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joefromcal 09-29-2010 09:44 PM

checking the rafters
Hello. I'm thinking about buying a house that has a roof in need of repair. The house in question has its asphalt shingles nailed right to the rafters, etc.; it has no wood paneling between the rafters and shingles as far as I can see. In the family room acoustic ceiling there's some water damage. I don't know if this damage is from roof leakage or condensation idue to poor ventilation. I don't mind replacing the roof but I'm concerned about there being dry rot damage to the rafters. This house has no floorboards above the ceiling and so the only way to check the rafters would be to walk or crawl above the walls. If my offer is accepted I'll have a home inspection done but without a floor below the roof I wasn't sure how extensive of a check on the rafters the inspector could do. Or, could a carpenter check this? Any suggestions as to how this can be done and checked? If rafters need to be replaced I'm sure that would be quite expensive and I don't think I could fit that into my budget. Also, if I put a new roof on, can I first have panels put on the eaves and then the rafters on top of that? I wasn't sure if no paneling was put on due to costs or to limit the weight on top of the rafters. Any suggestions are much appreciated. Thank you. Joe

wombosi 09-30-2010 08:38 AM

hey there,
sounds like a mess. but i think you must be misunderstanding things.
there is no way that asphalt shingles can be nailed on over just rafters. i can't imagine anyone doing this for any reason. if it is the case for some crazy reason, i wouldn't even consider buying the house, as the rest of it is probably in the same funky condition.

it's possible you've got "skip sheathing", cedar shakes, and then asphalt on top of that, which is common.

get up into the attic with a flashlight and take a "common sense" look at things.
does it look dry? do the rafters look sound? do you see sheathing on the roof? plywood? individual boards spaced a few inches apart?

and yes, a carpenter can assess this area just as well as a home inspector.

if your rafters are sound and the roofing material is not, it needs a new roof. if it's bad enough, it will need new sheathing also, which depending on square footage is expensive, but if you've got moderate skills not too hard to DIY.

good luck.

joefromcal 09-30-2010 10:21 PM

Thanks for the info. I bet you're right. To my untrained eye I probably thought what I was seeing between the rafters was the shingles and it was most likely what you're talking about. I know for a fact it was not plywood sheathing since I do know what that looks like. I've also had experience with dry rot but wasn't sure how to check the rafters where there is no floor to stand on. If there was a floor I could take my time and go from rafter to rafter with a screwdriver and test each and every rafter. Just wasn't sure if there was some other way to do it when all there is is a drywall floor. Thanks again.

wombosi 10-01-2010 08:12 AM

whatever you can see with a flashlight through whatever access opening there is, should be enough to give you an idea.

if there's a problem with the roof leaking, you'll know about it immediately.
the rafters will look all stained and blotchy and messed up, and wet and obviously rotting.

major roof leak isn't going to give you subtle "dry rot" that you can only find by poking with a screwdriver - in my opinion.

if you can reach a rafter or two, feel it with your hand. is it dry? are there any soft spots?

and you should really be able to get up there and crawl around, on top of a joist, or bring a board up with you to span a few joists.

take a picture if you can and post it here. figure out what the sheathing is.

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