It is my goal, at a home inspection, to try to look at all components and systems. That not only earns me repeat business from clients and agents, but it provides some insulation against potential client complaints. Logic prevails: The more you see the less important stuff you miss.
It is not possible to find everything that might be wrong at a house. Finding 100% of the problems is not achievable within the confines of a home inspection. Sometimes mother nature herself interferes. This time of year, it is not unusual for the home inspector in this region to have restricted roof access due to ice.
The state law, standards of practice, wants the inspector to go on the roof. It says: When it is possible to do so, safely and without damage to roofing materials or components, a home inspector will traverse the roof. Problem is, sometimes you cannot safely traverse the roof. Case in point below:
That roof is a sheet of ice. All you can do, as an inspector, is put a ladder up to the eaves at some locations, view it with binoculars or a telescope and take zoom photos with a camera. Trying to go on that roof would be treacherous. I have gone on iced roofs, in the past, because I thought the ice had melted sufficiently. I hit slick spots, not a comfortable feeling!
Sometimes, the inspector can see obvious problems, enough so to comfortably state that the roof requires repairs and further review by a roofing contractor. Other times, the surface looks okay, but an inspector does not know for sure due to the limited access. In those cases, the inspector should explain to the client exactly what he or she could, and could not, see. Let the client weigh in on that information. It might be a less than perfect inspection scenario, but sometimes that is the best you can do -- You can't always do what you want! I wanted to get up on the roof but mother nature said "no."