What I'm Seeing Now

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One Way To Tell An Aging Roof

As roof's age, the shingles begin to shed the granules that make up the color and provide UV protection.  This shedding contributes toward the demise of the roof as the shingles dry out, curl, cup, crack and break.  As they get drier, the shingles become more wind vulnerable and blow off more easily.  Often, when that happens, they do not blow off singly but en masse, a little neighborhood of shingles all blowing away at the same time.  This vulnerability exists on the windward and leeward side of the roof.  These granules are important!  But they come off.

Such was the case on a recent inspection.  Each downspout revealed severe granular discharge where they eliminated gutter water.

This house is 17 years old.  I do not know if the shingles used were intended to last 15 or 20 years, but it is fair to say this roof is very stressed.  It might survive a while longer, but likely not much.

Home inspectors are not in the game of predicting how long a roof will last.  Could they do that accurately I guarantee we inspectors would not inspect homes but roofs alone!  That little prediction key would be golden!  We could canvas a neighborhood with fliers telling people we could predict their roof's expected life span and the money dam would burst!

The sellers said that what you see on the ground in this photo is because they recently cleaned the gutters.  Well, yeah!  Of course!  Where would the granules go first?

Another key I saw:  all but one of the other houses in the neighborhood had new roofs (I routinely look at the other houses in a neighborhood to see how my subject house stacks up).  There is a reason for that!  People generally don't go about replacing things unless they need to be.   Roofs are expensive and most don't have  the discretionary money to replace them proactively.

My recommendation:  glance at the roof, and at the bottoms of the downspouts.  Look for signs of roof distress.  See if you can calculate the age of the house, and perhaps the roof.  Ask the sellers!   Look also at the neighborhood to see what the other houses have replaced.  That makes for great comparison.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 23 commentsJay Markanich • June 16 2010 07:32AM

Comments

Good tips and good advice for buyers. Thank you for the post.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 8 years ago

Oh....and those currrrrly shingles....missing shingles....complete the picture...call the roofer....in Wisconsin it's shingle sealing season...say that fast 3 times....but after this past year, you know all about snow and when you can't very well put on a new roof...have a great day.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 8 years ago

Nice clue as to roof condition. I will definitely use that as I show properties - especially after a rain.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Thanks Gita.  There are many little tricks home inspectors have.

S&D - I don't know what roof sealing is, but it sure sounds interesting!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Gary, after a rain AND a hail storm.  This technique is what a lot of insurance companies look for after hail storms to see if there was damage.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks!  These are truly some great observations.

David calls it "shingle sealing season"...I learned that in Wisconsin there were only two seasons....winter and road construction ... nice to know that there is a third season!

 

St Louis Painter

Posted by Sonny Landau (St Louis Home Improvement and Painting Companies) over 8 years ago

Jay, we can read your posts and then look very smart to our buyers!  Thanks for sharing this little trade secret.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Thanks for the roof tips. It explains a lot..of course the seller thinks its fine and the buyer wants a new one....

Posted by Pat O'Reilly (RE/MAX..214-289-6176 Irving and all of Dallas Fort Worth) over 8 years ago

Great tips Jay -

I tell every client to invest in binoculars if they don't already own a pair.  I then recommend using the binoculars to scan the roof, chimney, skylights, etc. on a regular basis, especially after a strong storm.....its amazing the things you can see without physically standing on the roof.

 

Have a great day!

Posted by Scott Coslett (National Property Inspections) over 8 years ago

Sonny - I make that little observation on every inspection.

Pat - I am glad that you are glad.  And you don't need me to look smart, that is for sure.

Pat O - the seller is in CA and you are right.  When the buyer's agent called the seller's agent to mention the roof, she immediately called the sellers in CA who said not to worry, it was just because they cleaned the gutters!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Scott - I have 20x binocks, with an image stabilizer.  They work great for inspections and also at Redskin games!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks for the tips especially the gutter spouts.  I will be looking out for this area.

Posted by Gary Pike (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers) over 8 years ago

It is a quick and easy way to get a look at the roof Gary.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks for the tips on identifying trouble spots on the roof. I used to go up on the roof of my summer house twice a year and do a physical inspection as you suggested, especially when I cleaned the gutters and made sure the drains were cleared too.  Great Tips

Posted by David Okada, Service-Beyond Your Expectations (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 8 years ago

David - you are a better man than I!  I never go up on my roof...!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

No doubt, granules in the gutters and on the ground are always a clue to the condition of the roof.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

I love tips from our home inspectors --- thanks!!!

Posted by Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR (Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA) over 8 years ago

Hey Jim!  Where you been boy?  Yes, despite when sellers tell you they are on the ground because the gutters were cleaned!   (;~)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Pam - well, that's part of the job!  Thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

One year, roofers moved up one side of our street and then back down the hill, re-roofing at least one out of every three homes -- an obvious signal to anyone shopping for a home.

Posted by Kate Kate over 8 years ago

Jay,

Yes, the missing granules sure speed the demise of the roof.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Sometimes piles of granules is a clue to recent or frequent pressure washing as well.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Kate - that would be a clue!

Steve - speedy is as speedy does. 

Charlie - I have never seen anyone pressure wash a roof, but they might out there!  I would think that would kill the roof completely washing off all the granules!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

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