Savvy home-shoppers understand the importance of a well-built, properly maintained roof. These are the folks who aren’t shy about asking the tough questions when viewing a house:
How old is the roof? Who installed it—a reputable company or your cousin who doesn’t know a shingle from Shinola? When was the last time it was inspected? What’s the type and quality of the roof covering that was used? Any past repairs? How’s the flashing around the vent pipes? Recent hail damage? Leaks? Ice dam problems? Water stained ceilings and walls? Dampness in the attic? Pooling around the foundation? Water in the basement?
And on and on and on …
If you’re this kind of meticulous home-shopper (and you should be, considering the huge investment you’ll be making), hiring a home inspector to perform a foundation-to-roof inspection won’t even be a question. The more you know about the home you may call your own, the better. This is critically true of the home’s roof, one of the most expensive systems to replace.
This is why certified home inspectors, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, take into account aspects of the roof you may not have considered, including what type of roof it is. Each type of roof comes with its own set of common problems. Here are a few issues with five types of roof designs that inspectors at A-Pro have reported on over the last 26 years:
Gable Roofs: With their simple pitched inverted V design and ability to shed water, ice, and snow, the basic gable is one of the most common roof types found in the U.S. (these types are discouraged in high-wind, hurricane-prone regions). More complex types, such as cross gable, Dutch gable, and front gable, have a greater likelihood of leakage due to hips and valleys built into the structure. Your inspector will pay extra attention to the condition of the roof covering, which is susceptible to damage in high winds.
Hip Roofs: Unlike a two-sided gable roof, the strong and durable hip roof has four sloped sides that meet at the top, forming a ridge or a point. The problem: more seams mean more opportunities for leakage, which will be scrutinized by your inspector. Not as easy to construct as a gable roof, hip roofs present more challenges for less skilled contractors and may suffer from installation problems that will be noted on the home inspection report.
Mansard Roofs: Named after 17th-century French architect Francois Mansart, mansards are a four-sided, double-sloped gambrel roof with a flat top, making them a poor choice in snowy and rainy environments. Like any flat roof, a well-functioning drainage system is needed to prevent pooling rainwater up top. Because of the way shingles are hung on a mansard roof, they are prone to tearing or breaking, especially if the installer has not strictly adhered to manufacturer guidelines regarding the number of nails needed and where they should be driven. In the roof’s lower portions, inadequate flashing and lack of waterproofing can lead to damage from rain, snow, and ice.
Flat Roofs: Contrary to their name, flat roofs are not completely flat. A slight pitch in a flat roof allows for water to be effectively removed. If scuppers (a drainage device) become clogged with debris, flat roofs become susceptible to standing water, which can lead to leaking around roof penetrations or in spots where the single-ply roofing membrane has been compromised.
Gambrel Roofs: These barn-style roofs are often enhanced with dormers, which increase the chances of leaking. Further, a lack of weatherproofing in ridge areas can lead to moisture penetration concerns, and heavy snow accumulation can be a factor in causing significant structural damage.