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Our 2024 Guide to Roof Inspections

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Default Author Icon Written by Angela Bunt Updated 03/22/2024

A roof inspection is a vital part of home maintenance, whether you’re buying a new home or performing preventative maintenance. Regular inspections can extend the lifespan of your roof, enhance the curb appeal and value of your home, and help you avoid the cost of repairing a roof or roof replacement expenses. Below, we’ll cover the ins and outs of roof inspection and help you prepare to hire a professional inspector.

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Roof shingles with garret house on top of the house among a lot of trees. dark asphalt tiles on the roof background
Asphalt Shingle Roofing

The cost of asphalt shingle roof installation can range from $5,994–$9,791.

Man working on a flat roof
Roof Repair

Typically, the average cost of roof repair ranges between $379 and $1,755

House With a Metal Roof
Metal Roofing

A new metal roof costs an average of $9,150–$16,743.


What Is a Roof Inspection?

A roof inspection is an examination of your roofing system by a licensed inspector. The inspector will check all components of your roof to determine whether it requires fixing or if you need a new roof.

Roofs require regular maintenance and repairs to function properly. A thorough roof inspection can help you catch problems early, when they are easier and less expensive to fix. If you’re buying or selling a home, an inspection is a helpful tool to determine a roof’s quality and projected lifespan.

What Does a Roof Inspector Look For?

A roof inspector will examine every component of your roof, including its structure and materials and its condition from your home’s interior. Here are the major components of an inspection:
Interior inspection: Roof damage isn’t always visible from the outside. The inspector will check your home’s ceilings, attic, and interior walls for water staining, holes, mold, rot, and pests in the attic.
Material inspection: The inspector will look for signs of damage in the roof covering—such as your shingles, metal panels, or tilesand any components underneath that material. The inspector will also examine your roof for staining, moss, water damage, and missing shingles.
Structural inspection: An inspector will look for signs of sagging and uneven planes. They will also examine the conditions of the soffit, fascia, attic ventilation, and gutter systems. A structural inspection will include checks for visible signs of damage in chimneys or skylights.

When Should You Have Your Roof Inspected?

As a general rule, experts recommend having your roof inspected once a year. If you are comfortable with ladders and can safely access your roof, you can perform routine visual inspections yourself. Ideally, this should happen twice a year, or after major weather events.

However, you should not rely solely on DIY roof inspections. The age of your roof, visible damage, and weather conditions in your area should inform how frequently you schedule professional roof inspections. If you have an older roof or serious concerns, you should have a professional look at it sooner rather than later.

Specific Situations

Beyond the general once-a-year recommendation, certain situations may require an immediate roof inspection:

  • Older roofs: Roofs nearing the end of their lifespan (typically 20-30 years) may need more frequent inspections. How long a roof will last depends largely on the type of roof and the local climate.
  • Weather events: High winds, hail, or heavy snowfall can damage your roof, so it’s a good idea to get an inspection after any significant weather event.
  • Insurance claim: Your insurance company may require a roof inspection if you file a claim due to storm damage, in which case the insurance company will likely send their own roofing professional. Approximately 30% of insurance claims are due to leaking roofs and water intrusion, according to the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association (NRCIA).
  • Signs of damage: Every property should undergo a roof inspection if there’s an active leak. Leaking roofs can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to any home’s interior or structure. Common signs of roof damage include dripping sounds, ice dams, mold or mildew, pooling water, water stains on the ceiling or walls, and missing, loose, or damaged roofing materials.
  • Home sale or purchase: Every property in escrow should undergo a roof inspection for disclosure purposes. More than 85% of homes are sold with roof damage or leaks, according to the NRCIA.

Additional Considerations

Several factors affect how often you should schedule routine roof inspections:

  • Type of roof: Different materials have different lifespans and require varying inspection frequencies. For example, metal roofs might need less frequent inspections than asphalt shingles.
  • Local climate: Harsh weather conditions like high winds, heavy snow, or constant sun exposure necessitate more frequent inspections.
  • Peace of mind: If you value knowing the condition of your roof and catching potential issues early, consider more frequent inspections.

Remember, skipping routine roofs checks can be an expensive gamble. The number one cause of roof issues is inadequate or deferred roof maintenance, according to the NRCIA. The longer it takes you to notice a problem, the more you will pay to fix it.

When we interviewed Jim Fusion, a professional home inspector with 21st Century Home Inspections, he emphasized the importance of regular roof checks: “You’d be surprised the number of people that don’t really look up, or they don’t walk around their house and just take a quick look … once or twice a year [to] see if they’ve got any wind damage.” Serious roof damage, he explained, can turn into a roof leak, which will cause water stains and other damage to your home’s interior.

The average roof inspection costs $331*, with most homeowners spending somewhere between $125 and $571. Cost varies depending on the size of your roof, roofing material, your roof’s slope, and accessibility. The extent of the damage and the inspector’s methods may also add to the overall cost.

