by a qualified contractor or the utility service provider to avoid abrasion and damage to the conductors. Work around the service conductors should be performed by a qualified personnel only. Injury or death may result from attempts at correction by those without proper qualifications.
Although the 3-prong electrical receptacles installed in this home typically indicate a home with grounded branch wiring, this home had no grounding system installed. This condition is especially dangerous because it leads those using the electrical system to believe they are protected by a grounding system when they are not. All 3-prong electrical receptacles should be labeled as ungrounded, or replaced with two-prong receptacles. Although ungrounded electrical systems may have been commonly considered safe or acceptable at the time the home was originally constructed, as general knowledge of safe building practices has improved with the passage of time, building standards have changed to reflect current understanding. For safety reasons, the Inspector recommends that receptacles located in basements, crawlspaces, garages, the home exterior, and interior receptacles located within 6 feet of a plumbing fixture be provided with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection in good working order to help avoid potential electric shock or electrocution hazards. This can be achieved relatively inexpensively by:
1. Replacing an individual standard receptacle with a GFCI receptacle.
2. Replacing the electrical circuit receptacle located closest to the overcurrent protection device (usually a breaker) with a GFCI receptacle.
3. Replacing breakers protecting electrical circuits with GFCI breakers.
Adding equipment grounding and a service grounding system will also increase home safety.
Sub-panel fused neutral- QC
This sub-panel had a fused neutral conductor. This condition is improper and dangerous. If the neutral conductor is connected to a fuse that blows, the system will appear to be turned off because electricity will not flow, but the load side of the system will still be energized. Someone could accidentally come into contact with energized electrical components because they mistakenly think the system is not energized. The Inspector recommends correction by a qualified electrical contractor.
Some conventional inoperable- QC
Some exterior conventional electrical receptacles were inoperable at the time of the inspection and should be replaced by a qualified electrical contractor. The Inspector recommends that all exterior electrical receptacles be provided with ground fault circuit interruptor (GFCI) protection for safety reasons.
Inadequate clearance to combustibles
The combustion exhaust vent for this gas-fired water heater had inadequate clearance from combustibles. This type of exhaust vent requires 1-inch clearance from combustible materials. This condition is a potential fire hazard and should be corrected by a qualified contractor.
No sediment trap- QC
No sediment trap was installed. Sediment traps are installed to keep particulates and moisture out of the gas valve. Particulates or moisture in the gas valve can interfere with gas supply to the burners. The Inspector recommends installation of a sediment trap by a qualified plumbing contractor.
Too close to return-air- QC
This gas-fired water heater was located too close a return-air vent. In drawing air from the room for re-heating at the furnace, the return-air system may draw the toxic products of gas combustion from the water heater combustion exhaust flue into the living space. This process is called “backdrafting” and is potentially dangerous. The recommended minimum separation is 10 feet. The Inspector recommends this condition be corrected by a qualified HVAC technician or plumbing contractor.
Water pipes no bond- QC
The inspector observed no bonding of water distribution pipes in the home. Electrical bonding of the water pipes helps to ensure that safe conditions exist if the pipes should somehow come into contact with electrical wiring and become energized. Bonding of water pipes is required in new homes by generally-accepted modern safety standards. Although it may not have been required at the time the home was originally constructed, a safety measure the Inspector recommends that water pipes be bonded by a qualified electrical contractor.
Dissimilar metal hangers, copper pipe- QC
Copper water distribution pipes were hung from hardware made from a metal other than copper. This condition has resulted in galvanic corrosion of the copper pipes that- if not corrected- will cause premature failure of the pipes that will require their replacement. The Inspector recommends correction by a qualified contractor.
Improper condensate discharge- waste pipe- QC
High-efficiency furnace exhaust produces condensate fluid that must be properly discharged. The condensate tube for this high-efficiency furnace discharged directly into a sewage drain pipe, but no trap was installed in the condensate tube. This condition may result in toxic sewer gas entering into the living space. The Inspector recommends correction by a qualified HVAC contractor.
Fire mitigation needed (short version)
Fire mitigation was needed! You should consult with your local fire department concerning the best method for performing mitigation to protect your home from wildfires.
Fire mitigation needed (long version)
Fire mitigation was needed!
You should consider creating Defensible Space around your home by following your State Forest Service Guidelines.
Defensible space is an area around a structure within which fuels and vegetation are treated, cleared, or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire towards the structure. It also reduces the chance of a structure fire moving from the building to the surrounding forest.
ZONE 1 is the area of maximum modification and treatment. It consists of an area of 15 feet around the structure in which all flammable vegetation is removed. This 15 foot dimension is measured from the outside edge of the home’s eaves and from any attached structures, such as decks.
ZONE 2 is an area of fuel reduction. It is a transitional area between Zones 1 and 3. The size of Zone 2 depends on the slope of the ground where the structure is built. Typically, the defensible space should extend at least 75 to 125 feet from the structure. Within zone 2, the continuity and arrangement of vegetation is modified. Remove stressed, diseased, dead or dying trees and shrubs. Thin and prune the remaining larger trees and shrubs.
ZONE 3 is an area of traditional forest management and is of no particular size. It extends from the edge of your defensible space to your property boundaries.
Tree root foundation damage- arborist
Roots from a tree located near the foundation may cause foundation damage as the tree grows and the root system expands. Monitor this area of the foundation during the growing season (usually May through September) for signs of damage. If signs of damage appear (such as cracks) the tree may need to be removed. The potential for damage from tree roots varies with tree species. Consider evaluation by a qualified arborist.
Large trees near the house have limbs that overhang the home. Falling limbs due to conditions such as wood decay, high winds or heavy snow loads may cause injury, death or damage. Significant weakening of large limbs by conditions such as core decay may not be readily apparent to those without special training. Consider having these trees evaluated by a qualified arborist. Evaluating trees lies beyond the scope of the general Home Inspection.
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