House Tour Tip: What’s up?

Before we ever walk inside a home, we always walk the perimeter of the property. One of the primary things we look at is the current and future health of the roof. Here are a few things to consider when you are touring a home or even just doing a drive by:

  • Aging. Most homes have an asphalt shingle roof, which will likely need to be replaced every 10-15 years. Look for visual cues of the roof’s age. Sometimes you can see black streaks where some of the gravel has washed away. If the roof dips or sags anywhere, that may indicate issues with the roof decking, the trusses, or worse – structural issues with the house.
  • Water Retention. No one wants a leaky roof, and a roof that doesn’t drain well is more likely to leak. Check to see if there are any severe peaks or angles that might trap leaves or other debris and hold water. If you’re house shopping in autumn, this will be much easier as you’ll be able to see where leaves or snow are getting stopped up. If you buy the house, you’ll have to make sure these areas stay clear to prevent future problems.
  • Weather Damage. Most shingles have a square shape, so if you see areas that are missing corners, that may indicate damage caused by weather or age. You also want to look around the edges to see if any shingles or sub-board have been loosened by wind. And if you live in an area that’s recently had a hail storm, you might see little dents in the shingles.
  • Future Menaces. One of our livability criteria was a historic neighborhood, in part because we love big ol’ trees. But older trees tend to have large limbs, and if those limbs hang over your house, they pose a potential threat to you in storms. Also, if the tree gets sick and dies, you are at a greater risk of something landing on your home until you pay someone to cut it down. In our area, taking down a tree will run you anywhere from $500 to $5500.

Why is it important to check out to roof? The roof is one of many critical components of the home that will allow you to live there safely and comfortably. Other critical components include the foundation, heating and air system, electrical system, plumbing, and major kitchen appliances. Having to replace one or more of these components after purchasing a house means you’ll need to be prepared to spend time or money – or both.

If you’re not prepared to repair or replace a critical component within a year of purchasing a home, it might cause you financial distress. For some people (myself included), the surprise of having to replace or repair a major component is more of an emotional let down – I’d rather be spending that money on paint, furniture, landscaping, etc.

Replacing a critical component of your home within the first year shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you love the house, but you should be prepared for what it will take to repair or replace (maybe even use it as a negotiation tool). Your home inspection report will also cover these major components, so be sure to pay attention to those sections and ask the inspector questions. If you want a second opinion, you can usually ask a contractor to give an estimate if you suspect a repair or replacement will be needed. Sometimes contractors charge a service fee for this, but $100 is worth it if it helps you either avoid a bad home purchase or identifies preventative maintenance.

What is the most significant component of a home that you’ve had to replace?

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