What You Need to Know About Roof Inspections

a roofer working on a roof

Your roof keeps out the elements, allows air to circulate, and protects your home’s structure. It is your home’s most expensive replaceable component, costing on average $15,000. Whether you are purchasing a new home or have lived in your home for years, it is always a good idea to have a certified roof inspection performed to ensure your roof is in top working condition.

Hailstorms, insurance policies, and escrow are just a few of the driving forces behind roof inspections. We examined all things roof inspections to provide you with everything you need to know about the process.   

What is a Roof Inspection?

Your roof is constantly working to protect you from the elements, requiring routine maintenance to perform at its best. A roof inspection may not seem like a big deal, but insurance companies often use the health and age of your roof to approve or deny your insurance policy and claims.

A roof inspector uses a combination of interior and exterior inspections to examine all roofing components to determine performance and roof repair needs. When buying or selling a home, some inspections certify a roof, determining the expected lifespan and whether a roof replacement is required.

Roof inspections typically cover:

  • Roofing materials like shingles, metal, and tiles
  • Gutters
  • Flashing around protrusions or skylights
  • Vent covers 
  • Caulking 
  • Interior areas like attics and ceilings 

When Should You Have a Roof Inspection?

Like most homeowners, you know dark streaks, circular stains, and drafts are telltale signs of a leaking roof, but there are other reasons you should have a roof inspection performed, including:  

  • Following a major storm: Large storms involving high winds, flying debris, or hail can wreak havoc on your home. Insurance companies often require a roof inspection in order to process storm damage claims. 
  • In the spring and fall: Different roofing materials and climates require different maintenance routines. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, homeowners with older roofs or those living in harsh climates should have their roofs inspected twice a year in the spring and fall. 

Having your roof inspected in the fall ensures there is enough time to complete repairs before winter weather. For newer roofs and milder climates, experts recommend having your roof inspected annually in the fall. 

  • When buying or selling a home: Roof appraisals add a selling point to your property and offer peace of mind to potential buyers.

What Are the Benefits of a Roof Inspection?

You can’t put a price on peace of mind. According to the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association, 77% of inspected roofs in the U.S. need repairs and over 9% need to be replaced. Regular roof inspections help prevent costly problems, providing benefits like: 

Why Do Insurance Companies Require a Roof Inspection?

Anytime an insurance company issues a policy to a homeowner, they take on risk. These companies want to know exactly how much of a risk your roof is to insure. Older roofs or those in poor condition equate to higher risks, higher premiums, and sometimes not being insured at all.  

If your roof fails, it can quickly snowball into other, larger issues your insurance company has to pay out for, including interior damage, wall damage, water damage, and more. While your insurance company is there to assist you with loss, they expect quid pro quo in which you do your part to keep your roof in good shape. 

When Do They Require a Roof Inspection? 

Most homeowners know that buying a new home requires a thorough inspection of the property, including the roof. Not only does this provide peace of mind, but it also assists your new insurance company in approving or denying coverage for your homeowner’s policy. 

Many factors play a role in an insurance company’s decision to require a roof inspection, including: 

  • Large storms
  • Insurance claims
  • The age of your roof
  • A suspicion that you have not performed routine maintenance
  • Condition of coverage
  • You had your roof replaced
  • New policies

What Do They Look for in a Roof Inspection?

Photo credit: Win Henderson / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

A roof inspector assesses the condition of all components and determines the cause of problems. There are three stages to an inspection: materials inspection, structural inspection, and interior inspection. 

Materials Inspection

In this portion of the inspection, the inspector will focus on the materials of your roof, such as shingles, tiles, or metal panels. They will look for loose, curling, or missing materials, examine materials for staining, moss, algae growth, wood rot, or rust, and check all rubber seals and boots around vents and skylights. Additionally, the inspector will note areas of exposed underlayment. 

Structural Inspection

The structural inspection checks for sagging and uneven areas of your roof while examining the major components of your roof system, like rafters and trusses. Structural inspections include examining:

  • Gutters and downspouts to ensure they are firmly attached and free of standing water and shingle granules
  • Flashing for deterioration, rust, or cracking
  • Attic vents for condensation, debris, and mold 
  • Rubber boots for a tight seal
  • Chimney masonry for cracks and missing stones or mortar
  • Chimney caps for damage
  • Wood areas for termite damage

Interior Inspection 

The roof inspector will inspect your ceilings, attic space, and interior walls for mold, rot, and signs of stains and water damage. 

How Much Does a Roof Inspection Cost?

Location plays the largest role in the cost of a roof inspection. On average, roof inspections cost $215 but range from $75 to $600 or more. If your insurance company requests the inspection, often there is no charge to you. 

Physical roof inspections are the simplest and most common type of roof inspection, costing between $75 to $200. Specialized drone inspections for steep or un-walkable roofs cost between $150 to $400, while infrared inspections using thermal imaging are the most expensive, costing between $400 to $600. 

FAQ About Roof Inspections

Can I perform my own roof inspection?

Professional roofers understand the importance of regular roof inspections. In fact, the No. 1 cause of a leaking roof is ineffective maintenance. If you want to gauge the conditions of your roof without involving your insurance company and you are comfortable with heights, you can perform your own roof inspection. However, your findings will not be considered an official inspection or insurance claim to cover repairs.

How long does a roof inspection take?

The inspection process checks for signs of damage to both the interior and exterior of your roof and home. Depending on the size and slope of your roof, the inspection process typically takes one hour to complete. Many professional inspection companies now use timesaving drone technology, shaving off nearly half an hour from the process. 

Do roofing companies perform roof inspections? 

Many roofing companies perform inexpensive or free roof inspections as a quote for repairs or replacements, often offering services after a large storm. Independent roofing contractors are a better choice for seasonal and thorough roof inspections and appraisals.

Roof Inspection Next Steps

About 85% of properties sell with damage or leaks, making a thorough home inspection extremely important. If your comprehensive roof inspection uncovers hidden damage or if your roof needs to be replaced, contact a local roofing pro to find out your next steps and get back your peace of mind.

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Kimberly Magerl

Kimberly Magerl is a writer and data analyst specializing in home improvement, DIY, roofing, and solar technologies. She enjoys growing vegetables in her garden, getting outdoors, and transforming her space with DIY projects. A resident of Texas, when she isn't gardening, Kimberly enjoys trying new recipes and cooking with her home-grown herbs.