Whether you are looking for your first home or want to remain a responsible homeowner, it's essential to know about the condition of your home and its different systems. When looking at homes to buy or just continuing maintenance on your current home, one of the critical areas to keep an eye on is the roof.
Generally, the average lifespan of a roof is 20-30 years, depending on the materials and the quality of its installation. With that in mind, one frame of reference to consider is that if you are planning to stay in this home for 15 years or more, you should plan to replace your roof at some point during your homeownership. You will likely have minor repairs along the way, such as replacing some shingles here or there, to keep your roof in working order, and extending its lifespan to the fullest.
Once your roof has reached the end of its lifespan and requires replacement, keep in mind, this is one of the costliest expenses associated with homeownership. A roof replacement can range from $10,000 to $30,000, depending on your home and the area you live. If you are in the market to buy a home, understanding that a home with an old roof or one in poor condition will need to be covered in your budget sooner (during the buying process in order to get home insurance coverage) or later(when the roof begins to fail).
Protection from the Elements
Protection from the Elements
A roof's primary function is to keep water from getting into the home and effectively transport it to a safe distance away from the structure. As the water hits the roof from rain or melts from snowfall, the shingles guide the water down to the gutters system and direct it out through the downspouts away from the house. A roof in poor condition may allow water intrusion, and even small leaks into the interior can lead to the growth of mold, mildew, and other structural damage.
A sound roof can play a big part in cutting down on energy costs. When combined with proper ventilation and insulation in the attic, the roof can play a significant role in regulating your home's temperature by reducing the number of air leaks. This makes your home more energy efficient when it comes to heating or cooling the space.
The roof plays a prominent role in the home's curb appeal, and by extension, impacts the overall perceived value of the house. A roof with moss growing on it or significant sagging may scare away potential buyers. On the other hand, a clean roof in good condition can make a first strong impression when people first arrive at the house and pays attention to proper maintenance.
The best way to find out the condition of a roof is to get a home inspection. As part of most standard home inspections, the roof and exterior systems are among the many areas that the home inspector will cover. Having a trained professional assess the condition of your roof (or any component of your house, for that matter) is the best course of action to understanding the complete picture of its condition, equipping you with the information you need to make a sound decision. Learning the roof's condition is up to the inspector, and here is an overview of what you can expect from them during this portion of the inspection.
What the Roof Inspection covers:
- In most cases, the inspector will get on the roof to walk every inch of it, allowing them to see the overall condition and highlight any specific defects. It is important to note that in some cases, the grading of the roof may be too steep, or similarly dangerous conditions may be present that make it unsafe or inaccessible for your inspector. However, various cameras and drones are available to inspectors to provide them the visual information necessary to assess the roof's condition. In any case, the inspector will disclose what they could and could not cover during the inspection.
- The inspector will look for proper shingles installation, ones that need replacement, signs of sagging or moss growth, which usually signal more significant issues associated with the roof.
- The inspector will examine all the flashing and seals around the roof to verify they stop water from leaking into the home.
- The inspector will look for signs of any previous repairs done to the roof, from the exterior and the interior.
- The inspector will look for signs of any leaks that may have occurred, checking for any damage that any water intrusion may have caused.
Navigating the Findings of the Inspection
After this step, the inspector will compile their findings in their inspection report and will likely explain what they found to you in person if you attend the home inspection. If their are numerous issues or the roof is past its working life, chances are they will recommend a replacement. A roof in good condition can be a great selling point for first-time homebuyers, as it makes the home more "move-in ready." On the other hand, an old roof in poor condition may be a red flag that some homebuyers will not want to worry over. Homebuyers may choose to negotiate with the sellers to cover the roof replacement costs or at least a percentage of them. More often than not though, the cost of replacing a roof often falls upon the homebuyer, so you will need to factor that into your budget and decide if the home still makes sense for your situation.
Homeowner Roof Maintenance
Once you become a homeowner, you will need to keep on top of continued maintenance and keep an eye out for warning signs that there may be an issue with your roof. Homeowners should perform their roof inspection twice a year, often in the Spring and Fall. Here are some areas to cover during these inspections to make sure you stay on top of any issues that may occur and catch them early.
- Start inside by looking at the attic for any signs of leaks, which could be stains, discoloration, or light beams coming in from the roof.
- Look for shingles that may be damaged, broken, or otherwise out of place that will need to be repaired. In addition to your bi-annual inspection, you may want to look around your roof after a heavy storm as well.
- Check the flashing around chimneys, vents, and skylights that they are sound and the seals are keeping out moisture. If your flashing is roof cement or tar, upgrading to metal flashing systems to provide added sturdiness.
- Look for moss growth or sagging that is starting to develop.
- Makes sure any branches nearby are trimmed not to touch the roof or hang over the home. These branches encourage insects into your home, and they can damage your roof during periods of high winds and storms.
- You should know the age of the roof and the dates of any significant repairs. You should attain this information from the seller and have it verified by your home inspection.
If you find any issues during your inspections, you should call a professional to investigate further or repair the problems. If your roof is under 15 years, you may need a simple repair, replacing a few shingles. If the roof is older, then you may be due for a replacement.