The roof is the advance guard of the house. It engages the elements first and
provides the most fundamental protection from them. As such it is always a source of
anxiety and concern. If it's old, you wonder when you'll have to replace it.
If it's new, you wonder when you'll have to repair it.
Every roof needs adequate runoff. You can't just let the water that is ready to fall
off your roof go straight over the sides. First of all, the random dripping would
keep you up and drive you crazy. Then all the water would end up in your
basement, or flooding the area around your crawl space or foundation. To ensure
proper runoff, all roofs must have gutters that drain the water to leaders.
Check the southern exposure of the roof. This side gets the worst beating from the
sun's rays because of the rising and setting of the sun in the south. (Well,
actually it rises in the east and sets in the west, but you'd never know it to look at the
southern exposure of your roof.)
Trying to decide which way is south will probably keep you too preoccupied to ask what the
roof is made of and whether or not it keeps the weather out (should you buy, you'll find
out when it rains). The most common roofing materials are:
Slate: Unbelievably expensive, breaks easily, requires specially
trained, dying breed of crafts folk to repair or replace.
Asphalt Shingle: Smells funny when wet, cracks in cold, retains heat in
Wood: Leaks, smells, rots.
Metal: Bends, rusts, corrodes
If price is no object, you might consider a thatched roof, certainly the cutest roof of
all, especially if you don't mind living under a fire hazard teeming with mice and
spiders. From a distance, a house with a thatched roof looks like Don King.
This Homebuyers Tip was excerpted from:
The House Trap, by Alfred Gingold, Workman Publishing, 1988.