Updated On

April 25, 2024

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    The roof of your home performs several major functions. It sheds water, prevents wind and snow from entering your home, allows for air circulation, and protects you and your home. These jobs are no easy feat.

    Inspecting your roof regularly ensures it will continue functioning correctly and withstand exposure to the elements. This guide explains what to expect during a roof inspection, including methods, costs, and troubleshooting for roof-related issues and common questions.

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    Highlights
    • There are a number of different reasons you may need a roof inspection including improper construction, wear and tear and severe weather damage.
    • They should include an interior inspection, material inspection, structural inspection, and workmanship inspection.
    • A professional roof inspection costs between $105 and $281, though the national average cost is $193.

    Why You May Need a Roof Inspection

    There are various reasons you may need a roof inspection. Roof systems can deteriorate for the following reasons:

    • Building movement: The materials on your home and roof have the potential to expand and contract, which can cause damage to your roof. Buildings also settle with age, and as your home settles, shifts in the foundation may cause damage to your roof.
    • Improper construction, design, or maintenance: Poor construction, bad design, improper maintenance, and incorrect roof repairs can all cause trouble for your roof. A roof inspection will flag any of these issues so you can correct them before it’s too late.
    • Normal wear and tear: Your roof performs a lot of big tasks. Even if you don’t live in an extreme climate or have construction or design problems, roofs age and experience normal wear and tear.
    • Severe weather events: Weather can be unpredictable. While there are steps that can prepare your roof for severe weather events, inspecting your roof after heavy snow or extreme wind is essential for catching damage right away.

    When To Schedule a Roof Inspection

    Regular roof inspections are the key to preventing potentially major structural damage. At a minimum, we recommend inspecting your roof annually. You should review your roof after any major weather event. Catching minor issues before they become serious problems or require costly repairs is critical.

    What Is Included in a Roof Inspection

    A professional roof inspection should examine all components of your roof, check for signs of damage throughout the ceiling and walls, evaluate structural support, and assess roofing material. Expect it to include an interior inspection, material inspection, structural inspection, and workmanship inspection.

    Interior Inspection

    Not all roof damage is visible from the outside, so an interior inspection of your roof is vital. Your roof inspector should check your home’s attic, ceilings, and walls. Typically, they look for the following signs of damage:

    • Cracks or holes in the ceilings or walls
    • Light shining into the attic from the ceiling or roof
    • Mildew or mold
    • Pests
    • Rotting wood
    • Water stains

    Material Inspection

    During the material inspection of your roof, the roofing company inspector should focus on the roofing materials — primarily the shingles and flashing. While looking for any general damage, the inspector should check for missing materials or discoloration from moss, rust, or water infiltration. They’ll also check for any signs of cracks, leaks, or pests. Check out our article to learn how to uncover concealed roof leaks.

    Person inspecting a roof's shingles

    Structural Inspection

    A structural inspection examines the well-being of the critical components of your roofing system and how the roof system overall is holding up. During this part of the evaluation, a roofing inspector looks for any signs that may indicate a sagging roof, including the following:

    • Absent or damaged collar ties
    • Absent or damaged rafter ties
    • Deteriorated or fractured rafters or trusses
    • Leaning or tilting exterior walls
    • Sagging ceilings
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    While on the roof, the inspector should check the condition of other roof components like the fascia, gutters, and soffits. If your home has a chimney or any skylights, they’ll inspect the grout, seals, and vents for any indication of damage

    Workmanship Inspection

    To ensure your roof inspection is thorough, ask your inspector to perform a workmanship inspection. The inspector should look for any problems in craftsmanship and common signs of a bad roofing job that could point to future risks of leaks or other damage, like incorrect flashing around roof penetrations.

    Roof Inspection Cost

    Generally, a professional roof inspection costs between $105 and $281, though the national average cost is $193. The cost of a roof inspection depends on several factors, like your roof’s size and pitch. Some roofing contractors will give a basic roof inspection for free before you hire them to do any work. However, if you want a detailed inspection, expect to pay for it.

    While most roofing inspectors charge a flat fee, some factors can influence the inspection cost, such as the following:

    • Level of damage
    • Roof accessibility and slope
    • Roof square footage
    • Roofing material and style
    • Type of roof inspection

    Types of Roof Inspections

    The type of roof inspection you get for your home can also affect the cost. Read on to learn more about the various types of roof inspections.

