Roof Inspections: Why They Are Important, What to Expect, and How to Prepare for Them

A roof inspection can give you valuable insight into the condition of your roof and point you in the right direction for repairs or replacement. Make sure you know what to expect when you get your roof inspected.

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When was the last time you had your roof inspected? If you're like most homeowners, it's probably been a while. But did you know that a roof inspection can save you thousands of dollars in the long run?

Whether you're buying a new home or have been in your current home for years, a roof inspection is an important part of maintaining your property. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about roof inspections, including what they are, why they're important, and how to prepare for one.

By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of why roof inspections are crucial for protecting your home and how to go about scheduling one for your property.

What is a Roof Inspection?

The purpose of a roof inspection is to find problems and issues with the roof and to assess the remaining life of the roof. As a homeowner, your home's roof may be one of the most costly expenses you incur. The minimal price of an inspection to ensure there are no major damages that have occurred over time is well worth the money spent. There are some visible signs that you as a homeowner may see; however, a professional roof contractor can perform a thorough inspection of the entire roof. Some types of damage are not visible to the untrained eye so it is important to get a professional opinion.

When to Schedule a Roof Inspection

You should get your roof inspected annually in order to know the state of the roof. But, you should also have your roof inspected after significant weather events, such as a hailstorm, in order to assess whether there has been damage. A perfect time of the year to get your roof inspected is in the fall before the cold harsh weather of winter arrives.  If you need to have roof repairs or a new roof installed, it's best not to do so in the cold weather. Frigid temperatures can impair the success of a new roof installation or repairs because new shingles can't seal down properly when it is too cold. Additionally, performing roof work when it is icy has the potential for accidents. This is all to say that you should inspect the roof early in the fall so that any work that is needed will be done before the bad weather sets in.

Types of Roof Inspections

If your roof is less than five years old and shows no signs of interior leaks, you may be able to visibly inspect from the ground and look for leaks in the attic to get a quick assessment. 

Do-It-Yourself Roof Inspections

A professional is better at seeing the condition of your roof in all areas than you as the homeowner. However, you should keep a good eye on the roof during the year because there are things you can see, without using a ladder, that indicate problem areas.

Some subtle damages you can see are:

  • Loose shingles
  • Loose, missing, or corroded roof flashing
  • Nail pops
  • Improper air conditioning installation
  • Proper ventilation for the roof to breathe
  • Valleys near vent pipes, clogged drains, or separations in flashing that cause water to pool

Professional Roof Inspections

A professional roofing contractor performs a comprehensive roof inspection. They will look for leaks, unusual wear and tear, damage caused by windblown debris, organic growth issues, and problems that have occurred during shingle installation or repairs. There are four aspects to a roof inspection--structure, materials, interiors, and workmanship.

Roofer performing roof inspection in New Jersey

Structural Inspection

With a structural inspection, the inspector checks for uneven roof planes and signs of sagging as well as examining the condition of the soffit, fascia, and gutter system. The area around the chimneys is important when assessing the condition of the roof. Chimneys are inspected for cracks, crumbling, and state of chimney caps. Any of these issues can be factors in a roof developing areas of leaks. The venting in the attic is another important area on the roof. Improper venting can lead to heat and moisture buildup that reduces the life of your roof and increases the risk of ice dams forming at the edge of the roof.

Material Inspection

The professional inspector looks for common signs of roof damage, such as loose, damaged, missing, or curling shingles, stains, rust, moss, and missing flashing or fasteners. Aggregate from shingles can come loose and coagulate in roof valleys and on the ground at the bottom of gutter downspouts. This can indicate that the roof is near the end of its useful life. During the material part of the inspection, the inspector also checks the rubber boots and seals around the vent pipes to see if there are gaps or disintegration.

Interior Inspection

The inspector checks inside your home for indications there are leaks. Interior ceilings, the attic, and interior walls are some of the places that show water damage, stains, mold, rot, and other signs that water is coming into your house.

Workmanship Inspection

A good thorough inspection includes examining your roof for problems in workmanship that could lead to leaks in the future. Such items as incorrect flashing around roof penetrations like vent pipes, skylights, and chimneys are checked.

When to Schedule a Roof Inspection

These are the times when you should schedule a roof inspection.

Routine Maintenance

You should get your roof inspected annually in order to know the state of the roof. A perfect time of the year to get your roof inspected is in the fall before the cold harsh weather of winter arrives. If you need to have roof repairs or a new roof installed, it's best not to do so in the cold weather. Frigid temperatures can impair the success of a new roof installation or repairs because new shingles can't seal down properly when it is too cold. Additionally, performing roof work when it is icy has the potential for accidents. This is all to say that you should inspect the roof early in the fall so that any work that is needed will be done before the bad weather sets in.

After Extreme Weather Events

You should also have your roof inspected after significant weather events, like a hailstorm, in order to assess whether there has been damage. Even something as common as ice dams can cause significant issues. To prolong the life of your roof, anytime there is a strong wind, sleet, hail, or a major snowstorm, you should set up an appointment with a roof inspector. 

