First Time Home Buyers | What to Ask About the Roof

Buying your first home can be exciting, but you may also be experiencing some apprehension. Issues may be hiding that you can’t immediately see, and no area of a home is more likely to have hidden issues than a roof. Before you close on a home, there are a number of questions about the roof you should ask to get all the information you need. If you’re curious what questions you should be asking, read on for a basic home buying FAQ overview about the roof.

How old is the roof?

Knowing the age of the roof on your first home can alert you to any issues that may be present – or how long it might be before you can expect them to begin. Depending on the materials used for the roof, it can last from 15 to 50 years before needing to be replaced. Guidelines for when a roof is reaching the end of its lifespan include:

  • Asphalt Shingles: 15 to 20 Years
  • Top-of-the-Line Shingles: 24 to 30 Years
  • Metal: 30 to 45 Years
  • Concrete Tile: 35 to 50 Years
  • Wood Shakes: 20 to 40 Years

Since a roofing installation is a major undertaking, there are often public records of permits and planning. You can research any permits for a building on your own to discover how long ago it last received maintenance.

Keep in mind that many building codes allow for two layers of roofing on a home: the original roof and a secondary layer. Just because a second layer may have been added fairly recently doesn’t mean the bottom layer isn’t ready to give.

When was the last time there was a thorough roof inspection?

If you are buying your first home you probably know a thorough inspection is needed to find potential issues. Just like the rest of the house, having the roof thoroughly inspected is a critical part of the process. A number of defects can appear that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Roofs should be inspected every two to three years at the minimum. If the seller can’t tell you how long it has been since a thorough inspection, then make sure to have one conducted before closing.

CHR&R is one of the best roofing contractors in Southern California that offers free roofing inspections for your convenience.

Has there ever been a broken or busted pipe?

Broken pipes are a more common issue than you might think. When pipes burst, they can cause significant water damage; even in attic crawl spaces. Water damage to the insulation or interior of the roof can be just as troublesome as damage to a roof’s exterior. Mold is the biggest issue to look for, as well as any major leaks that might have compromised the roof’s integrity.

Have there ever been any leaks?

Whether a roof leaks water is an obvious question to ask when putting together a home buying FAQ, but it’s not just rainwater that can seep into a roof. Sunlight can also break through a roof when shingles are loose or missing. While large cracks that allow sunlight in can increase the temperature and impact utility costs, there’s also a risk of small animals entering through them.

How much insulation is in the attic?

Having enough insulation is important to ensure your first home is energy efficient. Knowing the extent of an attic’s insulation can give you an idea of whether you may need to invest in more. When inspecting the attic, examine the floor to see if it’s insulated. If you can see the tops of ceiling joists or the edges of the rafters, than beefing up the insulation is a good idea. You may even be able to request that the current homeowner take care of this as part of regular roofing maintenance.

When was the last time any repair work was done?

The first home you buy is something you want to take pride in, but you won’t want to sink a lot of money in right away. When speaking with the seller, ask them when and what kind of repair work has been done. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Gutters being properly cleaned
  • Shingles replaced
  • Any patches added to the roof

Learning about recent fixes gives you additional information about regular maintenance, but it also ensures you know who to turn to in case of future problems. Ask which contractor conducted the maintenance and if they have any warranties in place, so you can take advantage of existing solutions instead of having to pay for everything out of pocket.

Have there been any pest infestations?

Pest colonies, including termites and carpenter ants, can devastate a roof’s integrity. Before purchasing a home, make sure to ask about the history of infestations. If possible, ask for a receipt or other proof of pest control measures that were taken. Even if it has been sometime since pests were removed that doesn’t mean conditions aren’t ripe to attract them again.

Is the roof energy efficient?

Making your home energy efficient is a popular trend lately, especially among first time homeowners. Energy efficient buildings in California are mandatory and are part of building codes due to an effort to lower utility bills and energy costs.

You don’t have to go the extra mile of installing solar panels to get the job done, often the color of your roof is enough to ensure you enjoy the energy efficient benefits. White or lighter colored roofs reflect more sunlight and keep your house cool.

Let the Experts Help You

When it comes to buying your first home there are a lot of things to consider. Compiling your own home buying FAQ with questions to ask sellers before closing will help you make a decision you won’t regret. If you are unsure of what roofing questions to ask, add this list to yours for a comprehensive home buying FAQ.

If you have any questions about roofing services, don’t hesitate to reach out to the CHR&R team!