When house hunting, it’s easy to get caught up in granite countertops, hardwood floors, and other interior finishes. But one of the most important parts of any home is right above your head – the roof. As a critical structural and protective element, the roof deserves careful inspection before buying a house. Here’s what potential home buyers should look for in a roof:
Roof Age and Remaining Life
The age of the roof should be one of the first things you investigate. Request documentation from the seller showing when the roof was last replaced. Asphalt shingle roofs typically last 15-25 years, while metal roofs can last 50 years or longer. If the roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, you’ll want to factor in replacement costs.
Examine the roof carefully from the ground with binoculars. Look for aging signs like curled, cracked or missing shingles. Also check the attic inside for water stains or leaks around penetrations. If the roof is older but still in good shape, inquire about any repairs or maintenance completed over the years.
Roof Style and Materials
There are many types of roofing materials and styles to consider:
Asphalt Shingles: Most common residential roofing material; available in various grades and colors. Lower-cost but shorter-lived.
Wood Shakes/Shingles: Natural rustic aesthetic but high maintenance and not fire-resistant.
Metal: Long-lasting; can be expensive upfront but very durable. Prone to dents from hail. Various material types like steel or aluminum.
Tile: Classy look but heavy and expensive. Different options like clay, concrete or slate.
Flat Roof: Used on low-pitched roofs. Various waterproof membranes to choose from.
Green Roof: Topped with vegetation; environmentally-friendly but higher upfront cost.
The roof style impacts aesthetics but also function – hip and gable roofs shed water well, while flat roofs require careful drainage and maintenance.
Signs of Damage
Carefully inspect the roof and attic for signs of leaks, damage or needed repairs:
Discolored or missing shingles
Curled or cracked shingles
Exposed nail heads
Sagging or uneven areas
Leaks around penetrations like skylights or vents
Water stains on interior ceilings or attic framing
Also check that flashing around chimneys, vents and valleys is intact. Damaged or worn roofs will require repairs or full replacement sooner.
Proper attic ventilation improves roof performance and extends lifespan. Ensure the roof has sufficient vents, intake ventilation and exhaust ventilation. Signs of poor ventilation include excessive heat in the attic or moisture condensation on rafters or sheathing.
Roof Load Capacity
The roof framing and sheathing must be strong enough to handle expected snow and wind loads. Building codes require roofs to support certain minimum pound per square foot loads. If you plan to use the attic for storage or convert it to living space, inquire about load capacity for potential upgrades.
Check that any additions or sections of the roof match the original materials and color. Mismatched roof sections can detract from home value and curb appeal. If additions will be needed, understand how new sections can blend with the existing roof.
Contractor Quality and Warranties
Ask the seller who did the roof installation and if they provided any contractor warranty. Quality roofers will guarantee their workmanship for 5-10 years. Extended manufacturer warranties may also be available on the roofing products, which can be transferred to the new home buyer.
Future Plans for Solar Panels
If you’re interested in adding solar panels down the road, some roof types and orientations are better suited than others. South-facing roofs with enough surface area to hold an array are ideal. If solar power is in your plans, inspect the roof condition, orientation and pitch with that future addition in mind.
Trust Bittner Roofs for Your Roof Inspection and Repairs
Getting on the roof yourself as a buyer is not recommended and may violate your home inspector’s insurance. But be present during the home inspection to view the roof, ask about any concerns, and learn maintenance needs going forward. With proper inspection and care, your roof will provide lasting protection and beauty for your home.
If you have any concerns about the roof during the home buying process, a roofing specialist like Bittner Roofs can provide an inspection and assessment. Our team of experienced roofers can detect issues not visible from the ground and recommend any repairs or replacements needed. We offer comprehensive roof evaluations as well as installation and repair services using top-quality materials. For expert roof inspections and workmanship you can rely on, consider contacting Bittner Roofs. Our personalized approach helps home buyers make informed decisions about the roof before purchasing.