When you purchase a home, you may or may not know its age or the age of its constituent parts. For example, it can be challenging to determine if your roof is a certain age, particularly if the previous owners do not know anything about the roof’s age.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to determine the age of your roof if you are unsure. So if you find yourself asking, “How old is my roof,” we are here to break down six different ways you can determine its age. Read on to learn more.
CHECK YOUR CONTRACT
If owners know the roof’s age or have recently replaced it, they will include this information in the seller’s disclosure portion of your home contract during the home buying process.
If there is any known damage to the roof or if it is performing poorly, the sellers must disclose this information on the disclosure form. They are not necessarily required to say when they last replaced the roof. However, commonly sellers include this information in disclosures, even if they are not required to do so.
CONTACT THE PREVIOUS OWNERS
You can ask the previous owners when they last had a roof installation or roof replacement.
Contact the previous owners by phone, email, or social media if you have their contact information and ask them. If you do not have the previous owner’s contact information, reach out to your realtor to contact their realtor.
Keeping an open line of communication with your home’s previous owners is ideal as they can answer many questions about your home’s condition and past performance.
A roofing company receipt, alongside inspection records, can also be valuable pieces of information about your home and its constituent parts. If the previous homeowners do not remember when the last roof was replaced, they may remember the company that replaced it.
If you can get information about the roofing company that last worked on your house, reach out to see if they have a record of receipts for your home. Most roofing companies keep receipts dating back years for just this purpose.
Receipts should be dated, so you should be able to determine the age of your roof from a receipt alone.
RESEARCH THE BUILDING PERMIT
In many jurisdictions (i.e., counties, cities, or municipalities) across the US, local roofers and contractors must get a building permit if replacing a roof. A building permit is an authoritative document that grants someone permission to engage in new construction or to expand or renovate existing construction.
Because a roof replacement counts as a major renovation, you should expect that the company that last replaced your roof took out a building permit to do so. Building permits are usually public records, so with a little bit of sleuthing, you should be able to find the building permits for your home.
WHERE TO FIND THE BUILDING PERMIT
You can begin your search online if your jurisdiction maintains an online database of building permits. You can usually find this through your county clerk, city clerk, or zoning and planning office website. If you do not have luck online, call or head there in person to look for a copy of the building permits for your home.
If you cannot find your home’s building permits through federal and local government offices, some websites specialize in providing building permit information online. These include sites like BuildZoom, CoreLogic, and ATTOM.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
If you cannot determine the age of your roof on your own, you can hire a professional to do it for you. While this is probably the most costly option, it is a good resort should other methods of determining your roof’s age fail.
A roofing contractor, home inspector, and roofers have training and experience to help them determine a roof’s age. They can inspect your roof to estimate how old it might be.
If you hire a professional to determine your roof’s age, they will look at the quality of the roofing material, whether asphalt shingles are curled, blistered, or cracked, or if any shingles are blown-off or missing. These signs of wear and tear are good indicators of a roof’s age, and a qualified inspector should be able to estimate for you based on what they observe.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN HIRING PROFESSIONALS
You can hire roofing companies and contractors or independent inspectors. However, keep in mind that not all professionals are the same when estimating your roof’s age. Research who is available locally so you can avoid being given an estimate of a higher age for your roof, suggesting you need a replacement or repairs.
Independent inspectors do not have a stake in whether you purchase a replacement roof and may give you a more accurate estimate. If you have the funds and are curious about your roof’s age, you can even get multiple opinions.
DO IT YOURSELF
If all else fails when determining the age of your roof, you can always conduct your own visual inspection of the roof. While you may not be a trained professional, you can spot signs of roof aging that will tell you if your roof needs to be repaired or replaced.
CONDUCTING YOUR OWN INSPECTION
The result of conducting your own inspection may not be an exact roof age, but you should at least be able to spot signs of aging, damage, and distress. Some common signs to look out for as your roof ages include:
- Missing, damaged, or cracked shingles
- Rusted flashing
- Curling shingles
- Moss or algae growth
- Exposed or rusted nails
- Missing shingle granules
- Damaged roof valleys
Check to see if you notice these signs and how advanced they appear. If you notice multiple signs of aging or if the damage is extensive, it may be time to get your aging roof repaired or replaced.
If you have recently purchased a home, you should wonder, “how old is my roof?” To determine your roof’s age, you can check your contract, contact the previous owners, get receipts, research the building permit, hire a professional, or do it yourself.
These proven methods for determining your roof’s age should give you the information you want and help determine if repairs or replacements are needed for a new roof. Follow the tips in this guide, and you will gain valuable information about your home that empowers you to make the best choices as a homeowner.