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Homeowner says inspector overlooked roof damage, inspector disagrees

Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 18:39:43-05

Cape Coral, Fla. — A case of who to blame, with everyone pointing fingers at the next person. A homeowner says a local inspector he hired failed to find damage to a roof, that will now cost him thousands of dollars to replace.

Kelly Whitmer and his wife bought a Cape Coral home last October. Less than a month later, Hurricane Eta passed through.

“We started seeing some spotting in the ceiling and the kitchen,” he said.

His forever home was now tainted. That was shocking to him, because prior to closing, he hired a local home inspector who told him other than some patchwork, the roof was perfectly fine.

After Eta, Whitmer hired a roofing contractor who found rusted holes on the roof, big enough for Whitmer to stick all of his fingers in at once. He found out he needs a new roof which will cost upwards of $15,000. That’s when the original inspector, John Brooks of Lee County Inspection Services and Home Inspections took another look.

“As the owner of the company I did return after the customers original phone call to do a re-inspection in the attic and also the roof and found that nothing was missed on our end as per our standards of practice,” said Brooks. “Notable physical damage could not be viewed as it was on the second story metal roof covering, which could not been seen from the ground or ladder.”

He explained to Whitmer why he couldn’t see the damage.

“He told me at that point, that he doesn’t get on on the roof to look at roofs, which blew me away,” he said.

According to the Florida Administrative Code, roof inspectors are not required to go on top of a roof, if in their opinion, it’s unsafe.

Whitmer also says the previous owner, Joseph Walter of Gator Realty knew something was wrong with the roof.

“There was fresh paint all through this house. They repainted the whole thing. I believe that they knew there was a leak here,” he said. “If I were to sell this house, I wouldn’t sell it like that for fear of a lawsuit or something. The owner is responsible.”

But Walter says he’s not. He told Fox 4 on the phone the roof was in good standing when he sold it, based on Brook’s inspection.

Whitmer says he won’t make the same mistake twice.

“If I were to buy another house, I would never, ever hire a home inspector again. I would call a roofing company, and a plumber, and an electrician, and have them go through the house, and make sure everything is working right,” he said.

Whitmer says if he could turn back the hands of time, he would walk away from the house altogether. Brooks with Lee County Inspection Services and Home Inspections says Whitmer is welcome to file a complaint with his company’s insurance.

Here’s the full statement from Lee County Inspection Services and Home Inspections:

Hello my name is John Brooks and I am the owner and operator of Lee County Inspection Services home inspections based in Cape Coral Florida. although we do understand the customers plight and him being upset with damage to his roof after a home inspection, it must be understood the standards of practice that a home inspector takes when inspecting a home. According to Florida state standards of practice we are not required to physically get up on any roof during a home inspection. Many inspectors though, including our company will walk an asphalt shingle roof during the course of their inspection. This practice does go above and beyond what is required of us. Metal and tile roofs though are another story, generally they are not walked on by a home inspector to avoid damaging roof covering and for proper safety practices. This particular customers house was a two-story building, the notable physical damage could not be viewed as it was on the second story metal roof which could not be seen from the ground or a ladder. On every home inspection we also do a thorough attic crawl to look at the underside of the roof and make sure that there is no water intrusion or leakage. We did make note in this customer’s original home inspection report that he had some water intrusion around a vent stack, it is always recommended to follow up with a licensed contractor if active damage is viewed. As the owner of the company I did return after the customers original phone call to do a reinspection in the attic and also the roof and found that nothing was missed on our end as per our standards of practice. On a last note a good home inspection company always carries errors and omissions insurance, our company has errors and omissions insurance up to $1 million. The client is always welcome to file a claim if they feel that a mistake was made by the inspection company. In this case there was no claim made and we were not informed. I am always available to follow up with an unhappy client which quite honestly does not happen that often. We have inspected over 4500 houses and have never had a claim approved based on a mistake that we made as a company. We do work very hard on every job site as an inspection team to do the most thorough job possible when it comes to a comprehensive home inspection.