Roof structure, Buenos Aires (C) Daniel Friedman Roof Structure Defects List & Home Inspection Education

  • DEFECTS LIST - STRUCTURE, ROOF - Recommendations for inspecting the roof structure
    • List of typical roof structure defects
    • Lists of important defects for residential buildings
    • What does a home inspector need to know? Home inspection training and education curriculum recommendations
  • BUILDING DEFECTS LISTS - separate article
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about home & building inspection courses, standards, & defect checklists for building roofs & roof coverings

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This article lists significant roof structure defects, definitions, and home inspection education topics. This article series, beginning at BUILDING DEFECTS LISTS, provides lists of common building defects and basic defect knowledge that also outline recommended curriculum content for home inspector education. The building defects and inspection points listed in these articles also guide homeowners and home buyers to building areas that merit careful attention and often point areas of safety concern or important maintenance and repair tasks.

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Home Inspection Education Curriculum - Structure, Roof

Photograph of  severe roof structure damage from an unattended roof valley leak in a historic home.2.4   Roof Framing Inspection Recommendations & Defects List

2.4.1 Knowledge Base for Roof Structure Inspections

1.    Describe the function of roof framing systems.

2.    Describe these common roof framing configurations: rafters, roof joists and ceiling joists; trusses.

3.    List the materials and components of each roof type (rafter, roof joist, ceiling joist, collar tie, knee wall, purlin, web, chord, wood I TJI?,Wood I-joist. or engineered truss joists  JDG sheathing, struts).

4.    Describe the features of  adequate installation and repair technique for each system.

5.    Define the following terms:

      roof rafter spreading, dishing, sagging, end bearing, heel, toe, hip rafter, valley rafter, jack rafter, horizontal projection, ridge board, ridge beam, gable wall, gable overhang, cathedral roof, compression web in truss, span, truss uplift, FRT plywood.

6.    Identify the codes or standards which apply to roof framing systems in your area.

2.4.2 Inspection Skills for Roof Structure Inspections

1.    Describe the inspection procedure for roof framing systems.

2.    Identify the common defects listed on the next page.

3.    Describe the implication of each defect.

4.    Identify safety issues for the inspector and occupant of the home (falling through ceiling, electric shock, attack by pests, skin, lung or nasal irritation from insulation).

5.    Communicate findings to client verbally and in writing, recommending corrective action where needed.



Collapsing barn (C) Daniel FriedmanRAFTERS, Typical Defects List                  


• Bearing on ridge board                       

• Concentrated loads                           

 • Endbearing not adequate                       

• Mechanical damage                            

• Rafter spread                                

• Ridge sag                                    

• Rot, insect or fire damage                   

• Sagging                                      

• Spliced                                      

• Split                                         

• Too small or overspanned

• Warped      

• Weak framing at openings

• Weak connections  

• Birdmouth cuts improper at top plate

 ROOF TRUSSESS, Typical Defects List   

• Buckled webs

• Endbearing

• Mechanical damage

• Missing webs

• Modified (improperly)

• Notches, holes

• Rot, insect or fire damage

• Sag

• Truss uplift

• Weak connections

ROOF SHEATHINGS, Typical Defects List

• Buckled

• Delaminated

• FRT deterioration

• Mold (or mis-labeled as "mldew")

• Rot, insect or fire damage

• Sag

• Too thin (3/8" or 1/4")

Roof COLLAR TIES, Typical Defects List                                                                          

      • Buckling                                            

      • Loose or poor connections                           

      • Mechanical damage                                  

      • Missing

      • Need lateral bracing                         

      • Rot, insect or fire damage                                               

 ROOF I JOISTS, Typical Defects List   

• Birds’ mouths ?

 • No ridge beams

• Notched

• Rot, insect or fire damage

• Toe bearing or endbearing inadequate

• Weak connections

KNEE WALLS/PURLINS, Typical Defects List                                                       

      • Buckling                                     

      • Mechanical damage                            

      • Poor connections                              

      • Purlins installed on side

      • Purlins sagging

      • Removed, needed

      • Rot, insect or fire damage

      • Single top plate, sag

      • Purlin struts too small

Readers should see STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS for our complete list of articles on this topic. Also see HOME & BUILDING INSPECTORS & INSPECTION METHODS. Use the Search Box at the top or bottom of these pages to find in-depth information about building, energy savings, and indoor environment inspection, diagnosis and repair at this website. Watch out: these inspection lists do not list all possible defects for the systems discussed, and not all home or building inspectors will examine all of the items listed here. CONTACT us to suggest corrections or additions to articles at this website.


These curriculae and building defect lists are based on smilar curriculum documents first prepared by Joe Scaduto, an ASHI member who prepared course material for Northeastern University's Building Inspection Certificate program in 1988, subsequently by DF, InspectApedia's editor, for New York University ca 1988 and later, with others, recommended to ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. ASHI did not adopt this material though currently that association as well as others offer extensive HOME INSPECTOR EDUCATION material. The curriculum and lists of defects are informed by additional analysis of the process of home inspection that was developed beginning Calgary, AB for Canadian and U.S. home inspector education and certification examinations in 1997. Other early contributors to home inspection education in the U.S. and Canada include Dr. Jess Aronstein, Alan Carson, Mike Casey, Mark Cramer, John Cox, Dwight Barnett, Douglas Hansen, Rick Heyl, Larry Hoytt, Bill Merrill, Kevin O'Malley, Dennis Robitalille, Keith Peddie, Pat Porzio, Roger Robinson.

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