When Buying or Selling a Property

When you are either buying or selling a property, you need to have the roof inspected. If you are selling your home, you should be aware of any areas of the roof that need to be repaired. You will need to disclose this information to potential buyers and decide whether you will repair/replace the roof or mark down the price and leave it to the purchaser to repair. If you are buying a house, you will need to know the state of the roof. If the roof needs to be repaired or replaced, you will want to factor that into your decision to buy and in your negotiations.

Warranty Requirements

After you have a new roof installed, most contractors give you the manufacturer's warranty. In our case, we provide one of the highest-regarded warranties available, the Owens Corning Platinum warranty. A warranty will have limits and require you to take care of your roof including having it inspected on a regular basis. As the property owner, the responsibility is yours to maintain the roof by getting it inspected, cleaned, and taking care of minor repairs so as to keep your warranty in good standing.

The Roof Inspection Process

Your professional roof inspection will show many details of the roof. Potential places that are leaking, have damaged or missing shingles, structural issues, and inadequate ventilation will be found.

Pre-Inspection Preparation

The main thing you can do to prepare for your roof to be inspected is to clear the debris from your roof. This includes leaves, branches, and anything that may block the inspector's view. If you have a pool close to the house, cover it so no debris falls into it during the inspection. Make sure your pets are out of the way and safe. Remove any obstacles such as vehicles as well as lawn and deck furniture that may hinder access to the roof. You may also consider having gutters and downspouts cleaned before the roof is inspected. This allows the inspector an easier view of the gutters to assess their condition.

Inspection of Exterior Components

During a professional roof inspection, you can expect to have these items thoroughly checked.

Shingle Roofs

There are a few common problems that the professional roof inspector will be looking for when checking the exterior of the roof.

With a shingle roof, the inspector will be looking for:

  • Signs of water damage - Water damage can be caused by water unable to drain properly because of clogged gutters, or flashing that either has not been installed correctly or is damaged.
  • Mold - When you have excessive water damage on the roof, it is easy for mold to start to grow around the chimney. This is also scrutinized during the interior inspection.
  • Shingle deterioration - The inspector will look for missing or loose shingles as well as rotting or algae growth on the shingles.
  • Clogged gutters and downspouts - The inspector looks for loose shingle granules in the gutters, which is a sign that the shingles are being worn away.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs have problems that differ from shingle roofs. Primarily, the roof inspector is checking a metal roof for leaks and, if they find any, the causes.

A roofing inspector will be looking for:

  • Loose seams - Metal roofs expand and contract depending on the weather. This action can cause screws to loosen and seams to separate over time. These issues must be taken care of so the roof's underlying structure isn't damaged by condensation and/or water accumulation
  • Damaged flashing - Flashing can be damaged and pulled apart, creating gaps that allow water to seep underneath the metal roof. This can also lead to the underside of panels corroding.
  • Rust - When you have water building up it can create rust. Rust is a nemesis for a metal roof because it eats away at the roof, creating holes that allow water to leak into your home or cause roofing panels to literally fall apart.

Inspection of Interior Components

The roof inspection includes going over the interior of the house in addition to the exterior. Inspection of the inside of the house will show whether there are signs of water damage coming from areas of the roof that aren't visible from the outside. Common roofing problems that can be identified during an inspection include the attic ventilation, insulation, and signs of leaks or water damage.

Here are some signs that you have roof damage:

  • Water stains
  • Wood rot
  • Mold
  • Holes in the walls or ceilings
  • Pests in the attic
  • Light coming in from the ceiling

The Benefits of Regular Roof Inspections

There are several reasons why it is important to have your roof inspected regularly.

Extend the Lifespan of Your Roof

By having roof inspections on an annual basis you can lengthen the time your roof lasts. Checking periodically means there is time to make repairs as needed and keep your roof in proper condition. Staying on top (no pun intended) of the state of the roof on your property is the best way you can catch issues before they become serious problems. This contributes to your roof lasting as long as possible.

Save Money on Repairs

A regular roof inspection will catch issues that could get worse over time. Catching a small leak and getting it fixed is much cheaper than replacing rotten studs, or even worse, joists. Hiring a licensed roof inspector can catch all of the areas that may need roof repair, saving money, instead of letting problems get serious before repairing.

Protect Your Property Value

The roof on your house is a big portion of the value of your property. Keeping the roof in good shape helps to protect the value of your house.

Ensure the Safety and Comfort of Your Home

Catching problems with your roof before they become serious safety hazards is a good reason to have regularly scheduled inspections. Small holes in the roof will let in pollen and other allergens from the outdoors as well as possibly lead to mold, causing health concerns for your family.

NJ New roof installation

The Cost of a Roof Inspection

It makes financial sense to add a roof inspection to your home's annual maintenance plan. Typically, the average roof inspection cost is $215, with a range of $120 to $321. The exact cost depends on many factors.

