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We had an inspector look at our attic because there was a cat up there one night. (He works for a company separate from the roofers but his company did our siding.) He found a truss that was rotted and completely detached so it wasn’t supporting that section of roof (he gave me pics and video). We contacted the roofers and they sent someone out who told us the damage was there before we had the roof replaced.

Would they have seen the damage when they took the roof off? Were they obliged to tell us? I don’t understand full implications. It’s one truss but the siding guy said it wasn’t great - it’s not in danger of imminent collapse. The roof was replaced three years ago and is well covered by warranty but I don’t think that helps here.

I should also mention that I don’t trust our roofer. This is my first house and that was the first repair (storm chasers - I’m smarter now). I should have had it independently inspected.

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    Would they have seen the damage when they took the roof off? ... how can that possibly be answered by people on the internet? ... you provided zero information about the truss
    – jsotola
    Apr 17 at 19:08
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    A roof truss/rafter rotted and detached usually needs years of long term water leak. It should also have rotted the roof deck. If the roof deck was repaired years ago when they stopped the leak, then the new roofers might not have noticed a rotten rafter/truss, if the roof deck was in good condition. They would only notice the rotted rafter if they also replaced the roof deck, or you asked them to check under the deck.
    – crip659
    Apr 17 at 21:03

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You don't provide much info, and your profile is mostly empty. I'm going to assume you're located in the continental USA.

Roofs of most houses in the USA are built using a wooden framework (rafters, or trusses) which is covered by tongue-and-groove wooden boards (houses built in the 60's or before), or by plywood (houses built in the 70's - 90's) or OSB sheathing. The sheathing is then covered by a water resistive barrier, like tar paper or a rubbery membrane. The roof is finally covered with asphalt shingles. Other roofing surfaces, like clay and stone tiles, formed metal sheets, etc. are available, but the vast majority of roofs are shingles on plywood.

To get a "new roof" put on, you typically either (1) add a new layer of shingles over the old shingles, without removing them; or (2) remove the old shingles and replace them with a new layer; or (3) do something much, much more involved and expensive.

It is only in the case of option (3) that you might expect the roofers to be able to see anything other than the surface of the sheathing beneath your roof. In the case of (1), they woudn't even see the sheathing or the WRB, since they would just be slathering more shingles atop the existing ones.

Option (1) is the cheapest. There would be no fee for removal of the old shingles, no need for trash hauling or stripping the shingles off the house. This saves time, and gas, and hauling capacity - usually a truck bed or small dumpster full of waste, plus whatever fees are applied to "construction waste" in your landfill. So if you were really price sensitive, you would have likely chosen this option, and you cannot expect your roofer to know anything except maybe "there was a soft spot over there." If they became aware of that, they would probably have told you, since it wouldn't impinge on the job they were doing, you would likely appreciate being told, and it might even yield more work for them (probably not -- roofing is a specialized trade -- but it could happen).

With option (2), a full removal and replacement, there is the possibility that you would ask them to repair the roof. That might encourage or discourage them from reporting the find to you, depending on local circumstances (was it a Friday? were they hung over? did the foreman have a brother in the construction business?). But again, they likely would not have really seen anything, except that "soft spot" unless they went hunting for it.

It's okay to distrust your roofer. Roofing is an easy trade to get started in, and so a lot of people who can't find work for other people get started in it. If your roofing crew was just a couple of guys, they might have been a shady group. But if it was 6 or more people who had obviously all worked together before, that was probably a solid group, FWIW. As long as you don't have water coming in when it rains, and the shingles all line up and march parallel, you probably got a decent job done. I don't think your roofer is legally liable for anything by not telling you about something under the roof, if you asked them for options (1) or (2) that would have all their time spend over the roof.

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  • FYI, it's increasingly common that overlaying asphalt shingles is not allowed. Great advice in general, though.
    – isherwood
    Apr 17 at 20:27

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