Hurricane Season is Coming. Is Your Roof Safe?

Vero Beach, FL.

Imagine, if you will, moving into a new home with your spouse and two young children only to later experience a leaky roof that caused structural damage and mold in your walls. Your new home is rendered un-livable and your family must move out until your home is safe to occupy again. You are responsible for paying tens of thousands of dollars for a new roof repairs, hotel bills, and other costs associated with being displaced from your home. 

The first “what if” scenario actually happened to couple in Orchid Island, Vero Beach. Not only did the couple have to pay for a roof to be replaced (approximately $ 60,000), the house developed extensive structural damage from the leaks, which in turn caused a build-up of mold on the walls.  The couple have two young children and were living in an atmosphere of tarpaulins placed strategically to catch rain seeping in from the roof.

Additionally, what if your young child develops breathing issues or other health problems from the mold that require multiple doctor visits, procedures, and hospital stays? Only to find out your new home is the culprit. Mold in the walls caused by a leaky roof. According to floridahealth.gov, “there are four kinds of health problems that come from exposure to mold: allergic illness, irritant effects, infection, and toxic effects.”

Or, what about a 12-pound concrete tile/tiles blowing off your roof; hitting your car, shattering the windshield, or worse, hitting a person? Or, tiles being blown off and damaging other homes. Your home is where you are supposed to feel safest. It’s supposed to be a sanctuary. 

Unfortunately, for the couple referenced above, in Orchid, the Florida statute of repose (sometimes called a non-claim statute), like a statute of limitation, prevented them from seeking damages from the general contractor who hired the roofing contractor, since their claim was not within ten years after the house was built, even though the inspector wrote that the roof was probably leaking all the time.

See related article.

It almost happened again.

Vero Beach residents in Seagrove on the beach were able to avoid a similar experience while building a new home, because the owners raised concerns as the roof was being installed.  The couple hired both an engineer and Knopf & Associates to inspect the roof and each one found so many issues a decision was finally made to remove the entire roof and replace it at the homeowner’s expense.

Knopf & Associates, Inc. is a consulting organization focused solely on the roofing industry.  The objective of the firm is to assist property Owners/Managers, Architects, Engineers, Roofing Contractors and Legal Counsel with inspection, design, and quality control issues.  It is Palm Beach County’s oldest established full-time roofing consulting firm with clients throughout the southeastern United States. Knopf & Associates, Inc. is used as an expert witness by the State of Florida, as well as other states in the southeastern United States.

There are building requirements for every structure to follow in the state of Florida. This is called the Florida Building Code. There are different standards and requirements based on the different types of buildings (residential vs commercial) and the area the building is located in. 

This code establishes minimum requirements for roof construction. But do roofing contractors follow the same requirements for roofing for Ocala when installing a roof in Vero Beach (on the beach) where wind speeds are much greater?

The forces a roof must be able to withstand will differ based on wind speeds, exposure category and height.  A one-story house in central Florida will be quite different from a two-story house on by the ocean. 

Here are findings from Knopf & Associates first inspection report.

  1. Failure to adhere to contract terms.
  2. Failure to meet uplift.
  3. Current underlayment assembly has (had) no Florida approved product testing as installed.
  4. Distinct possibility that the underlayment was not back nailed resulting in code failure.
  5. Quality of workmanship especially for a home of this caliber.
  6. Use of non-specified materials.
  7. Use of non-approved materials.
  8. Failure to pull permits as required for attempted repairs.
  9. Failure to comply with building code in conducting repairs.
  10. Consequential damage to tile from repair activity and/or foot traffic.

After conducting a second inspection, Kyle G. Knopf, president, wrote “After conducting inspections through the complete tear off process along with a review of photos taken and physical evidence collected at the site, my original conclusions were validated.” 

Knopf & Associates determined the roofing company under the oversight of the general contractor “failed to meet Florida Residential Code requirements in attachment, installation methods and materials used.” 

Not only was the roof not installed correctly, but the contract was not adhered to. Per the report, “the original design intent was not met nor were terms of the contract.” They determined the tear off process “re-affirmed the significant risk” during a wind event and the “only viable option to correct all the defective conditions was a complete replacement.” 

We put a lot of trust into the professionals that build our homes. We expect them to make the best plan for our homes, so that our families are safe. 

The couple in Seagrove are suing Jones & Jones Construction, the general contractor, who in turn is suing Orchid Island Roofing.  To date the couple have spent over $ 200,000 for their new roof, consulting and legal fees.  Should the suit go to trial, their expenses will increase considerably.

If roofs are not installed with attention to detail and requirements, a number of homes could potentially be devastated in the event of a major storm.

People will not know until the damage is done.

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