"So hows the roof?" Home Inspector Field Notes
Updated: Oct 31, 2018
When it comes to a home purchase, roof condition is extremely important. The roof is the home's first line of defense against moisture intrusion. A failure in the roof covering materials can have negative effects on just about every major system in the home below. Buyers often ask, "So how is the roof?" Just like my clients and the homes they have shopped the answer is commonly different.
Roofs are expensive to replace, generally outside of sellers' ability to repair themselves, and can actually effect home owner's insurance rates depending on the condition and age when the home was purchased.
Is the roof on your potential purchase ready to take a bullet for them? Hopefully you will never have to find out, but many issues can damage the roof's integrity and cause expensive repairs for your buyers if missed during an inspection. Below are some common issues found during inspections.
Damaged plumbing vent flashings: Mature neighborhoods with large trees generally come with a healthy squirrel population. Squirrels are notorious for blunting their teeth on plumbing vent flashings, causing open penetrations in the roof coverings that can lead to unexpected leaks. The good news is that replacement of vent flashings is a very small cost compared to a full roof replacement.
Roof shingles that are beyond their usable life: Old and worn out shingles often have a higher occurrence of unexpected leaks that can cause expensive damage to major structural and mechanical systems. Beyond potential damage, worn out roof coverings may effect buyers structural insurance premiums, or the condition of the roof may prevent buyers from even getting structural insurance on a home.
Foot traffic damage during construction: All too often, on new construction homes foot traffic can scrape the granules from shingles exposing the fiberglass backing. Exposed fiberglass backing will deteriorate at a faster rate than the rest of the shingles creating a situation that will reduce the usable life span of the roof covering. The good news on new construction is when this is caught during an inspection it is generally on the builders dime to repair damaged areas.
Cedar shakes overlaid with asphalt shingles: While this is becoming very uncommon in the greater Houston area, and the roof covering may appear to be serviceable, it is almost guaranteed to cause an issue for buyers seeking structural insurance. More often than not, this will require a complete replacement of the roof decking and covering in order for a transaction to proceed.
Improper flashing details: While the shingles may be brand new, improper flashing details can cause costly leaks and damage. This is one of the main reasons that we always stress that home owners use reputable and qualified contractors when having any repairs done to their homes. Often times paying a little more upfront can save money in the long run.
Loose or unbonded shingles: Shingles that are loose or have lost their bond are susceptible to moisture intrusion from wind driven rains, or can actually be torn from the roof completely in a wind storm. Shingles are generally rated to resist winds between 110-130 mph depending on installation. The shingles pictured most likely fail in winds far below their wind rating without proper repair.
Improper underlayment installation: Roofing underlayment should be installed below drip edge flashings at the rakes (vertical sections running towards the ridge of the roof), and above drip edge flashing at the eaves (lower edges of the roof). This is an issue that is found on probably 90% of homes inspected. Improper roofing underlayment can cause premature deterioration of fascia and soffit materials.
The pictures and inforamtion above are just a small sampling of the issues that are found while on the roof during a home inspection.
Thank you for reading!
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