Common roof problems found in home inspections include a failing structure (sagging), poor installation or workmanship, leaks, missing/damaged shingles, improperly installed flashings, and clogged gutters and downspouts.

It’s not easy to determine the condition of a roof purely by its look, especially for the untrained eye. Here are some tips to help you for your next inspection:

Checking the roof structure (exterior): Provided it’s safe and weather permitting, the home inspector will walk the roof to get a sense of the strength of the roof sheathing. Walking on the roof helps the inspector feel how much flex is in the roof sheathing particularly in key areas such as valleys, around chimneys, and around roof penetrations.

Checking the roof structure (interior): Be on the lookout for signs of leaking in the form of water stains, delaminating wood, and damp smells, all of which can cause roof decay and extensive damage. Also look for water spots on the ceilings that could clue into potential problem areas to focus on inside the attic.

Roof materials: According to NACHI, some of the most common materials used are asphalt, metal, wood, concrete and tile, and single-ply. Take look below to see the common life expectancy for certain roofing materials:

Roofing Material Life Expectancy
Asphalt Roll Roof 10 – 15 Years
Built-Up Roofing (BUR) 20 – 30 Years
3 Tab Asphalt Shingles 15 – 20 Years
Architecture Shingles 25 – 40 Years
Wood Shingles 25 – 30 Years
Wood Shake Shingles 35 – 40 Years
Corrugated Metal Roofing 40 – 80 Years
Standing Seam Metal Roofing 40 – 80 Years
Clay or Cement Tiles 80 – 100 Years
Slate Tiles 80 – 100 Years


Indication of Roof Leaks: Roof leaks often start slowly, which makes them hard to notice as the attic is one of the least frequented rooms in the whole house. Here are some common signs that the roof may be leaking:

  • Missing, cracked or damaged shingles
  • Water spots or water stains in the interior of the roof
  • The presence of mold or mildew
  • The pooling of water on the roof
  • Inadequate flashings/improperly sealed valleys
  • Ice dam build-up
  • Condensation in the attic


To learn about some more common roofing issues, check out the link below.