In the past, not many home buyers would go through the trouble of getting a proper roof inspection on top of a home inspection but more and more people are. Mostly because general home inspectors are suggesting they do so.
Why? The main reason lies in understanding the life cycle of a roof. A flat roof might have a total life expectancy of say, 20 years. The problem is that it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between a 7 year old flat roof and a 15 year old one. Same goes for shingles. It’s only in the last few years of a roof’s life that it starts to exponentially decay and then become obvious and sometimes (to the credit of the material) not even until well after.
Most home inspectors simply don’t have roofing experience and even if they did, it usually requires more than 10 years to become adept at judging a roof’s age and condition.
What to look for? Well it would take volumes to answer that question but knowing at least some guidelines can be very helpful.
For shingle roofs and flat roofs that are smooth white mineral surfaces, both have granules as their finish and when they start falling out enough that you can see they are missing (there should be any missing at all so, even a layman can tell but you do have to look very closely – within 12 inches to the eye) then you know it’s approaching it’s final years. Very often they can last (or, at least, remain leak free) for another 5, 6, even 7 years after this, but you at least know it’s almost time.
Same goes for a flat roof. With a hot tar/gravel roof, it’s less obvious since, it’s mostly covered with gravel and you can’t see the membranes at all but usually there is something (wall, side of a chimney, etc) that is covered with the smooth white membrane (called capsheet or 72 lb) so look for that and see how it appears.
Next time we will discuss tile roofs. Call today if you need us.