A Home Buyers Guide to Assessing a Roof

There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a home, including the neighborhood, layout, style, and size of a house. While most prospective buyers spend a lot of time studying the interior of a house, they sometimes forget to spend much time assessing the roof’s condition. This is surprising, given that roofs are integral to protecting a home and expensive to replace. 

A well-maintained roof can last 20 years or longer, but shoddy installation or low-quality shingles and tiles can shorten their lifespans. With the average cost to replace an asphalt roof around $7,000 for a typical 2,000 square foot home, it’s important to understand a roof’s condition before you make an offer. Luckily, there are several things home buyers can do to assess the condition of a roof as they view a property.

7 Ways Homebuyers Can Assess the Condition of a Roof

1. Do a Visual Inspection

Some roof damage is easily visible from the ground. Stand back and inspect the roof from the driveway and yard. Use a pair of binoculars, walk around the house, and look for the following: worn or missing shingles, mold or algae buildup, or a sagging roofline. Any of these problems indicate an older roof that may need repair or a complete replacement. 

2. Check the Gutters and Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts work with the roof to protect a home from water damage. Gutters must be regularly cleaned so that rain and snowmelt move freely off of the roof. Downspouts are designed to drain water from the gutters and should be placed at a steep angle so that water is directed away from the home’s foundation. Ensure the downspouts are secure and free of debris. 

3. Look for Signs of Water Damage

heck for water damage inside the home, especially on the top floor. Even a small leak can damage ceilings, walls, floors, and eventually a home’s structural integrity. Homeowners often paint over water stains, but if a leak has not been properly repaired, you may see stains bleeding through a fresh coat of paint. Peeling or bubbling paint, water stains, and sagging ceilings are signs of a leaking roof. Sagging or visibly damp ceilings are a serious problem that a trained professional should immediately evaluate and repair.

4. Check the Attic

If it’s safe to do so, take a look inside the attic. Use a flashlight to check for pests and signs of water damage, including condensation, mold, or mildew. It’s also important to ensure the attic has adequate ventilation and insulation. Even if the roof is relatively new, if the attic isn’t adequately insulated and ventilated, you could have serious issues down the road. Both are important for preventing ice dams and other winter weather roofing problems. Proper roof ventilation and insulation help protect against condensation, mold, mildew, and high energy bills.  

5. Find Out What Materials the Roof is Made From

The types of materials that a roof is made from directly impact its durability and lifespan. Asphalt shingles may only last for 20 years, but clay tiles can easily last for 50 years or longer. Along with longevity, different types of roofing materials can significantly impact repair costs. A missing asphalt shingle will likely not cost that much to replace, but a custom-designed concrete or clay tile can be expensive. If the roof is in the middle of its expected lifespan or has areas in need of repair, understanding the existing roofing materials is essential for calculating repair or replacement costs.

6. Ask About the Roof Age and Warranty

Find out when the roof was installed, by whom, and whether any warranty will transfer to the new homeowner. The average asphalt roof lasts about 20 years or so. The older a roof is, the sooner you’ll need to have it repaired or replaced. Sellers must disclose when the roof was replaced and any repairs and inspection reports. The age and condition of the roof should be reflected in the listing price of the home.

7. Get a Professional Inspection

With rising home prices, low inventory, and the rise of all-cash offers, many homebuyers are tempted to place an offer and waive home inspections to secure a home. But there are ways to purchase a home and protect yourself from expensive surprises. If you buy an older home, a roof inspection is often required by the insurance company before they will provide coverage. No matter what an inspection turns up, you’re better off knowing the condition of the roof before you commit.

Home inspectors will check the roof as part of their process, but they rarely do the type of comprehensive inspection that a qualified roofer performs. Home inspectors are not required to climb up on the roof during an inspection. Most will do a roof inspection from the ground with binoculars which offers a limited assessment. And a standard home inspection will not include a roof certification. On the other hand, a professional roofing contractor will walk on the roof for an in-person inspection and go into the attic to thoroughly examine the roof’s interior. They can provide homeowners with a roof certification as well.

During the roof certification process, a trained professional will check for:

  • Cracked, warped, loose, or missing shingles or tiles
  • Loose or damaged flashing
  • Gutter leaks
  • Mold, mildew, or pest infestation
  • Clogged vents or drains
  • Damage and leaks around chimneys, vents, and skylights
  • Inadequate insulation and ventilation inside the attic
  • Problems with the structural integrity of the roof

If minor problems are found, they can usually carry out repairs quickly. If no repairs are required, the roofer will estimate the roof’s remaining lifespan and present an official certification for the inspection. 

It pays to have a professional roof inspection, either before you make an offer or during the contract phase of negotiations. Hiring a roofing professional to carry out a roof inspection and provide roof certification will ensure that shingles, tiles, gutters, and the roof’s overall structural integrity is thoroughly assessed. Any necessary repairs can be made, giving you peace of mind that your roof will protect your home and family for years to come.

Work With a Trusted Local Roofing Company

If you’re interested in purchasing a home but aren’t sure about the roof’s condition, contact an expert. Since 1999, Brian Dawson Roofing & Construction has installed residential and commercial roofing systems throughout the greater St. Louis region. 

Contact us online or at (636) 733-6435 to schedule a free inspection and consultation. Our experienced professionals will arrive on time, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to detect leaks and other problems your roof may be facing. Our mission is to provide quality roofing services and top-notch customer service, all at a competitive price.