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How to Inspect a Roof Before Buying a New House

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 14, 2021 3:37:00 PM / by Krystal Coddington

Krystal Coddington


After buying a new home, the last thing you want to deal with is an unexpected and expensive roof issue.

The best way to avoid that headache? Learn which roofing warning signs to look for before visiting your potential new home. That way, you’ll have a better idea about the roof’s overall health and how it might impact your wallet.

Obvious red flags or not, if you go forward with an offer - call in an expert for a thorough roof inspection service. Keep reading to learn what a roof inspector will look for and what you should be looking for, as well.

Don't Forget About The Roof

Once you’re a homeowner, it’s a matter of when and how much you’ll have to invest in your roof. These are questions that only a roof expert can answer.

On the flip side, a home inspector focuses on the house as a whole and will only list general roof information. They’re also not required to walk on the roof, while a potential new homeowner cannot safely do so either.

But until you get eyes up there, you can’t know the true health of the roof.

For example, in Las Vegas, many homes have tile roofs. Every tile needs to be in tip-top shape to ensure your home is protected. It may not be possible to see tile slippage or other common tile roof problems from the ground.

Moreover, a roof is integral to a home in more ways than you may realize.

Benefits of a Healthy Roof

  • It’s cost-effective.
  • It’s essential in protecting your entire home and your investment.
  • It’s critical to your health and safety.


Need a roof inspector or roof repair?
Contact The Original Roofing Company for assistance today!


How You Can Inspect The Roof

While your observations may be limited, you can at least get an idea of a roof’s condition before you put in an offer. Stand at a distance where you can get a full view of the roof but still be able to judge its overall integrity. If you can also do this from several different angles, even better.

Don’t forget to check inside the house, either.

To start:

Look for Water Stains or Mold

While you can sometimes spot this kind of damage from the ground, you’ll need to take a careful look at a home’s top-level ceilings.

Leaks seep will down and stain. They'll appear faint brown, like a coffee spill, and can indicate unseen structural damage.

Keep an eye out for mold, too. On the roof, the walls, the ceilings - really, anywhere. This fungus will be either green, white, or black. It usually appears as a splatter of shapes. Mold can also be dangerous in more ways than one: impacting your health, the air quality of your home, and giving off an unpleasant odor.

Whether it's water stains, mold, or both, address these hazards before you move in. You don’t want to deal with rotting walls or ceilings, never mind breathing in mold and getting sick.

Look for Broken Tiles

Determining the extent of broken tiles on a roof is your best bet for uncovering bigger potential problems.

Bring a pair of binoculars and inspect the roof from the yard. While you walk around the property, keep an eye out for chipped, cracked, or slipped tiles, although they may be hard to spot.

If it turns out that just tile repairs are needed, get them fixed before you move in. That way, down the line, you won’t be dealing with leaks or subsurface layers degradation. However, if there’s significant damage beyond the broken tiles, it’s an opportunity to step back and reassess if this is the best home for you.

Look for Obvious Defects

With the roof's age in mind, look for obvious deformities, such as curling edges or bulges. Also, ensure the roof isn't sagging in. Lastly, try to spot any noticeable damage to the gutters or drainage system.

How a Roofing Expert Will Inspect The Roof

If you want to know that you’re making the right decision in purchasing a new home - you need a proper and thorough roof inspection completed by an expert.

The roof inspector will go above and beyond a home inspector. This person will walk out onto the roof to determine its true condition and know how to spot hidden problems.

If there is damage, the roof inspector can tell you how much it will cost to repair and how it might have affected the home.

These are the things a roof inspector will check:

Tiles, Framing, and Sheathing

Broken tiles can indicate damage to the subsurface layers, such as the sheathing or the frame. Neither can afford to be compromised. The frame is the house's skeleton, while the sheathing sits on top of it, underneath the waterproofing layer and tiles.

Issues with the frame? Start crunching numbers for structural repairs, as well as a new roof. Degradation of the sheathing? More likely than not, water has gotten in, and you’ll need to figure out the extent of the damage. Even with one missing tile, you should never put off roof repairs. Because if there’s damage to one layer of the roof, there’s bound to be damage to another, and that puts the whole house at risk.

Fascias and Soffits

Though less obvious and sometimes overlooked, the fascia and the soffit are vital to keeping a home dry and well-ventilated. The fascia is the long board along the edge of the roof where the gutters attach. Meanwhile, the soffit is the underside of the roof, with intake vents for attic air circulation.

A roof inspector knows that if there is significant wear and tear to either area, it can become a problem in more ways than one. For instance, both usually protect against pests. So, if either is in bad shape, you may have some unwelcome guests in your new home.

Adequate Ventilation

With Las Vegas’s high temps, you can’t take chances with poor roof ventilation. If rising heat has nowhere to go, especially in the desert with the sun beating down, it can raise the house's temperature. Never mind your energy bills. Trapped heat can also mean a damp attic environment, ripe for mold.

A roof inspector will know what constitutes appropriate airflow for a home. If there are any obstructions, issues, or problems, they can advise you on what steps to take before you purchase or move in.

