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Essential Roofing Checks: What to Inspect Before Buying a Home

February 23, 2024 | 4 min. read

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When buying a home, it’s easy to skip over the roof and focus on the more exciting elements of your potential space. However, the roof is one of the most critical components to inspect thoroughly. 

A well-maintained roof not only protects your investment but also ensures your family’s safety and comfort. If you buy a home with a damaged roof, it can lead to costly repairs and potentially a total roof replacement you may not have budgeted for.

Rescue My Roof has been working with homeowners for over a decade, helping them achieve high-quality and budget-friendly roofing solutions. Today, we’ll walk you through what to look for in a roof when purchasing a home.

This article will explore the key factors to consider when evaluating the roof of a potential new home. Ultimately, you’ll understand what to look for in a roof and make an informed decision to avoid costly surprises down the road. 

Top 5 Roofing Components to Watch For

When you’re touring a potential home, of course you’re not going to climb on the roof to investigate its condition. However, there are simple things homeowners can spot from the ground or in an attic that will indicate the roof’s shape. 

Here are common things to look for or to ask the current homeowner’s about when it comes to the roof.

1. Age and Condition

An old gray asphalt roof with black algae streaks.
An older roof with black algae streaks.

Knowing the age of the roof is going to help you determine if it’s going to need a replacement or repairs right away. If the roof was just replaced, there should be no problems and there may be a transferable warranty. If it was replaced 20 years ago, it may be time to consider a replacement (and you could negotiate a lower home price).

Start by asking the seller or real estate agent about the age of the roof and any recent repairs or replacements. Typically, asphalt shingle roofs last about 20-30 years, while metal, tile, and slate roofs can have longer lifespans. 

Additionally, inspect the roof for signs of wear and tear, such as missing, curling, or damaged shingles, as well as sagging or uneven areas. These could indicate underlying issues that may require immediate attention or replacement.

Black streaks caused by mold growth in an attic.
Black streaks caused by mold growth in an attic.

Furthermore, when you look in the attic, look for signs of moisture damage (black streaks or mold) and broken rafters. They could be signs that the roof or the ventilation is compromised, and needs to be replaced.

2. Roofing Material

Different roofing materials offer varying levels of durability, aesthetics, and maintenance requirements. Asphalt shingles are the most common and cost-effective option, but they may require more frequent repairs and replacements compared to metal, tile, or slate roofs. 

Consider your climate, architectural style, and personal preferences when evaluating the roofing material of the home. Additionally, check for proper installation and adherence to local building codes and regulations.

3. Gutters and Drainage

Clogged aluminum gutters that are beginning to pull away from the home.
Clogged gutters that are beginning to pull away from the home.

Inspect the gutters, downspouts, and drainage system to ensure they are clear of debris and properly functioning. Clogged gutters can lead to water backup, which can damage the roof, siding, and foundation of the home. 

Additionally, look for signs of water stains, mold, or mildew on the exterior walls or ceilings, as these could indicate water intrusion due to poor drainage. Ensure that the gutters are securely attached and slope away from the house to direct water away from the foundation.

4. Flashing and Ventilation

Flashing and ventilation play key roles in keeping your home safe and dry. When flashing is rusted or ventilation can’t keep up, you will face interior moisture damage, mold, and costly repairs.

Roof flashing around a joining wall on an asphalt roof.

Flashing is the metal water-proofing used around penetrations in the roof (like chimneys or pipe boots). Pay attention to the flashing, seals, and vents around chimneys, skylights, and other roof penetrations. These areas are prone to leaks if not properly sealed or maintained. 

When inspecting the flashings, look for signs of rust, corrosion, or deterioration on the flashing and ensure that it is intact and properly installed. If there are any issues, it’s best to call a professional to see if further repairs are needed.

Adequate ventilation is also essential to prevent moisture buildup in the attic, which can lead to mold, mildew, and premature roof failure. Check for vents and ventilation systems that allow for proper airflow and temperature regulation. Again, if there are issues, it’s best to call a contractor. The issue could be as simple as cleaning the ventilation, or you may need more vents installed to match the size of the home. 

5. Signs of Previous Damage or Repairs

Ask the seller or realtor about any previous roof repairs or damage and request documentation or receipts if available. Look for patched areas, mismatched shingles, or uneven surfaces that could indicate past repairs or storm damage. 

While minor repairs are common, extensive or recurring issues may signal underlying problems that need further investigation by a professional inspector or roofing contractor.

Additionally, any DIY repairs should be reported. If there are future issues in those areas, DIY repairs may have voided the warranty, meaning you’ll have to pay for those repairs out-of-pocket.

Avoiding Roofing Headaches While Buying A Home

A thorough inspection of the roof is essential when buying a home to ensure its structural integrity and longevity. By considering factors such as age, condition, material, drainage, flashing, and previous damage or repairs, you can make an informed decision and negotiate any necessary repairs or replacements before closing the deal. 

Investing time and effort in evaluating the roof of a potential new home will ultimately save you money and headaches in the long run. And knowing the roof’s condition may help you negotiate a lower asking price, giving you the space in your budget to get a roof that will stand the test of time.

Learn more about roof replacements and home ownership with “Do You Have Rotten Roof Decking?” and “Top 5 Signs Your Gutters Are Leaking.”

Additionally, you can download our Buyer’s Guide to learn everything you need to know prior to purchasing a roof. 
Are you searching for a reputable roofing company in southeastern Wisconsin? Rescue My Roof is ready to help. You can contact us today to get a free estimate.