Working as a municipal building inspector and having a passion for construction can often be a tease. Every day I see a variety of construction projects built by a wide assortment of tradesmen—both professional and amateur—and even by homeowners. I'll admit that I get satisfaction from the feeling that I'm part of the team, but building inspectors don't typically get thanked for their contribution—quite the opposite, in fact. So while "call backs" are not generally viewed as positive experiences, one in particular was quite memorable and educational both for the contractor and for me.

Let me provide some background, as a confession and as an inadequate excuse for my missing the problem during the initial inspection. In 2008 when the call came in, my jurisdiction had just suffered through a major Colorado Front Range windstorm, followed by a severe hailstorm, which precipitated an uptick in roof repairs and permits for new...

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