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What to Look for In a Roof When Buying a Home

What to Look for In a Roof When Buying a Home

What to Look For in a Roof When Buying a Home

Buying a home is very exciting. You have a budget in mind, and ideas of what you want your home to include. In the competitive real estate market, some buyers make surprising compromises. But understanding the roof condition of the home is one of the most important things you could do. This may be the difference between buying a worthy investment, or a financial disaster. 

A roof repair can cost anywhere from $5,000 – $15,000 or more. This is money most buyers don’t have laying around.

Fortunately for you, we have put together a guide of roof-specific things you should look out for in your home purchasing. 

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Age of the roof

Of course, roofs don’t last forever. The older the roof, the sooner you will have to go through the process of replacing it.  The first step is to ask the current homeowners if they know how old the roof is. A majority of homeowners will be able to provide this information. 


If that is not the case, you may be able to find the necessary information from the local municipality’s building permit records since permits are required for a roof replacement. 

Roofing material quality

Equally as important as the age of the roof, the quality of roofing materials used is a strong indicator of how long the roof will last. With different roofing materials, the lifespan can vary up to 65 years! Here is the typical lifespan of different roofing materials.

  • Asphalt: 15-30 years
  • Clay Tiles: 40-50 years
  • Metal Roofing: 50+ years
  • Slate Shingles: 80+ years

It’s important to note that these estimates vary largely in each category. For example, there are the basic three-tab shingles that may last 15 years and premium architectural shingles that could last 30. 

Buyer's assessment of the roof

It’s possible to get pretty good assessment of the roof as a buyer without the risk of climbing on the roof. Remember, if you see any damage, be sure to snap a photo.

Let’s take a look at what some damages might look like…

From the Ground

Walk the full exterior around the house and keep an eye out for these serious signs of roof damage.

  • Missing and broken shingles
  • Debris-filled or sagging gutters 
  • Loose flashing around chimneys, vents, or skylights
  • Unusual stains on the roof surface
  • Algae growth (it normally appears as streaking)
In the Attic
On top of checking the outside, take time to inspect the guts as well. The attic is one of the best places to check for damage as if you can see any leaks, this is a for sure sign of damage. 
  • Daylight peeking through the roof
  • Water damage on the trusses 
  • Compacted insulation from getting wet
If you notice issues with the roof, they should be addressed immediately. Signs like the ones listed above can result in very costly repairs down the road. 

Have a professional roof inspection

After your own inspection, a professional roof inspection may be your next move. It’s very tempting to overlook problems that don’t seem very important. DO NOT do this. Bring out a roof inspector before you make any commitments. Once you have the roofing inspection, the roofing professional will have provided all the necessary information to handle a roofing replacement with the seller.

Most roofing companies offer free roofing inspections so there may be no cost to you. Even though a residential property inspector has general knowledge about roofs, a roofing professional will have better training and a deeper understanding.

At the end of the day, calling up a roofing professional will give peace of mind and the clarity that you deserve when buying a home.

What to do if the roof is bad

In some instances, both the professional roofer’s and buyer’s assessments will indicate the roof is in good condition. But what are the next steps if there were issues raised? Some issues may be significant enough to move on looking for the next home.

If you have fallen in love with the home and don’t want to let it go because of poor roof quality, here are some things to consider.

New roofs are a major investment. This cost should be factored into your purchase price. You could ask for negotiation in the sales price or a credit towards a new roof. 

In this case, contact a roofing professional to get an accurate quote on the cost of a roof replacement. 

Things to negotiate with the seller

Negotiations can be difficult. It is important that you consult with a professional real estate agent, home inspector, and roofing expert. Everyone involved has a shared interest of closing the deal, so typically there is an acceptable outcome. 

Some items to think about…

  • When the roofer gets paid. In the best case, the company will wait until closing to get paid. Therefore, no exchanges are made too soon. 
  • How the roofer gets paid. It would be best if the seller would cover 100% of the roof replacement. Commonly, buyers typically expect a 50/50 split on the replacement. This decision allows lots of room for negotiation.
  • Who is in charge of hiring the roofers. Ensure that you get a say in the roofing company, type of roof, and materials. You deserve a quality job and the seller wants the best profit!
  • Get more than one opinion. If the seller gets a roof replacement quote, it is important that you get an inspection from your chosen roofing contractors as well to compare estimates. There are many possible discrepancies.

Don't forget the maintenance!

Once you get a hold of your new home, don’t let its precious elements go without care. Weather it’s brand-new or not, there are steps to help your roof last as long as possible.

  • Keep your gutters and downspouts clear of debris and keep an eye out for signs of damage
  • Trim back any branches that could drop debris onto your roof
  • Inspect your roof every season. You can do this from the ground or by using a ladder
  • Leaky ceilings, attics, and water stains are all major signs of roof damage that should be addressed as soon as possible
  • Receive regular inspections from roofing professionals. They have the training to spot problems that could turn serious down the road
These are some of the most important tasks you as a homeowner can complete to take proper care of your roof. Rest assured you have done what you need to keep your new home, and family safe under a strong roof.


As a buyer, you want to be fully informed before you put up an offer to purchase a home. It would be ideal to purchase just the home and not all of the problems that come with it. Unfortunately, this is never the case. However, your future home’s roof quality is something you get to control.

With this guide, you can rest soundly with the knowledge that you will stay warm and dry all night long in your new home. 

Call T-10 Construction today for a FREE inspection and estimate!