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Questions for a Roof Inspector When Buying a New House

The quality of a house's roof is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a home, but it's also one of the hardest to judge on your own. If you have an inspector looking at the roof, make sure you ask them these four questions:

two-story brick house at sunrise with brick mailbox at end of front door's walkway

Ask about the roof's age.

While different roofing materials have different lifespans, the age of the roof can tell you a lot about the property. If the roof is brand new, that could mean there was extensive previous damage. But it could also mean that the home is in a region with frequent hailstorms, which means the roof gets replaced more often. No matter what the roof's age, that number combined with other signs of maintenance or disrepair gives you a more comprehensive picture of the house.

Find out if there have been patches or signs of previous damage.

Unless the shingles are different colors, it can be difficult to find out on your own if there are patches, so ask the roof inspector. Just like with the age of the roof, patches can be either a good or a bad sign, so don't rely solely on this factor. Instead, inspect the attic under patched areas for signs of water damage.

Are there multiple layers of shingles?

When a roof is re-shingled, the previous layer of shingles doesn't always have to be removed. In fact, it's relatively common to just apply a new layer of secured shingles. But if the layered roof is reaching the maximum safe weight for the structure, that could mean a hefty price tag when it comes time for you to replace the roof.

Finally, ask what the roofer recommends or if they would buy a home with a similar roof.

It's impossible to have a completely comprehensive list of questions that address every potential problem in the roof. Instead, ask the inspector what they think about the roof. Depending on the constraints and company policies, the inspector may only be able to give a pass/fail answer or a safety rating and answer your direct questions. So make sure you fit in a question that helps them give a more complete answer. Asking for their recommendation also invites conversation and a more informal, though still professional, answer.

Knowing what to ask inspectors ahead of time helps you get the most information possible in making a sound decision. Contact us for more questions and warning signs to be aware of while searching for your next home.

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