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What Should I Know About Getting a Roof Inspection?

February 5th, 2024 | 8 min. read

What Should I Know About Getting a Roof Inspection?

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Most homeowners put off a roof inspection until they notice a problem. And because of the distrust in the roofing industry, homeowners are immediately on guard because they’re expecting a salesman to sell them a new roof. 

However, you’ll never know the state of your roof until after it's inspected. In fact, there are multiple reasons to get a roof inspection before there’s a noticeable problem. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided homeowners with transparent roofing information to help them navigate a hard-to-trust industry. Because of this, I’ll break down everything you need to know about getting a roof inspection. 

This article answers the following questions about getting a roof inspection:

  • What is a roof inspection?
  • How does a roofer inspect a roof?
  • How long does a roof inspection take?
  • How much does a roof inspection cost?
  • How often should you get a roof inspection?

What is a roof inspection? 

A roof inspection is simply checking the overall condition of your roof. Its ultimate purpose is to determine if your roof is currently performing as expected, and if it isn’t, a roofer can make the appropriate recommendations. 

The two main reasons homeowners get roof inspections are to learn how much life their roof has left to determine if it’s time for a replacement or if they have a roof leak. However, your roof will also get inspected if a storm damages it, if you’re selling/buying a home, and during routine maintenance

How does a roofer inspect a roof?

As I just said, a roof inspection checks the entire condition and functionality of your roof. But what exactly is a roofer inspecting once they're up there?

Below are the things that should be looked at when getting a roof inspection, no matter the reason. 

The number of layers

The first thing a roofer checks during a roof inspection is the number of layers your roof currently has. If you need a new roof, they do this to determine how many extra layers need to be torn off while writing your roof replacement estimate

checking the number of layers currently on a roof during a roof inspection

If it’s for a roof leak, it helps when tracking down the source for repairs. While there are still roofs with 3 or 4 layers, you’re only allowed to have 2 layers max for fire safety reasons.

Drip edge

While checking the number of layers, the roofer will also make sure your roof has drip edge. Drip edge is installed at the edges of the roof to keep water away from your fascia and from getting underneath your roofing components. 

checking for drip edge during a roof inspection

It’s such an important component that building codes actually require installing drip edge, and it must be done correctly. This means your home will not be up to code without it, which makes passing a home inspection much harder. 

The condition of your roof’s decking

Roof decking is the wooden foundation of your entire roof system. Once they get on your roof, the roofer will test if it’s spongy or solid underneath their feet. 

rotten roof decking caused by roof leak(Rotten decking caused by roof leak)

Just know it’s impossible to check the exact condition during a roof inspection without tearing off shingles. However, compromised decking must be replaced during the roof replacement process before installation begins. 

Roofing material

The main that gets checked during a roof inspection is the roofing material, which makes up the bulk of your roof. They’ll inspect the condition to determine how much time your roof has left and look for any potential problems that need to be addressed. 

Roof penetrations, chimneys, and skylights

A roof penetration is anything sticking out through your roof, such as chimneys, gas vents, vent pipes, roof vents, etc. Because they come through your roof, they must be sealed to prevent water from getting into your home. 

inspecting a plumbing vent during a roof inspection

All penetrations and, if you have them, a chimney and skylights are inspected during a roof inspection to ensure they're fully sealed and leak-free. They'll also check the condition of the mortar and chimney cap on chimneys.

Roof flashing

Roof flashing is a crucial metal component installed in areas that butt up against something, such as a wall, chimney, or open valleys, to prevent leaks. It’s one of the most important things a roofer checks during a roof inspection.

different areas of roof flashing inspected during a roof inspection

They’ll make sure it isn’t rusted and that the integrity of the metal is holding strong. Just know that your roof flashing will be replaced when getting a new roof.

Gutters and downspouts

While not technically on your roof, the gutters and downspouts will get checked during a roof inspection. They’ll look for cracks or open seams and any blockages that hinder drainage.

They’ll also look for standing water to determine if the gutters are tilted in the wrong direction. 

Your attic space

Your attic ventilation system is crucial to both your roof and home. Without proper attic ventilation, trapped air dramatically shortens your roof’s life span and increases your home’s energy bill.

attic space inspected for proper ventilation during a roof inspection

During a roof inspection, a roofer will get in your attic to ensure it’s properly ventilated. They’ll also check the bottom of your roof decking for discoloration to help determine if there’s excess moisture or even a leak coming through.

How long does a roof inspection take?

Depending on the roof’s size, complexity, and accessibility, a roof inspection usually takes 1-2 hours to complete. However, the reason you’re getting the roof inspection has a big impact on how long it takes. 

An inspection for a roof replacement estimate should take 1-2 hours, but it could take longer if the roof is complex and multiple stories off the ground. A storm damage roof inspection usually takes longer because they’re documenting the roof and collateral damage around your property. 

Inspections for roof leaks vary because they have to inspect, track, and repair the issue (if it’s not too bad). No matter the reason, you’ll find that 1-2 hours is pretty standard for a roof inspection.

How much does a roof inspection cost?

Generally, you can expect a regular roof inspection to cost around $120 to $400. Every roofing company has different pricing, but I think you’ll find that most general roof inspections fit in the numbers above. 

But just like how long it takes, most roofing companies handle inspection fees differently based on the reason. For a repair, some companies charge a service fee for an inspection to track the roof leak, and then you’ll pay what it costs for repairs on top of it. 

If you need replacement, many companies offer free roof inspections for a quote because there’s a potential for a sale. Other than that, you’ll end up paying somewhere in the price range above for a roof inspection. 

How often should you get a roof inspection?

Outside of needing a new roof or roof repairs, I always recommend a yearly roof inspection. Getting a roof inspected twice a year to keep up with the changing seasons is an even better idea.  

You may think: “Of course, a roofing company recommends yearly inspections.” However, routine roof inspections are for your wallet’s benefit and the roof’s longevity. 

You invested a lot of money in your roof, so it’s a good idea to take care of it and keep it running smoothly during its life. 

How do you find a reputable roofer for an honest roof inspection?

After reading this article, you know what to expect when getting a roof inspection, from what it is to how to do it to how much it costs. Now, you’re ready to find a roofer for a roof inspection. 

But before starting your search, you have to trust the company will provide an honest inspection. Unfortunately, this is harder than you think with bad roofers trying to sell roofs no matter what they find. 

That’s why I wrote another article with the tips homeowners need to find a great roofer they can trust for honest inspections, advice, and workmanship. 

Check out 7 Tips to Find a Great Roofing Contractor to find a great roofing company in your area.

roofing contractor questions checklist


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