How to Check the Roof Before Buying a House

Of all the things to think about when buying a property in Leeds, the condition of the roof may not be something most homeowners consider. However, taking on a property which has a faulty roof may mean expensive repairs or even the need to invest in a full roof replacement.

Below, we look at how to check the condition of the roof before you buy a property.

The importance of checking the roof before buying a house

From the location and local schools to the number of bedrooms and the outside space, there is a long checklist that most homeowners have when they look for a suitable property. Alongside all the other considerations, the condition of the roof should be something you add to the list.

After all, buying a house is a significant financial obligation. That’s why it’s imperative to do all you can to ensure you are aware of the property’s true condition, so you can move ahead with confidence.

What should you look for when checking a roof?

You can begin to ascertain the condition of the roof even before you book a viewing of the property with the agent, simply by looking at it from the outside (without trespassing on the property or its land). Check for things like missing tiles or signs that the roof has not been adequately maintained, such as debris or moss in and around the gutters.

Similarly, look for damage to flashing (the seal between the roof tiles and brickwork) or the fascia boards. If possible, visit the property when it’s raining (which won’t be difficult in Leeds!) to see if there are obvious issues with the drainage, such as leaking pipes or suspicious-looking dripping.

You can then use the arranged property viewing to look for internal signs of damage. Depending on access, you may be able to view the roof space. However, the owner and estate agent may be reluctant for you to climb a ladder to check the loft, from a health and safety perspective.

If you are able to safely access the space, look for gaps or holes in the roof where daylight is coming through or for signs of damp or a musty smell. Take a torch or use the one on your phone to get a better look.

A homeowner may take care of their residence but neglect secondary structures. So, if there are any garages or other brick structures included in the purchase, look at their roofs to check for any obvious damage, such as a sagging flat roof.

While you should use the viewing to build up a layperson’s overview of the condition of the roof, do not take risks. We strongly advise against untrained individuals attempting to access a roof from the outside, as this can be highly dangerous.

Use the viewing to ask the seller or agent questions about the roof, such as its age. Even the most well-maintained roofs have a lifespan (generally 25 years). Also, find out if the roof has been repaired or is under guarantee.

Does a home survey involve checking the roof?

Mortgage companies conduct a survey on a property before agreeing a home loan. These surveys are mostly to ensure the property’s selling price reflects its condition. In addition, many homebuyers choose to have their own survey conducted on a property they are buying.

A survey will flag general issues related to the structural integrity of the property, including subsidence, unstable walls, a leaking roof or an unsafe chimney chute. The surveyor will also look at the gutters and rainwater pipes. However, a home survey is not comprehensive.

One of the two main accrediting bodies, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides three types of home survey. When it comes to roofs:

  • Level 1 surveys simply involve the surveyor looking at the roof from outside with a pair of binoculars as well as internally via the loft access hatch without entering the roof space.
  • Level 2 surveys involve the surveyor entering the roof space to conduct a basic visual inspection. This level of survey is also known as a HomeBuyer Report and is the one typically requested by residential buyers.
  • Level 3 surveys are more in-depth, with the surveyor closely inspecting the roof from the inside, including moving sections of insulation to check the condition underneath.

RICS surveyors will not enter a roof space which is higher than 3 metres (9.8 ft) from floor level and none of the surveys involve the surveyor going up onto the roof. Therefore, it is advisable to get a dedicated roof inspection carried out to detect any problems which would fall outside the scope of the home survey.

What should you do if a problem is discovered?

If you do uncover a problem with the roof, you have several options:

  1. Negotiate a price reduction: If the seller is keen to secure a buyer, there might be scope to negotiate a reduction in the asking price, which takes into account the cost of repairs.
  2. Add conditions: If you wish to offer on the property, you can add a caveat that certain repairs are undertaken by an accredited roofing company as a condition of that offer.
  3. Reconsider the purchase: If the problem is discovered before or during the property buying process, you may feel your best option is to walk away or withdraw your offer.

The conveyancing (buying) process involves your solicitor submitting queries to the seller’s solicitor to clarify issues of concern and requires the seller to send copies of any guarantees. So, if you choose to go ahead with the purchase, you can ask your solicitor to raise specific queries relating to the roof, including requesting documentation on repairs or roof replacements undertaken by the current or previous owners.

While a house purchase is not binding until the exchange of contracts, pulling out of the transaction is not to be taken lightly. So, it is always advisable to seek professional advice if you have any concerns about the condition of the property you are (or are thinking of) buying, as early in the process as possible. This way, you can avoid unnecessary delay and expenditure, or disrupting the property-buying chain.

Enjoy peace of mind with DPR Roofing

Buying a property is stressful enough without worrying about taking on expensive roof repairs or a full roof replacement. Fortunately, whatever your roofing concerns are in Leeds, DPR Roofing can help. Contact us today on 0113 335 0043 to discuss your needs or to learn more about our services, including roof inspections, maintenance and repairs.