Well Maintained 20 Year Old Home

I was called to do a home inspection in Hidden Valley Lake.  The buyers were crazy about this house and rightfully so.  The original owners were up in years and needed a smaller less demanding residence and were moving into an apartment.  The house was 20 years old, neutral tile in good condition were in the kitchen and all three bathrooms.  Carpeting was freshly shampooed and showed no signs of wear.  Hardwood flooring had been cared for and the white walls had no marks or discoloring.

What could possibly be an issue?  The roof.  Roofing material typically has a life expectancy of 18 years.  So far, so good, but what could they expect?  Perhaps another year or two.  But maybe not.  Accessing and walking the roof are the most dangerous parts of the home inspection but imperative. 

The vast majority of our residential roofs are designed with a pitch because they are actually not waterproof systems. Roof pitch allows the roof to shed water and dictates what types of materials are appropriate and how they should be installed. Low pitch roofs require different installation techniques while very low to no pitch roofs will need waterproof materials. Low pitch roofs on mobile/manufactured homes for example should be installed much differently than conventionally pitched stick built homes.  


So a consideration has to be whether to re-roof or recover. Re-roofing means that all the existing layers of roofing material will be torn off and the roofing material replaced. Re-covering means that a second or possibly third layer will be installed over the original roof surface. Because of load bearing considerations, generally, no more than two layers of composition roofing are allowed on stick built homes and never more than one on a manufactured home. In cases where home inspections reveal multiple layers of roofing material, the nails are rarely secured into the wood decking making the roofing material very susceptible to being blown off in high winds. Financially, the initial cost of re-covering is less expensive as there are no appreciable waste disposal fees, but it is a trade off over the long haul as life expectancy can be reduced 20% or more depending on the condition of the roofing beneath and who you speak to.