Roof Certifications and Roof Inspections
How Roof Certifications Can Help to Sell Homes
Roof certifications are not stipulated in all purchase contracts. Interesting story, many years ago, when I stopped by a home to supervise the placement of signage for a listing in the Sacramento neighborhood of Land Park, I looked up to catch a neighbor, this little old lady, dashing across the street. She was screaming and frantically flailing her arms. She demanded, "How can you sell this house without a new roof!"
The question and attitude struck me as odd. Because Sacramento city regulations do not require that sellers replace failing roofs. Some cities have Truth-in-Housing guidelines and regulations governing repairs before resale, but Sacramento is not one of them. Besides, it was a seller's market. It could be raining directly into the living room through a hole in the roof the size of a basketball hoop, and home buyers in seller's markets wouldn't much blink an eye.
Whether you obtain a roof certification tends to depend on the type of real estate market present at the moment. Market fluctuations can change, and often in seller's markets, a roof certification is not a buyer demand. In a buyer's market, though, it might be.
What is a Roof Certification?
Roof certifications are separate from a home inspection. Home inspectors, for the most part, do not perform thorough roof inspections. Instead, in many locales, roofing inspectors climb up on the roof and issue reports on:
- Possible movement
- Condition of roofing materials
- Ridges, caps and drip edges
- Soundness of drains, downspouts, and gutters
- Flashing around roof pipes, chimneys, vents, valleys and mounting of HVAC units
If the roof does not require repairs, the roofing company will then estimate the remaining years of life for a roof and certify its inspection. The certification is good for two to five years, depending on local custom.
If the roof requires repairs, after the repairs are performed, the roofing company will then issue the roof certification.
TIP: You might want to make sure the company will still be in business during the term of your roof warranty.
Factors Influencing Roof Inspections and Certifications
Roof inspectors will take into consideration the following:
- Type of RoofCommon types of roofing materials are:
- Composition shingle
- Wood shake
- Clay or concrete tile
- Metal or steel
- Tar and gravel
- Age of RoofRoofing companies say that wood shakes often require more repairs if they are older than 10 years. Conversely, tile roofs can last 50 years, as long as nobody has walked on them -- because weight in the wrong places causes cracking and breakage. Composition shingle roofs are often warranted for 20 to 40 years, depending on the quality of the material.
- Roof PitchThe steepness of a roof is known as its pitch. The higher the number, the steeper the roof. To calculate pitch, measure one horizontal foot of the roof, following a level horizontal line. Now measure how much higher the roof is at that point, known as the rise of the roof, along a vertical line. If the roof rises 4 inches per foot, the pitch is 4; if it rises 12 inches per foot — a 45 degree angle — the pitch is 12, generally the steepest you’ll find.
- TIP: Note that many roofing contractors will charge extra to work on a roof with an extreme pitch.
- Number of LayersSome cities have enacted ordinances regarding the number of layers that are allowed on a roof before a complete tear-off will be necessary. In California, it's common to see composition shingles placed directly over wood shake.
- Previous Roof RepairsAlthough not all states require seller disclosures, if a seller does not disclose previous roof repairs, many roofing companies will refuse to honor the roof certification. Roof inspectors will want to examine a previous repair to make sure it was done correctly and won't cause future problems.
Exclusions to Roof Certifications
Most roofing companies will not honor claims due to natural disasters or severe weather -- and these conditions include high winds -- in addition to damage caused by foot traffic or improperly installed skylights or solar panels. Natural disasters, however, are generally covered by either a homeowner's insurance policy or a flood insurance policy.
How Roof Certifications Help to Sell Homes
The basic purposes of a roof certification are to:
- Inform a buyer about the condition of the roof
- Disclose its remaining life expectancy
- Make repairs, if necessary
Many sellers are advised to provide a roof certification to the buyer as part of the sales process. Roof certifications give buyers peace of mind. If sellers refuse to provide a roof certification, and the roof is older, home buyers might decide to pay for their own inspection and make it a contingency of the contract.
In closing, some controversy exists over whether a roofing inspector should also be allowed to perform roofing repairs because of possible conflicts of interest. If a seller is unhappy with the recommendations made by a roofing contractor, I would advise the seller to obtain a second inspection and submit both inspections to the buyer.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.