Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Unless you’ve worked as a contractor before, you won’t know all the ins and outs of the business. But asking a few targeted questions of a roofing contractor can help you understand what you’re getting -- and put your roofer on notice that you have high standards.
How old is the roof, and what’s it made of?
Depending on how long you’ve owned your home, you might or might not know the roof’s age and composition. That’s something your inspector should be able to tell you.
It’s valuable information because sooner or later, you’ll have to replace your roofing system. How soon you’ll have to do that depends on what kind of roofing materials were used. For standard asphalt roofs, expect a life span of 20 years. Fiber-cement shingles survive 25 years on average. Wood shake roofs hold up for 30 years. Slate, copper, and tile are the most durable surfaces, lasting for 50 years or longer.
What condition is the roofing system in?
However useful for estimating, these durability statistics go out the window once you start looking at a specific roof. Otherwise, you’d never need to get an inspection -- you could just schedule roof replacements every 20, 25, 30, or 50 years.
If you’ve carefully maintained your roof and monitored its status, you’re doing everything you can to ensure your roof’s longevity. But getting a professional’s informed opinion on how well your system is holding up gives you vital updates on your roof’s condition.
Did you see any damage that requires immediate attention?
There are two kinds of issues to keep in mind at an inspection.
The first is the predictable, long-term wear and tear that all roofs exhibit as they age. There’s no defying the gradual weathering of your roof under the constant impact of the elements.
The second is more concerning: acute damage that needs to be repaired as soon as possible to avoid serious damage.
A good inspector like Good Shepherd Roofing will offer you an honest appraisal that distinguishes between long-term attrition that can be addressed in the future and short-term issues that require immediate attention. Be careful here: bad roofing companies may try to pressure you by diagnosing normal malfunctions as emergencies.
Is the ventilation intact?
Water often gets in through ventilation systems and can cause expensive damage. Make sure your inspector takes a look to make sure everything looks healthy.
Were the seams, welding, pitch pans, and drains checked for functionality?
Roofing systems include more than just shingles. In fact, seams and drains may be the most vulnerable parts of your roof. Ask your inspector to verify that these parts remain in working order.