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roof problems
Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, and not one that should be taken lightly. In fact, according to one study, it’s the single most stressful event in a person’s life, and one that brings up to one-third of home buyers to tears. And for those buying a fixer-upper, that stress may be even greater than you imagined. So, what should a prospective buyer do if they find an absolutely amazing home, only to discover that there’s a major problem with the roof? We break down what those roof problems might mean in the future, and whether it’s worth it in the long run.

Should You Buy A House With

Roof Problems?

roof problems

It depends on the roofing issue

Not all roofing issues are created equal, nor is the stress that comes along with them. If you’re eager to buy a home, but discover it has roofing issues, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to panic—or back away from the sale. While they may seem daunting, some roofing issues are small enough that they can be repaired both quickly and inexpensively. Issues like a few missing shingles, some flashing that needs replacement, or aesthetic issues, like replacing aluminum gutters with copper ones, don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, a significant investment of time, or any undue stress.

How much time do you have to spend?

While many people spend months finding the perfect home and moving in, for others, it’s a speedy process that means you’ll be neck-deep in moving boxes before you’ve even signed on the dotted line—that sloping glass roof on Manhattan’s Central Park Tower or the gilded tip of the New York Life building probably weren’t installed in a day, either. If the latter is the case, it might be wise to avoid a home with major roof problems. While there are countless smaller roof repairs that can take just a few hours to fix, if you’re adding insulation to the underside of your whole roof, replacing the whole roof, or need to fix any structural damage associate with the roof repairs, you’re not only in for a huge amount of stress, but a project that can take weeks, if not longer. The good news? There are countless budget-friendly fixer-uppers that you can buy without having to endure the headache of a major roof repairs.

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Is there water damage?

Though having to repair a roof can be pain enough on its own, having to repair a roof and fix water damage is an undeniably more frustrating issue. When a roof leaks, it can cause water damage to the insulation, plaster, drywall, or even wood framing of a house, and, if it’s been left unattended to for a prolonged period of time, can even weaken your home’s structure. Worse yet, an unstable roof and the subsequent leaks can spur the development of dangerous mold, which, if left un-remediated, can cause respiratory problems, headaches, skin rashes, chronic fatigue, and more.

Will you have to do interior construction or demolition?

Before you buy a house with a roof problem, there’s an even bigger issue to address: whether or not that flimsy roof has led to structural damage inside. As is the case with leaks that haven’t been attended to, other roofing issues can cause structural damage inside your home that may require you to do serious demolition or repairs before it’s time to move in. So, what exactly fits the bill in this situation? In many cases, old chimneys that are falling apart or are improperly attached through the roof can cause both interior and exterior issues, not to mention aesthetic ones. And while tearing down an old chimney may not seem like a huge project, depending on the age of your house, doing the demo yourself could put you at risk for a long list of health problems, from exposure to everything from lead paint to asbestos.

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Do you have enough money to replace the entire roof?

Six words that can strike fear into the heart of even the most intrepid buyer: “You have to replace the roof.” While you may have purchased your home knowing that there are some roofing issues to be attended to, it’s a good idea to have enough of a contingency budget available to replace the whole thing, if need be. While many roofing issues can be addressed quickly and with little stress to you, it’s better to plan for the worst-case scenario than to deal with the stress (and possible sickness) of living in a home with persistent leaks for the next 10 years.

When was the last roof installed?

If the last roof installed on your home is under 10 years old and is already having problems, it might be worth your while to reconsider. While shingles or gutters will occasionally fall off a roof of any age, if your roof is in true disrepair, it could mean that there are greater issues at play, including foundation problems, mold, or rot. For the sake of your mental and physical health, if a relatively new roof needs a total replacement, it’s probably worth your while to look elsewhere.

While purchasing a home with roof problems can be daunting, those missing shingles and minor leaks don’t have to be deal breakers. If you’re up to the task, a roof with a few minor repairs in its future could present you with the budget-friendly peace of mind you’ve been looking for.

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