The Inspector Who™ Saved Thousands on Rot, Leaks and Erosion

The home inspector stood staring up at the beautifully tiled roof. The sun cast shadows along the terra cotta interlocking tiles, highlighting their beautiful texture. The tiles worked well on the steep roof, offering a low profile, but something just didn’t look right. He went back to his truck and pulled out an extension ladder, grabbed his camera and climbed up to take a better look at the tile roof. He noticed that in a curved portion of the roof there was a ridge cap installed where there should have been a gutter edge. The roof was curved at this particular place, so he thought it likely that the contractor who installed the other gutters could not figure out how to make a curved gutter.

Whatever the reason for the defect, the inspector knew that water was going to run down the side of the house and erode the façade. It might leak into the house through windows and rot them. Water would absolutely erode the soil at the home’s foundation and would probably result in foundation leaks. Just because a simple gutter system had not been installed, a whole lot of damage could occur to this home.

The cost for a seamless gutter system will vary depending on the area you live in. The gutters themselves range from $3 to $6 per square foot, and seamed gutters are a little cheaper. Installation can range depending on the contractor, but will average somewhere around $11 per square foot. The average gutter installation job will cost around 2-5,000 dollars depending on the size of the roof, the area you live and the material you decide to use.

According to insurance company property and casualty claim data, water damage costs both homeowners and insurance companies thousands of dollars for each claim. In 2002 in California, alone, water damage claims exceeded $500,000,000. The average amount of water damage claims is steadily increasing each year from $2,577 in 1988 to $5,256 in 2003. And claim estimates continue to rise. State Farm Insurance reported that the average cost for water claims in 2008 was approximately $15,000.

Compare the average gutter installation of between $2,000 to $5,000 to the average cost of a water damage claim in 2008 which was around $15,000, and that home inspector saved more than $10,000 for that home owner.

As water damage claims skyrocket, the home inspector’s job takes on new importance. Stopping water damage at its origin, in this case by installing proper gutters, can save millions in water damage losses. Home inspectors sometimes have a challenging task identifying how moisture enters buildings and causes damage, but their building inspection findings can significantly save homeowners.

More home inspectors as they make recommendations should recognize this trend, and should protect themselves by purchasing errors and omissions insurance. Identifying the sources of potential damage and danger is just part of the home inspector’s job, as is the knowledge that when done right, that home inspection report could earn him the title of being “The inspector who saved….”

*Notice not all inspectors will inspect the roof of a residential home; be sure to verify if the inspector you chose offers this service.