House-Flipper Guide – Part II: The Roof

Continuing with our informational series, “A Home Inspector’s Guide to House-Flipping,” we will now transition from site drainage upward, literally and metaphorically, to the roof.

It is an excellent selling point to have “NEW ROOF” among the listed features on all of your color flyers and home-for-sale listings on Trulia and Zillow. But a new roof is only as good as its installation, and what good is a new roof if its warrantee is void because the installer didn’t read the instructions?

To begin, we can exclude from our focus one type of roofing material because even the most courageous of Do-It-Yourselfers have their limits. I can honestly say that I have never seen a DIY tile roof.

Therefore, our focus is asphalt composition materials, most often shingles, but sometimes rolled roofing. Asphalt composition roofing can be loaded into the bed of any pickup truck, on demand, at most any lumber yard or Big-Box Do-It-Yourself center. But that’s what makes it dangerous. Any guy with an old pair of jeans and who isn’t afraid to stand on the top rung of a ladder would consider reroofing his own house a “no-brainer.”

We home inspectors can attest to that, at least the “no-brain” part.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that falls remain a leading cause of death and nearly half of those deadly falls have been from ladders, however one does not need to be able to stand on the top rung of a ladder to realize that the instructions to install asphalt composition roofing are written on every single package of shingle and rolled roofing materials, and with pictures. Unfortunately, in practice, the ability to stand on the top rung of a ladder seems to preclude the need to read instructions.

A new roof should contribute to a sense of home-owner security, one less thing to have to worry about for a while. But when the home inspector informs your potential buyer that, yes, the roof is new, and no, it’s not installed correctly, that capital investment in home equity becomes a negotiation sticking point and a likely reduction in sale price.

Our first suggestion is this, if you are considering reroofing the house yourself, or if you are planning on having a friend or family member do it, because he did his own roof and you are sure, because he told you, that he did an excellent job, just don’t. Those shingles don’t come out of the package in straight and even rows. Talent is required to prevent your roof from looking like grandma’s old quilt. Also, there are these metal thingies . . .  we call them flashings.

If you must do-it-yourself, then please read the instructions or at least look at the pictures on the instructions.

A new roof is an investment, but not all investments pan-out. The best way to show your potential home buyer that for the near long-term the roof is worry free is with the paperwork from the licensed contractor who installed it.

The moral of the story is this, a new roof is not necessarily a good, long-lasting and leak free roof. The good, long-lasting and leak free roof comes with documentation, a pedigree of sorts that will follow the roof through its warranty period.

Go To Part III: Plumbing

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