When you decide to put an offer on a house, chances are, it’s because you fell in love with the interior design of the home, the neighborhood, or the square footage. One thing that probably didn’t set your heart aflutter is the roof. But this out-of-sight-out-of-mind part of the house should be carefully considered when selecting a new home in rainy Seattle, WA, or any other area of the country: It’s crucial to protecting you and your belongings, and can be costly to repair.
So how do you know what shape your new home’s roof is in? When you put an offer on a house and approach the closing date, you’ll receive your home inspection report. Read it carefully: You might spot a disclaimer about the status of the roof and a recommendation for an additional inspection, which should be completed by a certified roof inspector.
A roof’s composition and its age are both important factors in determining whether your future home’s cover needs to be negotiated with the seller. Even if your disclosure statement notes that the roof is 11 years old — which might sound fairly new to you — be mindful that roofs can last anywhere between 10 and 50 years. Traditional tar-and-gravel roofs usually last 10 to 20 years; composition shingle roofs, which are a popular choice these days, usually last about 20 years; and clay-tile roofs, like those seen on Spanish-Mediterranean homes, can last for 50 years or more (yet are much more expensive to build and maintain).
Also know that many home inspectors are not legally required to perform a physical inspection of the roof, so if their visual inspection was limited because of inclement weather or the like, they could inadvertently omit substantial issues. That’s all the more reason to take it to heart if your report recommends an additional look, knowing that inspectors who are licensed with the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association (NRCIA) can also issue a leak-free-roof certification, which guarantees the life and quality of the roof.
Getting the additional inspection and leak-free certification may cost a few more hundred dollars, but requesting that a seller address any issues with the roof before closing could make it well worth the cost. Roof problems are responsible for 39% of homeowners insurance claims, according to the NRCIA.
Certified roof inspectors will examine not only the home’s protective cover for the presence of any leaks or structural damage caused by water but also the interior of the house, its attic, its perimeter, and any attached garage and rooftop. Then they create a detailed report that specifies any necessary repairs and estimates what those repairs will cost. If repairs aren’t needed, or if an NRCIA contractor subsequently makes any suggested repairs, the roof then qualifies for certification.
As with any other home inspection, it’s wise to be present for the roof exam. Many buyers don’t realize that they can attend an inspection, but good inspectors often appreciate your being there. That way, they can show you firsthand what they find — and let you know whether it’s a big deal in your home purchase.