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Your Home

Should You Have a Roof Inspection Before Buying a House?

By Wendy Helfenbaum

June 22, 2022

A roofing professional on a ladder inspecting an older roof.

Buying a home is the biggest financial investment many people will make. In a hot real estate market, homebuyers may be tempted to remove any conditions from their offer to purchase—including a roof inspection—so their bid wins the house.

However, hiring a roofing professional provides essential information about the property's value, such as whether a potential new home's roof needs repairs or a replacement.

Why Do I Need a Roof Inspection?

A roof is your home's first line of defense against the weather, protecting your family as well as your investment. Even if you're buying a newer home, an inspector will verify that the roof was installed properly and explain any maintenance needs.

Many insurance companies also ask for updated information on the condition of your roof before they'll quote a homeowners policy. Your coverage and premium may vary based on the age of your roof and when it was last inspected.

If the seller offers you a report covering the home's overall condition, know that many types of roof damage are not visible from the ground or with an untrained eye. An independent inspection is meant to provide specific details that may help you avoid future surprises, such as the roof leaking after you move in.

What Do Roof Inspectors Look For?

A thorough inspection from an experienced roofer should take just a few hours or less, and it could save you from surprise costs down the line. The average roof inspections cost anywhere from $120-$300, but could be slightly more for more complex roofing systems.

Your roof inspector will look for signs of damage—broken, peeling, or missing shingles or panels, sagging supports, or rotting wood—stemming from storms or wear and tear. They'll check several areas of the roof for moisture damage, including the underside of your roof deck. The inspector may also enter the home in search of leaks or water damage and check the flashings by going into the attic.

Verifying that the soffit, fascia, vented areas, and skylights are in good condition is also on an inspector's checklist. They also ensure leaves and debris aren't clogging the gutters and check that waterspouts drain away from the house. Your inspector could also suggest trimming branches or climbing plants with the potential to damage your roof.

If you have a flat roof, your inspector will try to find signs of sagging and see whether the membrane is cracked, punctured, or split. All of these issues can compromise your roofing system, causing water leaks.

What Should You Ask Your Inspector?

Find out in advance from the sellers if your roof inspector is allowed access to the inside of the home you're hoping to buy. Ask your inspector how long the process will take and whether you should be onsite so they can point things out to you from the ground. If you're planning to build an addition that involves modifying the roofline, your roof inspector can recommend any upgrades or changes.

What Should I Do If My Roof Needs Repairs?

If the inspector notes that the roof needs major repairs or a replacement, they may be able to estimate the cost on site, or direct you to a roofing professional for a quote.

Not only will a thorough professional roof inspection before buying a house give you peace of mind, but if your inspector raises concerns—such as the urgent need for a complete roof replacement—you will get a written report that you may be able to use to negotiate the seller's price. Sometimes sellers will prefer to carry out the work prior to the sale. Paying for a roof inspection ultimately pays off, because you'll understand the true condition of one of your home's most important features before you move in.

If you plan on taking care of roof repairs or replacement, you can find a roofing contractor certified by GAF* in your area.


*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products. Your dealings with a Contractor, and any services they provide to you, are subject to the Contractor Terms of Use.

About the Author

Wendy Helfenbaum is a Montreal-based journalist, content marketing writer and TV producer who covers design, architecture, real estate, gardening and travel for many publications and brands, including Country Gardens, Metropolis Magazine, Realtor.com, Marriott Traveler, Costco Connection, Toll Brothers, PBS NextAvenue.org and many more. Wendy loves keeping up with current design trends and is addicted to home improvement DIY reality shows. Follow her @WendyHelfenbaum.

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