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joefromcal 09-29-2010 09:24 PM

checking for rafter damage
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

DexterII 09-30-2010 08:25 AM

For what is is worth, it sounds like you need to find a qualified inspector before submitting a bid on any house.

BigJim 09-30-2010 09:12 AM

Yes I agree, you really do need an inspector on the house and any house you buy. It is not possible to have asphalt shingles nailed to just the rafters without decking. Maybe I am just not understanding your terminology. But don't worry, a good inspector will be able to get up in the attic without falling through the ceiling.

Daniel Holzman 09-30-2010 10:35 AM

Ditto, I have looked at hundreds of houses that have been damaged due to flood, hurricane etc., and I have never seen one with the asphalt shinges nailed directly to the rafters with no sheathing underneath. Yours could be the first, but since you apparently have not been up to the attic due to lack of boards, how is it you are so certain there is no sheathing?

Michael Thomas 09-30-2010 11:50 AM

Perhaps the OP is referring to "board-space-board" or "skip-sheathing":

joefromcal 09-30-2010 10:29 PM

Thank you all for the responses. I know I didn't see plywood up there but I have been informed that it's "skip sheathing", cedar shakes." Then I just looked at the photo above and that's what it is. I do pland to have a home inspector do a thorough inspection but I was just wondering how he could check the condition of the rafters that only has a ceiling drywall below it?? If it had a floor I could get up there myself and check each and every rafter carefully--I do have past experience replacing facia board that was dry rotted.

Michael Thomas 10-01-2010 06:27 AM


Originally Posted by joefromcal (Post 509624)
I do plan to have a home inspector do a thorough inspection but I was just wondering how he could check the condition of the rafters that only has a ceiling drywall below it?

Usually, the inspector walks carefully on the joists or trusses.

johnk 10-01-2010 07:43 PM

Yes you can get up there and look around,very carefully by standing on the trusses.Anyone with knowledge of how a house is built could inspect(roofer(a good one,lol),carpenter,etc)It is supposed to have skip sheathing with cedar shakes,this allow maximum breathing under your shakes to allow them to dry out,if they were installed on solid deck they would age very prematurely.From what I can see,I don't see anything wrong.In order to put asphalt shingles on you would have to have the roof sheeted.I wouldn't worry about your rafters to much unless it has leaked for some time.Make sure your terms on buying the house are subject to inspection.

Gary in WA 10-01-2010 09:18 PM

Be aware, when you re-roof, you will need to install sheet decking and remove the shakes first, added expenses that you could negotiate with now: This from your CA Code: Code Check 5th Edition Page 8:
Roof Coverings
Roof Sheathing
�� Solidly sheathed for asphalt shingle ____________________________ 1507.2.1
�� Wood panels req grade stamp and rating ____________________________ 2303.1.4

And you are probably under the 2009 IRC, ask local Building Department:
2. Where the existing roof covering is wood shake, slate, clay, cement or asbestos-cement tile. From:


joefromcal 10-02-2010 12:22 PM

Thank you all for the information.

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