Ask About the Gutters

During the house hunting process, realtors and home inspectors have observed that prospective buyers often overlook the roofing system, the most important part of a house in terms of protecting it from the elements. While it’s wise to hire a home inspector to evaluate the house you are considering purchasing, professionals and their reports cost money. The answers to these pertinent questions regarding the roof and gutters might be able to tell you if a particular home is worth pursuing.

How old is the roof?

Don’t confuse the age of the house with how old the roof is. If the house is thirty years old, you will want to know if the roof has ever been replaced. If it hasn’t, inquire about how many times it’s been repaired and what kinds of repairs were done.

What is the roof made of?

Most types of roofing shingles will last 25 to 30 years. Asphalt shingles are the most popular and the least expensive, while cedar shingles tend to be the most expensive. But different products come with different warranties; ask if the roof of your prospective home is currently protected by a manufacturer’s guarantee.

How old are the gutters?

Whether or not you have budgeted for new gutters as part of the list of things you are prepared to fix when buying a home that’s new to you, it’s good to know if you’ll have to replace them later rather than sooner (or vice versa).

What kind of gutters are they?

Half-round, copper gutters are going to be higher maintenance than K-style, aluminum gutters.

Are there any major issues with drainage?

If you can’t see them with the naked eye, ask about the placement of the downspout and drainage pipes. Examine the ground around the foundation to ensure that it slopes away from rather than toward the house. Whenever possible, view the house on a rainy day; it’s easier to see if there are any potential leaks or drainage issues.

In addition to asking these questions about the gutters and roofing system, take a pair of binoculars with you. Does it look new and in good shape? Are there any missing shingles, obvious signs of damage or patches of moss? Then turn the binoculars on the gutters. Look for sagging gutter sections, discolored areas that might be mold or mildew, and dents.