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Home Inspection Finds Roof was Improperly Installed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 posted by Tommi Crow

Dear InfoTube,

We are under contract to purchase a brand new home that is ideal for our family.   Unfortunately, the home inspection revealed that the brand, new roof was improperly installed.  It seems that the builder did not use felt, drip edge or flashing before he installed the shingles.  The shingles were nailed directly to the plywood decking.  The inspector also noted that many of the nails were set too deeply, which caused depressions into the asphalt material and would likely cause roof leaks.

After discussing our findings with the builder, he admitted that he knew about the missing roof materials, but he refused to replace the new roof due to the cost.  The builder insists that the missing materials are unessential and pose no problem for us.  He also gave us his personal guarantee that he would fix any problems that might come up in the future, if we would go ahead with the purchase.

We are now faced with a huge dilemma.  First of all, we love the location, floorplan and lot.   The house is just perfect for our needs.  Secondly, we have invested nearly $1500 for the inspection, appraisal, loan application fee, etc., which we would lose if we back out of the sale.    We would really appreciate your input about this situation.  We love the house, but the roof problem scares us, even with the builder’s promises.  We are scheduled to close and move in a couple of weeks.  Please give us your opinion about what we should do.

Thank you, T Thornton, NC

Dear T Thornton,

Let me reassure you that drip edge, felt and flashing are essential parts of a roof system and improper installation voids any manufacturer’s warranty.  Furthermore, it is very unlikely that your lender would give you a loan for this property, once they discovered the problem.

Secondly, I found myself asking“What kind of seller would “cheat” on a new roof and what else is he hiding?” A new roof is a strange thing for a builder to cheat on.  The roof is a basic structural system of a home.  In addition, it is huge and highly visable to the eye.   It is very concerning, to say the least, that the seller knew about this problem and lied to cover it up.   One has to wonder what else has he cheated on and lied about, that might not be as easy to see as the short cuts he took on the roof?

This situation poses a serious problem for you, the lender and the seller on many levels.   First, the builder’s non-disclosure of the known problem with the roof could likely be considered fraud.  Secondly, his guarantee to fix future problems is unenforcable in a court of law.  Contracts for the “promise” of future services, which is what this seller offered you, is illegal in all 50 states.  Think about it.   If this seller becomes disabled, leaves the area, goes broke, dies, etc., how could he possibly honor his promise to you, even if he wanted to?

My honest opinion is that you should RUN, not walk, from this deal.  Instead of being disappointed, you should be very thankful that you had a good home inspection that revealed the truth before you closed.   The good news is that the inventory of unsold homes are at historical high levels.  This means you should find plenty of homes, owned by honest sellers, that suit your families needs.   Given the seller’s blatant dishonesty, you should insist that the builder refund your earnest money, buy your appraisal and reimburse you for the inspection report.   If he hesitates or refuses to do so, you should consult an attorney, immediately.

If you have your heart set on buying this home, you should know that you are taking a big chance.  At the very least, you should at insist that the builder install a new roof.  You are paying a premium to buy a new home, so you should receive a new roof, not one with known problems.  You should also insist that the builder transfer all manufacturer’s warranties for the roof, and all other systems in the house, to you at closing.

Thank you for writing to   I hope everything works out for you, but I seriously hope you walk away from this one.   Everything about this home may appear pretty on the outside, but one would be foolish to not fear what kind of ugliness may be lurking beneath the surface.