Gutters and Drainage

The gutter and drainage system of your roof protects your home during storms. Water can ruin a home's roof and walls, and it can even get down into the foundation and erode it.

An inspector will look for a drainage system in working condition, with no leaks, blockages, or debris. If that is not the case, they'll help you figure out what parts of the system require repair, replacing, and if any water got in.


Heat, heavy rain, and gale-force winds? Thank flashing for protecting the vulnerable spots on your roof. It is a durable sealant around vent pipes, joints, edges, and more.

An inspector will make sure that the flashing is doing its job and properly installed. Cracks or missing flashing can be a big problem since these are points on a roof susceptible to the elements. And if rain got in, the roof system could be failing.

Signs of Leaks

Sometimes a leak is only apparent in a rainstorm, with water dripping from the ceiling or down the walls.

But there are other signs of leaks that a roof inspector will look for, including:

  • Discoloration: Faint brown stains on the ceilings or walls from absorbing water
  • Warped seams: Usually between the ceiling and wall, this means a leak could have damaged the house frame
  • Mold and mildew stains: Found on walls and in attics
  • Curled or buckled shingles: Slipped, cracked, broken, or missing roof tiles
  • Cracked, missing, rusted, or otherwise compromised flashing

Leaks can lead to issues that affect the entire home. Finding the source of a leak is imperative. Not only does it need to be fixed, but assessed for causing other potential problems, especially on the roof.

A leaking roof can indicate a failing roof, perhaps one on the verge of collapse. A roof inspector can tell you the extent of the damage and how much it will cost to repair it.

The Rest of the Roof

A roof inspector can tell you if there are any concerns about roof attachments, including but not limited to HVAC units, antennas, and lightning arresters. If these were not mounted properly, this can result in damage to the roof or other problems. Skylights, especially, can be a source of hidden leaks.

Even though they seem like mere accessories, they still contribute to the overall integrity of the roof. It is worth the time and professional eye of an expert to assess such attachments.

An Estimate of the Roof’s Remaining Lifespan

Once the roof inspector puts together their report, they can tell you the lifespan left on a roof.

Materials affect a roof's age. So, an older roof may be in great shape if maintained. On the other hand, a new roof may have inadequate ventilation and already show signs of needing major repairs.

The lifespan consideration of a roof will let you know ahead of time what you’ll need to budget, if you should back out, or if you’ve scored a bargain.

Should You Buy a House With an Old Roof?

Is it too much of a gamble, even in Las Vegas, to buy a house with an old roof? Some would say yes and immediately walk away. However, if you’re aware of what you’re getting into, then your gamble might pay off in spades.

First, you must determine the roof's age, remaining lifespan, repairs done to it, and any likely maintenance needed down the line. A three-fold assessment: by you, the home inspector, and a roofing expert will help you gather all the information you need to move forward. For instance, the home may only need a lift and relay instead of a full roof replacement.

Next, figure out your budget and needs. If you want a move-in-ready house, that old roof might be a dealbreaker. Also, talk to the seller to see if they'll make repairs or bring down the price.

Finally, it’s time to dive in and buy - or walk away.

Here are some warning signs to consider with an old roof:

  • Roof material versus potential lifespan (Find out more here)
  • Missing shingles or tiles allowing patches of sunlight in
  • Moss or algae growth on shingles
  • Mold or mildew
  • Roof leaks
  • A sagging roof and extensive structural damage to the frame

New Home? You Need the Roof Guard® Maintenance Program

After purchasing your new home, mitigate worries of roof maintenance and repairs by signing up for our Residential Roof Guard® Program.

Providing homeowners with a professional eye, the Roof Guard Maintenance Program® takes care of inspections and maintenance so that you don’t have to worry about it. This preventative program prevents exterior and interior damage to your roof, as well as finds undetected leaks and other problems that require repairs. Because when roof problems are found and fixed early enough, it saves you money and prevents disasters to your home.

Some of the services include:

  • A professional team with the proper equipment to inspect and handle roof issues
  • Roof inspections are done on an annual or semi-annual basis
  • Minor repairs for roof leaks, loose tiles, and refastening of any materials

All of which will:

  • Extend the lifespan of your roof by 50%
  • Protect you and your family by preventing major interior damage, as well as health hazards posed by an undetected roof issue

    Not to mention, the Roof Guard Maintenance Program®:
  • Entitles you to priority appointments and emergency service response
  • Provides you with documentation of ongoing roof maintenance
  • Increases the value of your home

    Save money, protect your home and investment, and get a free estimate for the Roof Guard Maintenance Program®.

Contact Last Vegas’s Leading Roofing Contractor

When purchasing a home, a roof inspector can give you priceless peace of mind. You won't be caught off-guard by roof problems, such as hidden leaks, faulty gutters, inadequate ventilation, mold, pests, or compromised protection from Las Vegas heat.

Don’t make a decision on your biggest investment without a roofing expert backing you up!

Contact The Original Roofing Company, proudly serving Las Vegas for over 50 years, for a free estimate or any roof-related questions.

Topics: Roofing

Krystal Coddington

Written by Krystal Coddington