The housing market in Phoenix has been white-hot this year with more homes changing owners than we've seen in quite a while. With this kind of demand, many buyers are making quick offers to stay competitive, sometimes without knowing the in-depth condition of the home and roof.
While it's up to the buyer whether or not they are comfortable not knowing the full picture, we always recommend doing a little extra work to understand the true condition of the roof prior to purchase. After all, your roof protects all your valuables inside the home.
Knowing what to ask the seller, or the seller's agent, is the first step to assessing the true condition of a prospective new home's roof. To help you get started, we've compiled the questions we feel are most critical. Please read on, and never hesitate to contact us if you spot something concerning during your inspection.
1. What materials make up the roof?
Knowing what materials a roof is made out of can help you determine how much life it has left. Some roofing options last longer than others, like foam roofs that have a lifetime of 50+ years with regular and relatively easy maintenance. Some roofs also have different maintenance requirements to ensure a long life. Certain types of underlayment last longer than others as well. Knowing what materials the roof is comprised of before putting in an offer can help you figure out if a new roof expense is on the near horizon, as well as how much maintenance you should factor into your plans.
2. How old is the roof?
As we mentioned in point #1 above, different roofs have different expected lifetimes. If the house you're interested in has a tile roof that hasn't been replaced in 25 years, it's probably at the end of its life and will soon need replacement. If it was just replaced a few years ago, chances are it is in decent shape still and will need minimal maintenance in the near term.
Understandably, many new homeowners are reluctant to factor in the cost of a roof replacement after their home purchase. Of course, it's up to the buying party if they are willing to take on that expense. Being informed of where it is at in its lifetime can help you decide if you're willing to take it on or not.
3. Is the original installer still in business?
Although roofing materials can tell you a lot about the durability of the roof, they won't communicate the complete picture. Experience and workmanship are equally important to ensure a long roof life. Knowing who the original installer was, and if they are still in business, will tell you a lot about the quality of the roof and, most importantly, if there is any warranty remaining. We always recommend asking the selling party who installed the roof and doing a little research into how reputable that roofing company is and whether they are still in business.
4. Any patchwork over the years?
Even if the full roof wasn't recently replaced, there may have been repair work done along the way. Like any roofing work, fixes can vary in quality. It's not uncommon for a pre-sale repair to prioritize price and expediency over longevity. A trained eye can spot a sloppy quick-fix vs. a quality repair. This is another good argument for a professional roofing inspection prior to purchase.
5. Is the roof still within warranty?
Most roofs come with a manufacturer warranty and a workmanship warranty from the roofing company that completed the installation. In general, the manufacturer warranty covers defects in the roofing material, and the workmanship warranty covers any defect in the actual installation portion. If the roof is still covered under either of these, it can save you time and money down the road if a defect is revealed. We have a dedicated blog that details what you should know about roofing warranties. Not all warranties are created equal, so make sure to ask for a breakdown from the seller or contact the roofing company directly for details.
6. Was the roof recently inspected?
If it's been years since the roof was last assessed by a professional, there could be hidden issues just waiting for the next monsoon to reveal itself. Although the roof will be looked at as part of a typical buyer's inspection, these inspectors are typically not professional roofers . We always recommend hiring a professional roofing company for a free inspection to gain a clear picture of roof integrity. Many roofing contractors offer free roof evaluations, so if you're buying a home that is a safe route to take for an expert's opinion on the roof.