What to Look for in the Roof When You’re Buying a Home
Published On:  June 1, 2022
roof - what to look for

What to look for in a roof when buying a home or business

Are you considering the purchase of a new home or a business property?  Buying a new property whether it is a home or business is a huge investment!  Roofs can be very expensive to repair or replace if they are in need of repair.  

We will examine the most important factors on what you need to look for in a roof when purchasing a new home or business.


How old is the current rooftop?


The first thing you should do when buying a new home or business is check the age of the current roof.  As roofs age, repair costs start to outweigh replacement costs. When buying a new home or business, the last thing you want is the unexpected cost of replacing the roof.  For an average home,   a new roof could cost between $5000 – $8000 and can go upwards of $15000 for larger homes.   For commercial properties and businesses, prices can range significantly depending on factors such as roof size, parapet length, the number of curbs, roof pitch, roofing material and other factors.

Clearly, replacing a roof shortly after buying a new property is going to be expensive!   There are a number of things you can check to help determine the age of the roof quickly such as worn or missing shingles, blistering or perforations in the roof membrane(s), deformities in the roof, mold on the roof, water stains on the roof, attic, or interior.  This list can be checked rather quickly with a visual inspection of the outside and interior of the house or business.   If you want to be sure the current roof is in good shape, then it is better to have the roof inspected by a qualified roof inspector.  The roof inspector can check out the roof in more detail and uncover issues that a simple visual inspection won’t find.

Roof Aging Signs

  • Missing granules on shingles or roofing material
  •  Dark Spots on the roof
  • Leaks or water spots
  • Signs of Leaks or stains in the attic or mold growth
  • Sagging areas
  • Curled or buckled shingles
  • damaged flashing
  • moss or mold growing on the roof
  • Blistering or punctures on flat roof membranes

 shingle curling

Look for Proper Ventilation System

roof vent


A roof requires a proper ventilation system to keep roof temperatures from getting too hot or too cold and to keep moisture at bay. The roof ventilation system allows the flow of air through intake and exhaust.    Baffles and vents on the roof allow warm moist air in the attack to get exhausted from the attic or interior space to prevent moisture build-up that can cause roof rot and damage.  The vents also prevent the attic space from getting too hot.


Look for Good Drainage System

roof gutter 

When buying a new home, you will also want to check the roofs drainage system.   In a residential setting, you will want to check the condition of the gutters and downspouts.  Make sure they are in good condition and don’t have any cracks or breaks.  You will also want to ensure that the gutters are in good condition and aren’t banged up or dented.  Make sure the downspouts are not cracked or bent and are in good condition.

Commercial roofs have roof drains, scuppers, gutters, and a slight slope to direct water to the various drainage systems.  These systems can get clogged up or damaged.  Regardless of whether you are buying a new home or a business, you will likely want a roof inspector to do a more thorough check of the drainage systems to ensure they are functioning optimally.


Look for Stains or damage from the interior

While its important to look at the exterior when buying a new home and business, you will also want to look in the interior attic and wall spaces to look for signs of roof damage or wear.  If you see any water stains, bubbles, warping, or mold in the attic or interior wall spaces, it is a good sign the roof is failing or damaged.  In the case of a commercial or flat roof, a heavy rain can cause water pooling that can lead to roof leaks if the water does not drain quickly enough.  

If the roof structure gets enough water or moisture build-up, you could end up with costly repairs.  Businesses should ensure their commercial flat roofs are properly maintained and inspected by a qualified roof inspector on a routine basis.  Home owners will want to do periodic visual inspections of their attic and wall spaces after heavy rain fall and as the roof starts nearing the end of its life span.  If you notice obvious signs of water damage or mold, do not wait!  Call your roofing contractor immediately to assess the damage and recommend solutions. 


Ask the previous owner for a record of previous roof repair work 


When buying a new home or business, you will want to look for any paper work of previous roof repairs.  You will want to know the last time the roof was replaced prior to purchasing the property.  For shingled asphalt roofs, the average lifespan is between 15 – 30 years depending on the type of shingles.  For commercial roofs, the lifespan can range between 15 years and 50 years depending on the type of roof membrane and roof system installed.

You will want to know the last time the roof was installed and any work or maintenance that was performed on the roof. If roof maintenance appears to be lacking in the paper work, that is a red flag that could indicate major roof repairs may be needed. Make sure to hire a qualified roof inspector to evaluate the state of the roof of the home or business you are contemplating buying!

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