Property expert warns home buyers to always ask this roof question or risk paying hundreds in repairs

Don't forget to ask this vital question about the roof

Buying a house with roof damage can work out very expensive – and yet, many house buyers don't think to ask their sellers about the condition of the roof, or to check it for damage themselves.

You probably have a checklist of questions for your seller, so add the question 'how old is the roof?' right now, or you could end up paying hundreds or even thousands in repairs further down the line.

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How to avoid buying a house with roof damage

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Property expert Heather Barrigan from MyJobQuote (opens in new tab) urges buyers to always ask about the state of the roof if they are buying an older home. 'This will ensure you understand the costs if you have to repair or replace the roof. For repairs, you should expect to pay anywhere from £250 to £450', she says.

The worst-case scenario is a roof that has been so badly damaged that it needs to be replaced – this will cost you. 'Costs range from £1500 to £4500 for a flat roof replacement, while a pitched roof is typically priced at £3500 to £7000.'

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While a couple of hundred in repairs may not be a big deal, having to fork out thousands for a brand new roof would certainly be an unwelcome expense for any new homeowners. What should you be looking out for? Mainly, 'buckled or curled shingles', explains Heather. 'This is normally caused by hot air from attic spaces, making your roof vulnerable to weather damage and poor insulation.'

How to inspect a roof during a viewing

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That's all good and well, but will that mean asking the house seller for a ladder? Will you have to climb up in order to see the state of the roof? Fortunately not – inspecting a roof is nowhere near as labour-intensive as that.

'You do not have to climb up onto your roof to inspect the damage,' says Heather. 'As long as you have a clear view from the ground. The mains signs to look for include sagging, ageing and any noticeable damage.'

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If you have noticed that the roof is damaged, now is the time for some probing questions to the seller: will they be willing, time permitting, to fix the roof before you complete the purchase? A professional roofer will almost certainly be required for a bigger job, so you may choose to negotiate a small discount if you anticipate a substantial cost to the repair. 

Anna Cottrell is Consumer Editor across Future's home brands. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening.