Buying a New Home? A Roof Inspection Will Save You Money
Buying a new home is a huge life decision. Prospective buyers know they need to make sure their new dream home has a sound foundation and safe electrical wiring, but inspecting the roof is often overlooked. This is surprising, considering how integral roofs are to protecting a home, and how expensive a new roof can be.
According to the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association, roof deficiencies are the most common problem reported by home inspectors. But as we’ll explain, you won’t want to rely on just the home inspection. A certified Roof Inspector will be much more thorough and will be able to warn you about major upcoming expenses.
First Impressions: Inspecting the Roof Yourself
You can start to get an idea of the condition of a roof from the moment you go to view a potential home. Look for damaged or missing shingles on the roof, dry rot, and the condition of the gutters. Can you see moss growing on the roof? Is the roof sagging on one side?
When you can spot major problems from the ground, then you know there are likely to be costly repairs needed in the new future. If you know you won’t have the capital to buy the home and repair or even replace the roof, then you’ll know right off the bat that this home is not for you, before you spend money on a home inspection and roof certification.
How Much Will This Cost?
We know you’ll be wanting to save your pennies when you’re just about to shell out a lot of money on a new home, so you are probably wondering how much this will cost you. The average cost for a roof inspection is $650 and the average cost of a home inspection is between $500 to $700.
What to Expect During a Roof Inspection
The importance of your home’s roof really can’t be overstated. Without a solid, functioning roof, a house quickly turns into an uncomfortable place to live—not something any homeowner wants to endure. To protect your investment and your health, prioritize keeping your home’s roof in good shape.
How do you do that?
Well, as is the case with your home’s other systems, preventative maintenance is key. If they’re caught early, problems such as failed flashing, missing or torn shingles, and broken tiles are easier to fix and less likely to have already caused major problems to the structure or interior of the house.
Do I Need a Roof Inspection?
There are four main reasons you might need to have your roof looked at by a professional, says Louis. If your answer to any of the following questions is “yes,” a roof inspection needs to be in your future
Roof leaks and ceiling stains
In most homes, roof leaks aren’t quite as dramatic as they’re sometimes portrayed on television and in movies. Instead of racing around your house placing buckets and coffee cans under streams of water coming from the ceiling, it’s far more likely that you’ll begin to notice dark stains slowly spreading across the ceiling.
Purchasing a new home
If you’ve gone through the house-buying process before, you know how nerve-wracking the inspection and appraisal process can be. A home inspection is very important, but if there are major issues with one of the home’s systems—including the roof—consulting an expert is the smartest course of action
Buying a Home? Here’s Your Roof Inspection Guide
You’re investing hundreds of thousands into a pre-owned home and the last thing you want to find post purchase is a costly problem—especially in the roof.
Before the Offer: Look for Signs of Water Infiltration
To better shape your offer right out of the gate, look for potential roof problems the first time you see the house.
Whether it’s an open house or private showing, there are a number of things you can look for:
Water stains on ceiling — These are a dead giveaway of a leak in the roof.
Fresh ceiling paint — While not always a sign of a roof leak, it could be a sign that someone has tried to paint over water stains.
Curled shingles — If the home has asphalt shingles or cedar shakes, look for curling at the edges. This is a sign that the shingles are near the end of their usable life.
Missing shingles and tiles — Red alert: if shingles or tiles have been missing for a while, the roof may have water damage.
Water stains under the roof — Peak in the attic and look around for signs of water infiltration.
Water damaged fascia boards — Look for cracks and discoloration in the fascia boards around the roof. This can be a sign of an old roof.
With flat roofs or shingle roofs, it’s easy to spot potential problems since they’re more obvious. But tile roofs can look fine and dandy from the outside while hiding some serious problems—like a deteriorated felt underlayment. Protecting the roof from water, the underlayment deteriorates over time and needs replacing every 12-20 years. Ask the seller when’s the last time they had the underlayment replaced. If they start sweating profusely, you may need to reevaluate your offer
The answer: Yes, if the general inspector asks for it.
Home inspectors know enough to point out potential problems. But they’re not roofing experts. So when they see something that could be a sign of a bigger roof problem, they’ll usually recommend a separate roof inspection.
Roof Inspections – Are They Necessary?
In many states, especially those that see a higher amount of snow and hail, when buying a home it is usually requisite to have the roof certified from inspection. Matter of fact, many lenders required this to be done before they will cut a check. In most states, a properly ventilated roof can last 20 years or more. In states where the snow is heavy, they often have to be replaced every five years. While having a secure roof is one of the most important parts of a home, it can also be a very expensive investment, especially if you bought a home under the guise that everything was on the up and up.
Roof inspections are simply inspections that determine the integrity of a roof, how long it may last, and when it will need to be replaced. Roof inspectors are not going to climb up on your roof or the roof of a home you are thinking of buying and pull up shingles or tiles. Roof inspectors have special procedures wherein they can determine the lifespan of a given roof without tearing into it. At first glance it might seem that roofing inspectors would have to pull up part of the roof to do a thorough examination, but if you consider your own roof, you would not want anyone tearing holes in it just to see if it was in good shape.
Are Roof Inspectors Different From Home Inspectors?
Roof inspectors also have super-technical techniques like infrared roof inspections where they don’t even have to touch the surface of the roof itself to determine a roof’s integrity. This process uses infrared rays to locate parts of a roof that are at higher or lower temperatures than the rest of the roof. These “hot spots” can show a roof inspector just exactly where heat is escaping
Play it Safe
Because replacing a roof can be quite an investment, insurance companies and lenders require that this has been checked off. It makes sense for these companies to protect their investments, but you as the homeowner should want this to be secured as well. You don’t want to be stuck with a bill that you weren’t expecting, and you also don’t want to sell a home to a family and put them in the same spot.
Roof inspections are not all that expensive, and these roofing inspections can give you and your lenders and insurance carriers peace of mind. Because when the rain is coming down or there is a foot of snow weighing down your roof, you want to sleep comfortably knowing that you are secure from above.
HOW TO INSPECT YOUR ROOF
WHAT TO LOOK FOR AND WHEN TO CALL A PROFESSIONAL
Too many of us take our roofs for granted — it’s not something we think about unless there’s a problem. But as your home’s first line of defense against the elements, your roof goes through a lot of wear and tear, so it’s important to do a yearly visual inspection as part of your home maintenance routine. By giving your roof a brief inspection, small problems won’t lead to giant catastrophes.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Inspecting your roof does not mean walking on the roof. Roof walking is dangerous and best left to the professional. So first things first, stay off the roof!
From the safety of the ground or through a window, perform a visual inspection of the roof with binoculars. Remember: A roof is designed to age over time. Even a one-year-old roof will look different than a roof that was just installed. But by inspecting your roof regularly, you can spot changes and potential problems.
Look for shingles that are missing or loose, or show signs of heavy wear or degradation (bald spots, granule loss, or severe curling), as these are considered weak points where water can penetrate and cause leaks. While it is normal for asphalt shingles to experience some curling, significant or abnormal curling are indicators that your shingles are reaching the end of their useful life.
GETTING A CLOSER LOOK
After a preliminary inspection from the ground a closer look may be necessary. Safely climb a ladder to get a closer look at your roof. But stay off the roof itself — not only is it dangerous to walk on the roof, you can potentially do more damage to the shingles.