What to Look for in the Roof When Buying a Home: 6 Elements to Inspect

Residential | April 16, 2021

Congratulations! You’re looking at buying a home. Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or you’ve done this a few times, it’s important to ensure the house is in excellent and safe condition. If it’s not, the areas that need attention should be addressed with the current homeowner before making your purchase.

Replacing your roof or repairing your roof can be a substantial financial investment! Looking for certain elements and warning signs can effectively position you to make an educated decision.

Interior Areas to Observe

  • Water stains or mold: Especially on the uppermost floors, look around the ceiling paying attention for signs of water damage. These could be present anywhere, but most likely to be around bathroom vent fans, skylights, and around the edges of the ceiling.
  • Sagging: Any drooping ceilings, especially on the uppermost floor, are typically signs of previous water damage. The roof should be inspected by a professional to determine if there is or was a roof leak.
  • Attic space: You can look at the insulation, but more importantly, get a look at the roof decking. If you see areas that are discolored or any holes, some plywood may need to be replaced. This could be a warning sign that you need to replace the roof because the lowest layer of protection is compromised.
    • Depending on the time of year, it’ll be important to realize the temperature of the attic or crawl space. If it’s way too hot in summer, it’s likely not ventilated properly.
    • It is also good to look for signs of mold which is another indication of poor ventilation. Look for any bathroom vents or pipes which are exhausting into the attic space — these should always be lengthened and put through the roof with proper flashing.

Exterior Roofing Elements to Review

  • Missing shingles: The shingles are your outermost and first layer of protection from the elements. Missing shingles compromise the entire roof system and can lead to external elements entering the home and causing damage.
  • Granule loss & surface cracking: Granule loss happens over time as the shingles face different weather patterns and the bond between the granules and asphalt lessens. This often causes discoloration. Some discoloration of shingles is normal with age due to sun exposure and granular loss. However, major discoloration could be concerning. This means the shingles may be reaching the end of their life and may start to cause problems.
    Surface cracking happens when shingles face extreme heat, they expand and crack. This happens over time and could cause issues to reach the interior of your home.
  • Gutters: Make sure they are securely attached to the home. You can look to see if there is standing water and if so, the gutters aren’t draining properly. This could be due to a clog or a sagging gutter slope. If it’s a clog, it’s important to clean the gutters (or have the homeowners clean them prior to purchase) so the debris doesn’t continue to build up and permanently damage the gutters.

What you should ask the current homeowner about the roof:

  • How old is the current roof system?
  • What company installed the roof?
  • Is there any paperwork that contains warranty information?
  • Has there been any work done to the roof since it was installed?
  • Do you have any leftover matching roofing materials?
  • Is there a transferable warranty on the roof system?

If you don’t see any concerning areas as mentioned above, it’s likely that the roof is in good or great condition! This can be one thing to check off your house buying list!

However, if you have to put “Yes” by any of the elements to check, it’s time to start discussing your options. You may want to have the current homeowner fix the issues, depending on what the issues are and what their roofing warranty is. You may also want to decrease your offer to give yourself additional cash to fix the issues yourself.

Whatever you choose, it’s important to promptly address these areas! Ignoring roof deterioration can lead to much larger problems.

If you’re questioning the roof’s integrity, speak to a local roofing professional! Joyland Roofing is located in Lancaster County, PA, and we serve many towns in the surrounding area. We would love to have a conversation with you!

Let us know about the property you’re looking at purchasing and we can schedule a time for our inspector to visit!

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