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As the old saying goes, the whole idea of buying a home is to put a “good roof over your head,” and that makes a roof inspection a vital component of the home-buying process.

If, after buying a home, you discover that the roof is damaged, leaky, or in a state of disrepair, it’s going to be very costly indeed. And unless you’re an expert on roofs, hiring a professional to inspect the roof of any home you may buy is of the utmost importance. Follow these tips to make sure the home you’re buying has a good roof.

Choosing a Roofer
Look for referrals on Angie’s List or similar websites. Make sure you see recommendations from people. If every inspection a company does results in a new roof, that’s an indication that they always recommend new roofs for a big payday, even if it isn’t necessary. And consider choosing someone local—a contractor who has worked on numerous roofs in the area over an extended period of time is likely to be a good one.

Being Diligent
Price is obviously an important consideration, but it isn’t the only one. Make sure anyone you hire is properly insured, and write out the details of what work is being done, specifically an inspection.

What They’re Looking For
If you’ve hired a qualified professional, they’ll know what they’re doing, but some things you can ask about are loose, broken or missing shingles; signs of leaks, damage, mold or mildew; and proper ventilation. Also, look for any signs of water damage inside the house, and let your roof professional know about those.

After the Inspection
If you’re lucky, the roof is in perfect condition, but if there are issues, then it’s time to negotiate. Have your inspector write up a list of what is wrong with the roof, along with an estimated cost, then your agent can talk with the homeowners’ agent about an adjustment to the price of the house, or if they want to make the repairs. If they choose, the latter, be sure that they know you’ll want a second inspection after it’s completed.

Taking some proactive steps can save you money in the long run, and provide some peace of mind after you move in.