Cedar Shake Roof Inspection Today

I did a drive by on a house that I will be inspecting later today for the seller. The home has a cedar shake roof. The roof looks rough from the ground, although looks like high quality shakes. Shingles do not lay flat in 70% of the roof that I observed, in fact they look like they stand off the roof horizontally. It’s the original roof about 32 years old ( 15-40+ life expectancy). Cupping and curling observed. Finished garage and cathedral ceilings, no access. On top of that raining today…Because of the appearance Realtor wants to remove the stigma of the roof, or suggest options for the seller.
Sorry no pictures.
Any thoughts?
Gerald Wilcox
House Check Home Inspections

I could do that one from here!! 32 years old at the end of its life expectancy. Raining is the best time to inspect a roof not much guessing.

Thanks Charlie, Sure based on those facts. Because it’s raining I wont be walking this roof, but there is no way to access a attic space to look for more details, I am concerned if a ventilation problem may have caused some of these issues in the shingles behavior. Sure I will mention the obvious in the report, that it is nearing the end of its life expectancy, but I feel that the inspection of this roof will be very limited. Unable to determine any leakage except in the finished ceilings.
Gerald Wilcox
House Check Home Inspections

I had one last weekend that the seller, (second owner) alleged was original, as told to him by the first owner (built in 1968). The cedar shakes were the thickest I had ever seen, between 2 1/2" to almost 3". Anyway obviously it was older, and the west side was solid with no real deterioration. However the east side was shot. All the shingles were rotting and in poor condition.
My thoughts were that it had been replaced, at least on one side.

Anyway, If you are uncertain about its’ condition, then I would recommend an additional inspection by a roofing contractor for another opinion. The cupping curling shakes do not sound good to me.
Often that happens after someone has pressure washed the heck out of them, which removes oils and tannins on the top layer, causing the top layer to dry out and shrink.

not worth it

It’s always best to stay off a shake roof in any case. Too easy to damage, or for to be accused of having damaged it. If it’s cupping and curling, always refer it, cause it won’t be long for the world. If it is leaking, since the ceiling is vaulted, even a slight leak should leave signs…be wary if the ceiling has just been painted…if it’s sheetrock, and they patched it, try to look at it from all angles possible in the light…it takes a pretty good finish guy to completely leave NO sign of a repair. Use your binoks, and view the roof from the ground or your ladder.

A house I saw once…can’t remember where…every upstairs bedroom had painting and slight shadowing above the windows where you could see they had painted over the repaired areas.

The options are limitless. Unfortunately the roof will most likely have to be sheeted if anything other than shakes are going to be used. This cost has to be added into the equation and I always recommend 15 lb felt and ice and water shield. along with drip edge on the eves and rake. It can get expensive.

Thanks for all the input. It has been raining for the last 4 days and we put the inspection off, until next week. In this case the rain will have been a big help to determine the condition of this roof at the time of the report. Even though it will be noted that it is nearing the end of it’s life expectancy.
Gerald Wilcox
House Check Home Inspections

You have already suggested that the roof has exceeded its design life expectancy. Review and estimations for replacement would seem to be in order.

Because many wood shake roofs only last from 15-22 years, more and more insurance companies will take a real hard look at any over 10-12 yrs old for insurability. Look at them closely - its highly unlikely that if the roof is 32 yrs old that they don’t have multiple issues such as: excessively raised shakes; cracked shakes; loose, separated or missing ridge caps; wash-outs (small holes); nail pops; moss; missing shakes or pieces of shakes.

Raining or not your binoculars will show many of these issues. If you’ve got ANY …

Your next step is:

" WE noted various concerns with the wood shake roofing such as … We recommend having a licensed and competent roofing contractor read the report, examine the system and then repair or replace the wood shakes as is needed. Also due to the age of the roof, verify the insurability of the roof prior to closing escrow as it is at or near the end of a useful life-span".