Roof Inspection 101: What Is Included in It?

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Reviewed by Ami Feller
Updated January 3, 2022
Close up of a roof house
Photo: soupstock / Adobe Stock

Get the lowdown on what to expect during a routine roof inspection

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Your roof is the unsung hero of the home—protecting your family from harsh weather, extreme temperatures, and pesky critters. However, to keep your roof in fighting shape, it’s important to perform regular roof inspections. 

Roofing inspections will check for any issues that need repairing, out-of-place items, and whether your roof is withstanding the test of time. But how does this differ from a normal home inspection, and how often do you need to check on your roof? Here’s everything you need to know about roof inspections.

Why Do You Need a Roof Inspection?

You can hire a professional roof inspector to conduct a roof inspection for many different reasons. For instance, you may have noticed a leak, and you want to ensure it isn’t coming from the roof. Or your area may have recently experienced high winds, and you want to check the roof for any debris or damage.

Here’s a quick rundown of why you might need a roof inspection:

  • Annual inspection

  • Noticed leaks coming from the ceiling

  • Experienced a recent storm that included high winds, debris, and heavy rain or snow

  • Preparing your home for hurricane or snow season

  • Looking to sell or refinance your home

  • If you’ve recently purchased a home without a home inspection

  • Your insurance company has requested a roof inspection

How Often Should You Schedule a Roof Inspection?

Ideally, you should schedule a roof inspection at least once a year. It’s best to tackle this task either in the early fall or early spring before the amount of rain and snow starts to pick up. By conducting annual inspections, you can catch roofing problems early and avoid expensive repairs down the road. 

If you’ve recently purchased a home and the last time the roof was inspected was when it was installed, you should schedule a roof inspection, especially if you waived the home inspection during the buying process. After 10 years or more without a proper roof inspection, your roof may be working on borrowed time.

How Much Do Roof Inspections Cost?

On average, roofing inspections cost around $210. However, the price can range anywhere from $75 to $800, depending on the extent of the inspection, the design of your roof, and the type of roofing material.

Physical Roof Inspection

A physical roof inspection will consist of someone climbing onto the roof to perform the inspection. This is the simplest type of roof inspection and it relies mostly on visuals. The average physical roof inspection will cost anywhere from $75 to $200.

Drone Roof Inspection

Homeowners can request a drone roof inspection when there’s too much risk involved with getting onto the roof. This type of inspection typically occurs when the roof is very steep or unwalkable. The drone flies around the exterior of the house, providing videos or pictures.

You can expect to pay around $150 to $400 for a drone roof inspection.

Infrared Roof Inspection

Infrared roof inspections cost more than the typical roof inspection. Using infrared technology, professional inspectors look for any signs of damage that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye, including small cracks and leaks. On average, an infrared roof inspection will cost around $400 to $600.

What’s Included in a Roof Inspection?

A roof inspector will examine every component of a roof, including its structural support, the stability of the roofing material, and if there are any signs of damage throughout the ceiling and walls.

Structural Inspection

The structural inspection will check how well the overall roof system is holding up. This part of the evaluation requires looking for any signs that may point toward a sagging roof, based on how the roof planes are laid out. 

The structural inspection doesn’t focus on finding damaged or missing roofing materials, but instead examines the well-being of the main components of the roofing system. Signs that your roof may be sagging include:

  • Cracked, splintered, or rotted rafters or trusses

  • Sagging ceilings

  • Missing or damaged collar ties

  • Missing or damaged rafter ties

  • Exterior walls that are tilting or leaning

While the inspector is on the roof, they’ll also look at the condition of your soffit, fascia, and gutters. If you have any skylights, chimneys, or vents, they’ll check the grout, seals, and exterior for any signs of damage to these systems.

Material Inspection

The material portion of the roof inspection will focus on the roofing materials, including shingles, metal plates, clay, or even slate shingles. The inspector will examine them for any damages, missing materials, or staining from rust, moss, or water damage. The material inspection also includes checking the flashing underneath the roofing material for any signs of leaks, cracks, or pests.

Interior Inspection

The interior portion of the inspection will tackle any signs of damage to the roof that aren’t visible from the outside. Inspectors will check ceilings, attics, and even walls throughout the inside of the home. The signs will typically include the following:

  • Water stains

  • Wood rot

  • Mold

  • Holes in the walls or ceilings

  • Beams of light coming into the attic from the ceiling

  • Pests in the attic

Home Inspections vs. Roof Inspections

When it comes to comparing home inspections and roof inspections, the two tasks are in two different ballparks, but they can be merged together. Almost all home inspections include a thorough roof inspection, as it is an integral part of the home, but it won’t be as focused as a dedicated roof inspection. 

“A home inspector is more often than not a generalist; while they may note roof issues, a roofing professional will have more insight,” says Ami Feller of Feller Roofing. “Also, unfortunately, some home inspectors never get on the roof and take they bulk of their photos from the ground or from the top of the ladder. If this is the case, you should definitely hire a roofing professional to do an inspection. All three parts of the roof inspection will be included in a typical home inspection. But home inspections often forgo looking for pests and leave that up to the homeowner. Whereas roof inspections consider pests one of their main concerns. Plus, you probably won’t get to request drone or infrared inspection options.

How to Interpret the Results of the Roof Inspection

Once the roof inspection is complete, the roof inspector should present you with a full report of their findings. If possible, they may also take you around the home to point out the signs of damage that they noticed, without bringing you onto the roof.

Each company is likely to have its own reporting system. If you’re doing a home inspection for insurance purposes, the insurance company will likely have its own report, too. The report will list the roof’s condition, any recommended repairs, any concerns of a roof failing, and how much longer they expect the roof to last.

If the roof inspection is performed by a roofing company, they may also provide you with an estimate to fix any problems. The cost of roof repairs will be anywhere from $365 to $1,550, depending on the extent of the repairs.

If the roof is failing in too many sections, you’ll likely need a new roof. A roof replacement will cost around $14,360 on average. Opting for a new roof may save you money in the long run if ongoing repairs are needed.

Can You Perform a Roof Inspection Yourself?

A man doing inspection on new roof
Photo: Michael O'Keene / Adobe Stock

If you have a relatively flat roof on a single-story house, it’s possible for you to get on the roof to look for any signs of damage or missing materials. However, you will need the proper safety equipment, such as a harness, and even then it can be dangerous to attempt. If you want to do a simple visual inspection, you should only do so from the safety of a ladder. If you don’t have prior roof experience or feel unsure about inspecting it yourself, your best bet is to call in the professionals.

If you check out the roof yourself, you should still call in a roofing inspector to conduct a professional evaluation, especially if you found anything concerning. The value of an expert roof inspection is knowing that the job was done correctly, allowing you to move forward with repairs that will maintain your roof for years to come.

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