Factors Affecting the Price

These are some of the factors that can affect the price of a roof inspection:

  • Size of the property being inspected - A larger the roof is, the longer it takes to inspect. A professional inspector may need to bring in additional team members to complete the work in a reasonable amount of time. Whether it takes longer or requires more people, a large roof will cost more to inspect than a small one. You could incur either an add-on fee or a higher price overall if the contractor charges by the square foot.
  • Type of inspection being performed - In addition to a regular physical roof inspection, there are different types of inspections that can affect the price of a roof inspection such as infrared and drone. 
  • Complexity of the inspection -  If the roof has a special geometry and many different pitches, the inspection may cost more. 

Average Costs and Range

The average roof size in the U.S. is 1,700 square feet or 17 roofing squares with 1 roofing square equal to 100 square feet. If you use a medium price of $0.13 per square foot with a typical price range between $0.07 and $0.22 per square foot, you get a typical price range of $120 to $320. An extremely low-end cost is $75 and an extremely high-end cost is $700.

Understanding Roof Inspection Reports

Roof inspection reports come in all shapes and sizes. Companies design their own templates so there is a lot of variety in the way they present the findings. Even though the format differs from company to company, there is a commonality in the information and terms. Typically, the roof inspection report begins with some general information that includes information on the homeowner's insurance company and claim (if applicable) and about the roof. The roof's age, manufacturer, slope and height, roof type, and so forth is on the report.

Usually, the report includes replacement estimates for the entire roof even though a roof replacement isn't in the scope of the work involved. Additionally, most reports include specific costs for repairs if the inspector has found damage.

Common Terms and Abbreviations

There are many roofing terms and abbreviations that can make the report difficult to read and understand if you aren't familiar with them.

Here are some of the most common terms:

3-Tab - Standard asphalt-fiberglass shingles that are covered with granules and come in a variety of colors

Architectural Shingle - A premium grade asphalt shingle that is thicker than a 3-tab. Also called dimensional or laminate shingles.

Buckling - When shingles are curving upward from the middle

Curling - The edges of shingles are turning upward

Decking - The wooden cover over the roof beams

Downspout - Connects to the gutter and directs water away from the house's foundation

Fascia - The vertical frieze or band under a roof edge or the outer edge of a cornice

Felt - Sheeting applied under shingles and on top of the decking to repel water and protect the roof in case of shingle loss

Flashing - Material used to cover joints in a roof such as where the roof meets the chimney and where the roof meets at an angle

Hip Cap - A type of shingle made for placement over a roof peak

Membrane - Roofing material made from synthetic rubber, thermoplastic, or modified bitumen

Molding - A decorative architectural feature on the roof

Shake - A wooden shingle

Skylight - A window cut into the roof

Slope - How much a roof's height increases over a given length

Soffit - The underside of an architectural element like an arch, balcony, or overhang

How to Interpret the Findings

When the roof inspector has completed the inspection, he/she will present you with a full report of their findings. They may take you around the house to point out signs of damage they found on the roof. Each issue that the inspector found will be detailed in the report.

Recommended Actions and Repairs

If the inspector finds a place where there is an issue that requires repair or action, it is indicated on the report as a recommendation. When there are a few minor issues that need to be corrected, the report will recommend a repair. When there are many issues that need to be corrected, the report will recommend a replacement.

Roof Repair vs. Roof Replacement

When you have minor or moderate damage to your roof, you may just proceed with roof repairs. But if your roof is old and has a lot of problems, you should go ahead and get a total roof replacement.

Determining the Best Course of Action

Both a new roof and roof repairs are large home improvement projects so you should give your decision serious consideration. You want your roof to be in optimum condition and at the same time get your money's worth. Don't simply repair your roof if there are bigger problems.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

In making a decision to either repair or replace your roof, part of the process will be understanding the cost and the benefit. Is it worth it to spend the money for the benefit you will get? Your professional roof inspector can go through the numbers as well as the pros and cons of each job to help you get a handle on which may be better in your situation.

Factors to Consider

These are factors to consider in making a decision between repairing and replacing:

  • Age of the roof - If your shingle roof is about 20 years old, it is time to look at replacing it. If your roof is made of clay or metal, you will see the deterioration over a longer period of time. 
  • Condition of the roof - The condition of the roof and/or the extent of the damage can determine whether a repair or total roof replacement is in order.
  • Area of the roof affected - If the damage is isolated to a small area, it may be possible to repair it. But if the damage affects more than 30 percent of your roof, it is better to replace the entire roof.
  • Is there a viable insurance claim - If you have a viable insurance claim, the payment may only cover damages that result from acts of nature or sudden accidents. Most homeowners' insurance policies don't pay to repair or replace roofs that have deteriorated due to neglect or natural wear and tear.


A roof inspection should be a regular part of every homeowner's maintenance routine. It's important to catch any issues early on to avoid costly repairs in the future. Contact a professional roofing contractor to schedule an inspection today.

Call Us Today When You Need a Roof Inspection

If you have experienced weather events that may have damaged your roof or your roof is starting to reach the end of its viability, call us to get a roof inspection. Don’t put off finding out the state of your roof! Waiting to get an inspection can cause significant damage to the interior of your house if you have leaks and other problems with the roof. Our professional roof inspectors can provide a thorough review and report so you know what you may be facing. Call us at  (201) 773-0633 or complete the free estimate form to get started.