Well, we had wonderful news last week regarding Barb’s young clients negotiating and getting the home of their dreams. We also had their dream home inspection a few days ago. Wish we could say the results of that home inspection were also a dream.
            Out of all the myriad problems that arise from our home inspections, there are several major issues we don’t want to see. Each one can be a deal killer. All are mostly preventable. The purpose of this article is to help a homeowner / seller correct these items (hopefully affordably) before putting the home on the market. And, by the way, all issues are maintenance items which if watched and remedied regularly will in fact be money saved down the line. This week we will look at our number one concern, the roof, particularly, the tile roof.
            For the most part, Ben and Benita’s (not their real name) home inspection was very good. The number one item that they are dealing with however is the most feared of all inspector findings: roof problems. Like most Arizona homes built in the 80’s and since, the home has tile on the pitched roof portion and composition roofing for the patio roof. This home was built in 1994 and both roofs appear to be original. These owners have owned the home for four years. The reason why this is the numero uno concern is that it is usually the greatest expense to repair or replace.
            Their report stated broken and cracked tiles, plus the roof paper around the edges was brittle, in other words, nearing the end of its useful life, as inspectors are fond of stating. The patio roof was shot. The roof composition material was buckling, cracking and had loss of granules. Evidence of leakage was apparent underneath the patio and at the eaves.
            Some folks mistakenly think that tile roofs don’t require maintenance, but this is absolutely not the case. Tile roofs, whether concrete or clay “can” have a life expectancy of 20-25 years in the desert, but it can also be more or less depending on the maintenance.
We must first understand what the roof is. Think of your roof system like clothing. The tile is the outer garb, which protects the felt paper (the real roof) underneath. Tile sheds water and helps protect the felt from sun exposure, plus it looks nice. Regular inspections and maintenance are critical to maintaining the integrity of the roof. High winds, walking on it incorrectly, foliage build-up (which can damn up the water runoff) and yes, even golf balls can crack, break, or displace the tiles. When tiles are displaced, you lose that UV protection which will expedite felt paper deterioration, which leads to roof disintegration and before you know it, rain water has found an opening inside your dream home.
The tiles themselves, especially if concrete, can last for many years, but it’s the replacement of paper under a tile roof that can get pricey, because you have to first remove all the tile, repair or replace damaged wood or other sheathing, put on the paper, then put the tiles back on. Not cheap. Many thousands.
It’s wise to have a roofer, or handyman knowledgeable about roofs, or even yourself (if you know what to look for) perform an annual inspection, to see if any tiles have shifted, cracked or broke and to clear away excessive foliage, such as pine needles which can prevent rain water from shedding off the roof. I recommend a licensed, bonded, insured roofing contractor to replace or repair. Don’t like to walk on roofs? That’s good, you shouldn’t. You can, however take binoculars to view the tiles from a safe distance. If this is done annually, or after a windstorm, and your roofer can rectify any problems soon thereafter, your roof will maintain its integrity. Then, when you have that home inspection, the report should encourage a buyer, rather than having them cancel the deal, or negotiate a large credit off your bottom line towards replacement.
There are other types of roofs that deserve mention such as composition style for sloped roofs, and flat roofs, such as foam or “built-up” roofs. We’ll talk about those down the road.