    Physical Roof Inspection

    A physical roof inspection is the most straightforward and least expensive inspection option. A roofing contractor will climb onto your roof and visually inspect critical components. These include the following:

    • Attic
    • Flashing
    • Gutters and downspouts
    • Roofing material
    • Roof penetrations
    • Soffits, fascia, and drip edges
    • Windows and chimneys

    After a physical inspection, the roofing contractor will make recommendations to remediate any issues.

    Infrared Roof Inspection

    Infrared roof inspections offer a more detailed picture of potential problems with your roof. By using infrared technology, professional inspectors can identify signs of damage that aren’t obvious or visible. This can include small cracks and leaks that could eventually cause significant damage.

    Drone Roof Inspection

    If your roof poses a high safety risk for the inspector, you can request a drone inspection. Typically, you would request a drone inspection if your roof is extremely steep or other factors have rendered it unsafe to walk on.

    During this type of inspection, the inspector will fly a drone around the house’s exterior, taking detailed pictures and videos of your roof and its components, then analyzing the data afterward.

    Drone ready to fly over a house for a roof inspection

    Home Inspections vs. Roof Inspections

    Home inspections and roof inspections are not the same. Almost all home inspections include a thorough review of your roof, but it’s usually more general than a dedicated, roof-specific inspection.

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    While a home inspector may discover major roof issues like water damage, you’ll get a more accurate and detailed idea of any problems with a roof inspection service.

    For example, while pest infestations are a primary concern with a roof inspection, home inspections won’t typically focus on something like that. It’s also less likely that a home inspection will offer a drone or infrared inspection of your roof, so if you want a comprehensive inspection report, you’ll need to enlist the help of a professional roof inspection company.

    Homeowner Roof Inspections vs. Professional Roof Inspections

    If you want to inspect your roof, it’s possible to do it yourself, especially if your roof is relatively flat or you have a single-story home. However, this can be dangerous, so you’ll need the proper safety equipment, like a harness. If you want to look for signs of damage or missing material, the safest option is to inspect your roof from a ladder. If you’re feeling unsure, call a professional.

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    If you find anything of concern, call a roofing professional to conduct an evaluation. An expert roof inspector can ensure the job has been done correctly and allow you to proceed with necessary repairs and maintenance.

    Final Thoughts: Is a Roof Inspection Worth It?

    For a relatively low cost, a professional roof inspection can discover any potential problems, allowing you to repair them and prevent further damage. If roof maintenance issues go undiscovered or are left unattended, it could cost you thousands of dollars. A thorough roof inspection is worth it for potential savings and peace of mind — and it’ll extend the lifespan of your roof.

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    FAQs About Roof Inspections

    How Often Should You Inspect Your Roof?

    You should plan to inspect your roof once a year. However, if any major weather events occur involving hail, snow, or wind, you should check for any damage or leaks afterward.


    What Are the Most Important Things To Check When Inspecting Your Roof?

    When inspecting your roof, you should look for leaks, damage, unusual wear and tear, moss or other organic growth, and any problems with material or shingle installation.


    Are Home Inspections Required?

    Home inspections are not mandatory. However, getting one is a good idea as it will identify any potential problems — major or minor — before purchase, even if it’s a new home.


    What Are the Most Common Roof Problems?

    Roof leaks are the most common roofing problem. While various issues can cause roof leaks, they usually happen because of broken or cracked shingles.


    What Are Some Signs You Might Need a New Roof?

    Signs you might need a new roof include damaged or missing shingles, discoloration, and moss or algae growth. You may notice a sunken or buckled appearance in the roofline, another sign your roof may need replacing.


    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Dani Straughan

    Dani Straughan

    Contributor

    Dani Straughan is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner from Durham, North Carolina, with an extensive writing background across multiple industries, ranging from coffee to automotive parts. Dani specializes in creating empathetic content that helps readers make informed decisions about home products and services. When they’re not writing about DIY projects and roof care, you will likely find Dani building custom handcrafted furniture or going on nature walks with friends.

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    photo of Lora Novak

    Lora Novak

    Senior Editor

    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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