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Buying a Home? Signs the Roof Needs Repair

In the effort to buy a new home, a lot of things might catch your eye. You might love the home’s siding, the yard, the exterior paint color. You might do a thorough examination of the interior, checking the plumbing, the HVAC, the room sizes, and a whole lot else.

But what about the roof?

If you look at the home and notice the roof is wholly dilapidated, you’ll know it needs repairs. When shingles are falling off the sides, and there’s sagging visibly from the ground, someone’s going to need to put some work in.

Today, we’re going to look at some of the less obvious signs that a roof needs repairs – and we’ll talk about whether or not you should buy a home in need of roof repairs, too. 

How much can a home inspector tell you?

Laughing male constructor showing thumb up at working desk

It would be best if you never bought a home without getting a home inspection first. Sometimes, the seller will even offer to pay the home inspection fee – very courteous sellers will even get the inspection done before showing their home. However, you will want to talk to the inspector yourself to make sure you understand the report.

Home inspectors can tell you a lot about a home. However, they aren’t required to go on the roof and do a full inspection in most cases. That means they can only tell you about the damage that’s visible from the ground up. 

As we’ll see in the next section, that can lead to a lot of information about potential roof problems – but it’s not enough. To get the most accurate picture possible, you’ll also want to get a roof inspection done. 

The view from the ground up

Brown and Green House

What can we learn from the ground? For one, we can spot the signs of moss, algae, and other growth – discoloration will often appear on shingles visible from the ground. 

These growths don’t do very much damage to roofs on their own, but they are a sign that there may be leaks or extra moisture on the roof. 

You may also see signs that the roof’s flashing is damaged. Flashing is the metal that surrounds chimneys and other areas water needs to be diverted from. When it seems bent out of shape, it will need to be repaired. 

Take a look at the ground and the area around the gutters, too – if you see a lot of granules, it’s a sign that the shingles on the roof are old. 

Poking around the attic

Fir Tree Decor

One of the easiest ways to spot signs of roof damage is by going up to the attic. If you catch beams of sunlight pouring into the attic, you know you have roof damage – if sunlight is beaming through, water can leak in, too.

In the same vein, if you spot stains and streaks, water has likely been leaking into the roof.

Look at the paperwork

Pile of Folders

When was the last time the roof was repaired? When was the roof installed? The seller should have all of this paperwork available – if they don’t, it becomes an even better idea to hire a roof inspector. 

Generally, if a homeowner has upgraded their roofing recently with something like a new roof vapor barrier, they’ll be thrilled to tell you about it. And if they haven’t had any work done on their roof recently – especially if they have an older house – then the roof probably needs some work. 

Hiring a roof inspector

Smiling casual man in hardhat and glasses holding arms crossed looking at camera while standing at desk with paper draft and stationery

If you want to get the whole picture, you’ll need to hire a roof inspector. You can put in the effort to check the roof from the ground and walk through the attic yourself – but your home inspector has probably done all of this already. They’ll get up onto the roof and check every inch for damage.

It’s worth mentioning that if you hire a roof inspector and then plan on repairing the roof, you should never use the same company that did the inspection. Otherwise, you’ll have a conflict of interest on your hands. 

Should you buy a home with a roof that needs repairs?

Rainbow Over Sea Behind Roof

The answer to that question varies from person to person – and from home to home. A roof that is in desperate need of repair has probably leaked a lot of water into the house. That water damage may not be evident at first glance. Extensive roof repairs often mean replacement is the better option – and getting a whole new roof can be costly.

Obviously, if you’re incurring these expenses as the buyer, you can sometimes negotiate a lower price for the home. The question then is this: are you willing to put up with the headache of repairing the roof to buy the house at a lower price? 

Home and roof inspectors will help you find the answer – they may be able to estimate the cost of repairs for you. That makes the cost-benefit analysis much more straightforward.

Having a capable Realtor on your side is a huge asset in these cases – they can help negotiate the price and give you a better idea of whether or not roof repairs are worth it. 

Happy home hunting! 

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