What’s Involved In Inspecting The Roof During a Home Inspection?

The foundation and the roof of a property are two of the most expensive components of a property to repair if something goes wrong. Before buying a new home, having a home inspector conduct a thorough evaluation of the property has saved clients thousands of dollars in future repairs that they can take off the asking price of a home. The results of home inspections have even deterred potential buyers from making an offer on a home. Just because a property is new doesn’t mean the roof is intact or free of leaks. New homes, poorly built, are just as likely to need repairs as older homes.

Each type of roofing comes with its own challenges. Roofs fall into one of two categories – low slope roofing and steep slope roofing.

Low slope roofing refers to slopes less than or equal to 14 degrees. This type of roof includes water impermeable types of roof membranes, such as metal panel roof systems, polymer-modified bitumen sheet membranes, single-ply membranes and spray polyurethane foam-based (SPF) roof systems, according to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). Within these types, there are three principles that need to be checked during a home inspection:

• Weatherproofing. If this element is compromised, expect leaks and water damage.

• Strength and stability through reinforcement. Making sure the roof is going to stay intact during storms and high winds is important.

• Surfacing helps protect against fire and hail and may help reflect the heat of the sun’s rays. Hail damage can run into the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars for repairs depending on the storm.

Steep slope roofing refers to shingles, clay and concrete tile, metal, slate, wood shakes and singles and synthetic materials (source NRCA). Clay and concrete tile can crack or come loose. Extensive cracking will be looked for as well as missing tiles. Weatherproofing comes in two forms, the covering and an underlayment that acts as a secondary layer of weatherproofing. Again, damage here can mean expensive water leaks. Thermal imaging systems can help identify leaks in this area. In climates that receive a lot of direct sun and high altitude climates, wood components can warp and weaken quickly. Wood also may need to be stained regularly, and should be factored in as a home maintenance cost.

Once weatherproofing and the condition of the covering have been inspected, an inspector can assess whether the roof will need repairs immediately or in the near future. Roofing jobs are not cheap, so be sure to protect your investment by having a trusted home inspector perform your home inspection.