What to look for in a roof when buying a home
Of all the elements that go into constructing a home, none are more important than the roof. It has multiple roles in keeping a house comfortable, livable, and safe.
A quality roof provides insulation and protection from the elements and supports the home structure and foundation. Many interior issues a home might have, from moisture damage to air conditioning problems, often stem from problems with the roof.
The condition of a roof reveals a great deal about the shape of a house. When you're in the market for a new home and are actively looking at houses, the roof’s condition is the first factor you should consider. Here are some of the details to look for and discuss with the current homeowner or realtor.
Items to look for in roof inspection for a new home
Composition. The most basic criteria to look for in a roof is what it's made of: asphalt or wood shingles, slate, metal, rubber, concrete, or other, less common materials. Knowing the composition of the roof is key to determining how much maintenance it will require and how long it's likely to last. Which brings us to…
Age. An old roof isn't necessarily a deal-breaker when buying a new home. Some construction materials used on roofs — slate and metal especially — were built to last for entire lifetimes. Others, like wood or asphalt shingles, usually need replacement after 20 to 30 years. Make it a priority to find out how long the current roof has been in place.
Drainage system. Most homes use a simple network of external gutters, drains, and downspouts to redirect rainwater off the roof. Although there are some exceptions. Flat roofs don't have slopes that gravitate water toward the ground; therefore, many use "scupper" drains, which are openings around the edge of the roof that lead to downspouts. Other homes use inner drainage systems, which direct water to "hidden" underground drains, much like showers or tubs do. Roofs with traditional rain gutters are generally easier to maintain, but scupper and inner drainage systems may be more attractive and less susceptible to freezing.
Damage. Check for damage in the roof that may indicate the presence of leaks or breaks. Missing or buckled shingles, wear and tear, moisture around flashing of vents or chimneys, peeled paint, damp spots, or sagging roof portions may require maintenance. Also, check the uppermost regions inside the house — usually the attic — to find visible beams of light or the presence of water damage on the ceiling.
Fungal growth. Algae, mold, moss, mildew, and other fungal growth can slowly eat away at the materials on a roof and even lead to interior damage. Look for detectable signs of fungal growth. Other indicators of mold growth aren't always obvious to the naked eye, so check the ceilings and highest reaches of the house for signs of advanced mold growth.
Ventilation. Look for the presence and condition of outside vents. These include air intake and exhaust vents on the roof and attic or gable vents on the sides of the house. Whatever system is used should support optimal airflow throughout all seasons.