Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

Dear Barry: I am presently buying my first home and am bothered by a difference of opinion between my home inspector and the seller’s roofing contractor. My home inspector has 20 years of experience. He found the shingles to be worn and brittle, with two years of remaining life. But the seller’s roofing contractor says the roof has five years of life. My agent says we should get a third opinion, but I’m thinking of canceling the deal. Why can’t the experts agree on the condition of the roof?  Mikel

Dear Mikel: No one can assign an exact amount of remaining life for roof shingles. It is a subjective assessment, not an exact, scientific prediction. Whether two years or five years, the point is the same: The shingles show significant signs of aging and wear and have limited remaining life. They will soon need replacement.

If you really want the house, try to negotiate a cash credit for roof replacement as part of the deal. That would be reasonable for a roof with 2 to 5 years of remaining life. The amount of the credit should be based on a labor and material estimate from a licensed roofing contractor. For that purpose, it would be wise to take your agent’s advice regarding a third opinion from another contractor.