Buying an Old House? Roofing Issues to Watch For

Buying an Old House? Roofing Issues to Watch For

common roofing issues on old homesOne of the things people love about house hunting in Portland are the charming older homes. In some of our historical neighborhoods you can find homes that were built more than a century ago. It’s true— they just don’t build ‘em like they used to. But, while these older homes were built with more strength and character, they typically need important updates to comply with today’s building codes.

When you fall in love with one old abode in particular, you’ll need to have it inspected to initiate the purchase process. Some of the essential system checks of a home inspection include the foundation, plumbing and electrical. But, let’s say you meet the seller and he mentions that he’s had the roof patched a few times in recent years. If that’s the case, you’ll definitely want to call for an individual inspection by a roofing specialist. The roof is a critical element of the home, and its needs can make a significant impact on your budget.

Here are some things you, as a prospective buyer, can keep an eye out for on your own:

Roofing Inspection with the Untrained Eye

Even while you’re standing on the curb you may be able to spot some concerns. For example, complex roof lines with lots of valleys tend to leak over the years. However, intricate roof lines are more typically of newer homes. Here are some of the other things to watch out for when inspecting the roof of an older home.

  • Missing, curled, or deteriorated shingles are signs that the roof needs help. Also look for clumpy moss and algae that is visible, which are signs of possible moisture trouble.
  • As you wander through the kitchen and bathrooms, try out the exhaust fans. Fully functioning exhaust fans are a must for the health of your roof (and home overall), but that will also depend on what you find in the attic.
  • When inspecting the attic, look for signs of water damage or insufficient insulation. You also want to check for adequate intake ventilation and exhaust ventilation. Let’s say, for example, a bathroom exhaust fan is emptying into the attic without being sealed and connected to a vent to escape. Or maybe the attic isn’t ventilated at all. All that hot, moist air is going to collect in the attic and condensate on the roof decking, leading to mold and rot (if it hasn’t already). This is guaranteed to shorten life expectancy for your roof.
  • 1900-1940: Homes built during this time are known to have inadequate insulation. Many of them also have bad gutters and unlined chimneys.
  • 1960-1980: Look for insufficient or non-existent attic ventilation. You may need to add continuous vents and the ridge and soffits.
  • 1980-present: During this time, asphalt shingle manufacturers shifted from an organic mat to that of fiberglass. These are lighter and more fire resistant, but they crack, rip and tear just like the old stuff. If it’s more than 15 years old, you may need to consider replacing it.

Our experienced inspectors will go over the roof with a fine-tooth comb!
Call us for an inspection at 503-635-8706

Just remember, not every sign of disrepair is a deal breaker. If you truly love a home and are committed to taking care of it, then put on your patience cap and try to stay positive. Negotiate the cost of any estimated work in to the price of the home, if you can. It’s a good possibility that an older home has already had some recent work done, so get the documentation on what was done when and by whom. Check to see if the contractors were reputable and work on transferring over any applicable warranties.

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