“Unfortunately, Mr. Buyer, due to X, Y, and Z, this roof will need to be replaced.”
Perhaps one of the most dreaded sentences that can come amid a home inspection.
Barry found the perfect home after months of searching within his constrained price range and geographical location. This was only the first step. After Barry narrowed down his focus, and then told his agent to pull the trigger (or, maybe just sign the contract) Barry finally let himself breathe. Moving out of the apartment where he lived for nearly a decade and finally becoming a homeowner was surely something to be proud of. After several intense days of contract negotiation (truthfully, Barry hadn’t planned for this) a closing date was set and the workings that go into a real estate contract after you agree to buy (click here for those details) begun.
Enter the Home Inspector.
The first thing our home inspector did was pull up, meet Barry and sign the inspection agreement. Barry felt confident that the home inspector was there to ensure that he didn’t purchase an asset that would turn out to really be a liability, but something inside Barry hoped that the house would appear to be just as good within the guts (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical) as it did on the outside. After the initial meeting, the home inspector begins with the outside of the house, walking the property and taking note of the vents, the windows, the slope, the grade, etc. (I can go on and on), before hauling off the 20ft ladder and making his climb on to the roof. One reason Barry’s agent told him this home inspector may be his best bet was that unlike many others, this inspector walked every roof that was feasible. Barry agreed that was best.
Until he stayed on the roof for a very long time.
When the home inspector climbed down the ladder and informed Barry that his roof was not the roof he wanted to purchase and that it was in need of complete replacement, Barry immediately thought of the hard work that had gone into finding the right house, in the right location, in the right price range, just before his lease expired. Maybe his agent could get a price reduction and the deal would move forward? Maybe not. The sellers wouldn’t budge. The deal fell apart. Barry moved on. This was exactly what Barry needed to do.
When we consider for a moment the importance of what a roof means to a house, it should come as no surprise that this is literally the “shelter” we refer to when selecting a place to lay our heads and raise a family. How good would 4 walls (or 12) do in the middle of rainstorm? Not much.
Yet we also understand that as vital as it is, the cost of replacing it can be just as much of a shock, and as if, well, we had no roof! A typical new roof can run anywhere from $8,000 - $10,000 (We’ve personally never seen them below $5,000) when hiring a professional roofer. And I’ll digress only for a moment to discuss DIY (Do it Yourself) pro’s: the damage from a bad (read: improper) roofing job will cost you 3, 5, or 10 times more than if you had paid someone to do the job for you. When the roof fails to protect the dwelling from rainwater and you begin to notice that it becomes necessary to wear your raincoat inside, you will quickly heed this advice and never make the mistake again. Let me save you the thousands (tens of thousands) now.
So what can be done to prevent our roof from expiring? How can we ensure that we don’t sell our home with a $10,000 price reduction because the new owner must have a new roof?
I’m glad you asked!
Seriously how many homeowners neglect home maintenance? Yes it sucks and who wants to spend Saturday in June fixing sheetrock, testing the AC unit, and replacing windows? Absolutely no one. We would all rather be at the beach, at the pool, in the woods, or even on the couch. So in keeping with my timeless advice, pick one month out of the year (preferably one that doesn’t include temperatures hovering above 80 where you could have much more fun elsewhere) and go through a total home maintenance review. You certainly don’t need a home inspector for this, though there are certainly pro’s to using us (and no con’s other than the fee you pay to sleep well at night). Check the warranties, read the manuals, and look for signs of roofing damage. If you spot a leak, it is much easier to replace today than in 5 years. And the bill by your contractor will be much, much smaller.
Know what to look for!
You don’t need to be a contractor or an inspector for this. Does rain flow into the gutters? I hope so. Are your shingles missing? I hope not. Correcting the minor things such as these are visual inspections every homeowner should be doing.
I won’t go on a tangent here but let’s consider this topic for a second. If you have fans that protrude from your roof, make sure they are running. John’s quit working and we spent an hour replacing his (watch here). If you notice bird’s building a nest in the soffit vents or front part of the attic, clean it out or have someone do it for you. When air cannot move in and out of an attic as it should, the attic can heat up causing damage to the shingles on the outside of the roof. You don’t want to get your insurance company involved because something as basic as these things were not taken care of.
Have it Inspected
Every 3 or 4 years have one of us or your favorite roofing contractor who you have on speed dial and that you’ve been best friends with since kindergarten (don’t have this best friend? Call us) come out and give it a quick look during your “maintenance month”. We can ensure that nothing out of the ordinary is occurring, that minor things are replaced or have been repaired properly, and that you are set for another 1,000 days or so. This ensures that you aren’t the seller or the happily settled homeowner who not so happily finds themselves forking over $8,000 - $10,000 for a roof instead of spending it on a trip to the coastline.
By the way, Barry found a new home that had only recently come to market. He submitted an offer the next week. The home passed inspection with flying colors and Barry moved in to live happily ever after. Or, at least up until the time of this writing.
- Spencer Brothers
President, Sterling Home Inspection, LLC