3 Signs Your Home’s Roof Was Laid By An Amateur

Whether you've just moved into a home with a new roof or whether you're in the market for a home, you need to know how to initially assess a roof for basic installation mistakes. Here are three signs that your home's roof may have been installed by someone who wasn't very experienced.

1. The flashing isn't placed correctly

Flashing problems are one of the most common reasons for roof leaks. In fact, no matter how well the rest of your roof is installed, even one flashing mistake can cause extensive leakage. And in fact flashing mistakes are all too easy to make. A few of the common flashing mistakes roofing professionals encounter include:

  • Caulk instead of flashing (always a bad idea)
  • Wrong type of flashing used
  • Flashing laid along in a strip where it should be "stepped"
  • Kick-out flashing missing
  • Chimney flashing not embedded into the chimney mortar

If you're not experienced with roofing yourself, you may not be able to identify all these mistakes. But if you can see any flashing that's hanging loose, or any joins (such as where a roof slope meets a wall, or where the chimney meets the roof) that only have caulk rather than flashing, you know there's a problem.

2. The shingles aren't laid out alternately

If the tabs of each row (or "course") meet up with the tabs in the rows beneath and above it, instead of alternating, that's a clear sign the installer didn't know what they were doing. Each row needs to be placed so that the slits between the tabs don't hit where the slits on the adjacent rows fall. The tabs and slits need to alternate regularly.

3. The edge doesn't line up or doesn't have a drip edge flashing

The drip edge of the roof (the edge by the eaves, where rainwater drips off into the gutter) needs to be lined up correctly with the gutter or the rainwater may overshoot or undershoot, failing to land in the gutter. The edge also needs to have a metal "drip edge" that guides the water into the gutter; this protects the fascia board from rot. An amateur may not be trained in these details. 

These three signs can help you spot a roof that wasn't installed by an expert. If you suspect the roof was installed with subpar workmanship, you should have it inspected for any repairs or replacements that it may need. Be sure to hire a professional from a roof company any time you need repairs or reroofing to avoid problems that these and other oversights can cause.