A blind woman in a Midwestern state purchased a house, only to discover it needed major roofing repairs due to damage from previous snow and ice storms. Her home inspector hadn’t done his job well, but she shrewdly managed to get money back from him in an out of court settlement. Unfortunately, her roof required major repairs.
Any home inspector worth his salt knows how vital it is to check out the roof thoroughly. It’s an important component of any good home inspection. In fact, the inspector who does his job properly looks at both the outside and inside of the roof.
If you’ve got a peak shaped roof, your inspector can make a visual inspection from the ground. For a closer look he may use binoculars. He may also climb a ladder and walk on the roof if it’s safe to do so. There are several things he’ll look at.
* Covering—Are there broken pieces? Is there any bubbling? He can let you know what he can about the roof’s age, design and materials used.
* Items penetrating the roof—This is in reference to skylights, vents, chimney exterior, and anything else coming from the roof. Of course, he’ll check flashings, too.
* Framing—Is there any rot? What about deflection?
* Drainage—What condition are the gutters and downspouts in? Is water draining off the roof properly?
* Obstructions—Are tree branches touching the roof? Is anything else touching the roof that could decrease its lifespan?
What if it’s winter, and your roof is snow covered? Your inspector isn’t obligated to go up on the roof that particular day, but he can still make observations. For example, if there are places where the snow appears to be melting, he’ll know those are spots where heat may be escaping from the inside. From the inside of the home he can determine if this is indeed the case and what’s causing the problem. Perhaps better insulation needs to be installed.
No matter what the weather, a look at the inside of the roof is just as important as the outside look. Your inspector may observe from the attic or crawlspaces whenever possible. Here are a few things he’ll be checking.
* Decking—Are there signs of rot, holes, breaks, or leaks?
* Items that Penetrate Outward—This includes the area around vents, the chimney, and anything else going outward through the roof. Are there signs of rot or leaks?
* Inside Framing—Once again, your inspector will check for signs of rot, breaks, etc. He will also check to make sure that framing has not been cut. Sometimes contractors will cut the framing to install other items such as equipment or piping. This can decrease the structural stability of the framing.
Those are just the basics that make up the inspection of your roof. Your home inspector will provide you with a summary in his report of this part of his complete home inspection process. Of course, he’ll make any recommendations as needed concerning any repair work that needs to be done.
In the meantime, here are a few simple things you can do to keep the roof in good shape.
* Be sure the roof drains properly. Keep gutters and downspouts cleaned and clear of debris.
* Be sure nothing is touching the roof like tree branches and leaves
* Repair leaks quickly. Leaks can cause rotting in the deck, and wood rot can spread easily. Catching this early helps prevent other major repairs.
We often take for granted the roof over our head, but good maintenance can minimize big, expensive problems later and make your home inspector’s job a little easier as well.