Should I buy a house with an old roof? How old is too old?

The roof is a critical part of any property, but one that is often overlooked by potential buyers when they’re looking for a new home. British housing stock is among the oldest in Europe, so it is key that you consider the age of the roof when making your decision. An old roof can create problems for you in the long run but could also allow you to negotiate a lower price for your property. The key is to make sure that you have everything you need to make an informed decision.

Find out the age of the property

The first step is to find out from the estate agent or current owner how old the roof of the property is. They should have records of when it was last renewed or repaired. In theory, a roof can last for many decades but if you find out the roof of the property is 25 years of age or older, that can be a warning sign that things may go wrong sooner rather than later. However, this will depend entirely on the individual qualities of the property. It is possible to purchase a home with a 25-year-old roof that will continue to serve you for another 25 years. However, the older a roof gets the less you can rely on that. In 25 years exposure to the elements and other environmental factors may have caused unseen damage. In short, 25 years of age can be considered old for a roof, but if it looks to be in good condition, consider having a full survey undertaken by a qualified professional to find out more.

Have a professional survey completed

A roof inspection is not a typical part of the property buying process in the UK, so you will likely have to arrange it yourself. When you get the results of the survey back, weigh up the results and assess any potential warning signs with the benefits of the rest of the property. In the meantime, a few problems you can spot yourself include:

  • Sagging roof

    If there are visible dips in the beams of the roof, that could be a sign of shoddy installation or water damage. This, combined with its age, could be considered a major red flag, as it is a sign the roof might not be structurally sound.

  • Missing tiles or slates

    Cracked or missing tiles or slates, or moss growing over the roof is a sign that it has not been properly maintained over the years. If these issues have not been attended to then there could be greater problems as well.

  • Signs of water damage

    When touring the interior of the property look out for signs of water damage. If you see damp patches or mould where the walls meet the roof of the property, it could be a sign that the roof is leaking moisture into the house.

If it turns out that the roof is in poor shape, combined with its age, don’t be afraid to walk away. An aged roof with these compounding issues could present a serious challenge to rectify. Be sure to know the signs a roof needs replacing so you can make an informed choice about your property.

Discuss it with the seller

Contact the seller or estate agent and discuss your findings about the roof. It is possible you might be able to use an older roof to negotiate a lower price for the property. This could free up money for any repair or renewal work further down the line if necessary, and you still get a home that you love. Depending on the motivation of the seller, you may even be able to negotiate repair work to be completed by them before you move in as part of the sale. It is always best to ask and see what can be arranged.

Consider the opportunities for a new roof

If you purchase a house with an old roof, you might consider a replacement that will benefit you in the long term. A replacement roof is an excellent opportunity give your property the roof it deserves. You could opt for a more attractive and long-lasting system, enhance your property’s energy efficiency with new insulation, or even add solar panels. You’ll also be more motivated than a previous owner to find the best contractor for the job and start your time in your new home with a new roof and a new warranty. Purchasing a property with an old roof doesn’t need to be a burden and could instead be an opportunity to create the home of your dreams.

For premium roofing solutions you can rely on, contact Groom & Co. We are a highly reputable roofing contractor delivering impeccable results to homes all over London. We offer thorough drone surveys to tell you everything about a roof of a prospective property, providing you with high-quality footage and a full written report. If you do find that you need a new roofing system for your property, install new systems and like-for-like replacements with professionalism and care. To find out more, call 0800 6444 777 or send an email to