Real NEastate: Is a flat roof more vulnerable to snow? [previously published]

Real NEastate’s Stacey McCarthy has the week off. Today, enjoy a column of hers from this time last year. If we can’t escape this winter without snow, at least make sure you’re prepared.

Q: I am buying a home in Castor Gardens that has a flat roof. My home inspection took place this weekend and my home inspector said because of the snow he could not give me any input on the roof. I have two days left to decide if I even want the house or want the seller to make repairs. And they are calling for more snow! What should I do?

A: Undoubtedly, Philadelphia row homes with flat roofs can collect as many inches of snow on their roof as the ground does during snow storms. Sellers and home inspectors can’t be expected to shovel the roof before an inspection elected by a homebuyer. But I don’t recommend a homebuyer up there shoveling either.

Homebuyers deserve to know everything there is to know about a house before purchasing it, especially if there is a problem that is going to cost them money. If your inspector was not able to draw a conclusion about the roof, don’t just accept it and buy the home not knowing what’s up with the roof.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Before you run out of time to reply to the seller about your home inspection, make sure your agent draws up an addendum giving you more time to inspect the roof.
  2. Ask your home inspector if he’ll do a free roof inspection for you once the snow has melted. You may still have to pay him, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  3. Check the Sellers’ Disclosure document to see if the seller knows anything about the roof – the age, the condition, if there were any repairs, etc.
  4. Request receipts, and/or certifications from the seller regarding any repairs on the roof.
  5. If the seller knows it’s an older roof, call up some reputable roofers and ask for an estimate for repairs. Some will sweep the roof so they can see what lies beneath. Maybe they’ll charge you, maybe they won’t but at least you’ll know.

Act now before you run out of options and after purchasing the home find out that you’ll need a new roof. If you can’t afford one, you’ll be sorry you didn’t.

Stacey McCarthy is a real estate agent with the McCarthy Group of Keller Williams. Her Real NEastate column appears every Wednesday on NEastPhilly.com. See others hereRead other NEast Philly columns here.

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