*Cost data in this article was sourced from contractor estimates used by Angi and Fixr.

Some inspectors charge more to examine larger roofs or charge you per square foot. Certain roofing materials, such as slate or tile, require more expertise to inspect, which may increase an inspection’s cost.

Labor rates and overhead costs for inspectors vary depending on your location. High-demand areas might have higher inspection fees due to competition.

The slope and layout of your roof also affect the cost. Steeper pitches require additional safety precautions and equipment, potentially increasing the cost.

A basic visual inspection of the attic and walk-on inspection of the roof will cost more than a drone inspection or thermal imaging (more on that below). The scope of the inspection depends largely on the age and condition of your roof and the nature of your concerns. Some inspectors offer detailed reports with photos and recommendations, which adds to the cost.

A standard physical inspection costs an average of $331, which typically includes a certified pro using a ladder and examining the roof’s condition and materials in person. However, your total cost can very greatly. If your roof is difficult to access, you may need to pay around $400 for a drone roof inspection.

The most expensive type of inspection is an infrared roof inspection, which costs between $400 and $600. Infrared technology allows inspectors to look for damage that’s invisible to the naked eye.

How To Hire a Pro

We always recommend hiring a certified professional to perform your roof inspection. Follow these steps to find the right person for the job:

  1. Gather recommendations and check online reviews. Ask friends, family, neighbors, or your local building department for recommendations on reputable inspectors. Then look for reviews on websites like Google or the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Pay attention to both positive and negative reviews and how the inspector responds to negative feedback.
  2. Ask questions and verify credentials. Ask each inspector about their experience, qualifications, insurance coverage, inspection process, and what their reports typically include. Make sure they are licensed and insured in your state. You can usually check this information on the state licensing board website or by asking the inspector directly.
  3. Request and compare quotes. Talk to each inspector on the phone to discuss your specific needs and concerns. Get quotes from at least three different inspectors to compare prices and services offered. Before signing any contract, make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions, including the scope of the inspection, the cost, and the payment schedule.

Consider your budget, but remember that the cheapest option isn’t always the best. Choose an inspector who is qualified and experienced, even if it costs a bit more.

Be wary of inspectors who offer to do repairs themselves. It’s best to get separate bids from qualified contractors for any repairs needed.

What To Expect From the Roof Inspection Process

Clear your schedule and clean any debris and obstructions in the way of the roof before the inspector arrives. The instructor will look for leaks, wear and tear, damage, and other problems that could affect the structural integrity and condition of your roof. Here’s a step-by-step process:
The inspector will examine the roof covering, gutters, downspouts, and other penetrations from the ground level. They’ll check for sagging or unevenness in the roof’s structure and possible damage to the decking.
The inspector will use a ladder to get a closer look at the roof’s structural support and the condition of the roofing material. They’ll look for visible signs of damage, missing or cracked shingles, and damaged gutters.
The inspector will check chimneys, vents, and skylights for leaks, cracks, or deterioration.
The inspector will go inside the home to inspect the roof’s interior and look for signs of damage on your home’s interior ceiling and walls.

The entire inspection can take anywhere from 45 minutes to four hours, depending on the size of your roof, accessibility, roofing materials, and whether the inspector needs to check the attic. Inspectors will typically send you a full report of their findings, which may include a summary of what was checked and found, including pictures and recommended repairs.

Our Conclusion

We recommend scheduling a professional roof inspection once a year as part of your regular preventative maintenance. Check your roof after big storms for visible damage, too. If you notice signs of damage, schedule a roof inspection as soon as possible.

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FAQ About Roof Inspections

How do I know if my roof needs replacing?

Leaking, water damage, or a sagging roof are the most obvious signs that you need a roof replacement. The quality of roofing shingles may play an important role in how soon your roof must be fixed or replaced.

How long does a roof inspection take?

The time it takes to properly inspect a roof depends on the size of your roof, your roof’s accessibility, roofing materials, and whether an inspector needs to check the attic. A standard inspection can take as little as 45 minutes. Large, complex roofs that have suffered severe damage could take as long as four hours to check.

Will my insurance cover roof damage?

Insurance may cover roof damage if the damage was caused by a covered peril. Check with your homeowner’s insurance provider to verify what’s covered.

What is the difference between a roof inspection and a home inspection?

The difference between a roof inspection and a home inspection lies in the breadth and depth. A home inspection comprehensively examines the entire house, including the roof, foundation, electrical, plumbing, and more. A roof inspection focuses solely on the roof but provides a more detailed assessment.

How can I prevent roof damage?

You can prevent roof damage by getting regular inspections and watching out for potential problems. Trim trees back, remove snow buildup, keep your gutters clean, and clear your roof of debris.

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