Wood Shingles

Many people would tell you anything to sell their home. Every home inspector and every buyer should be a skeptic, or risk having the wool pulled over their eyes.

At a recent home inspection a seller’s realtor followed me around the inspection, reiterating again and again that the seller’s roofer said the wood shingles would be good for another decade; they were thirty years old, and had the consistency of oatmeal.

Wood shingles are very difficult to assess.

At what point do they allow water entry?
At what point do wood shingles require replacement?
It is truly a tough call. So what does an inspector tell their buyer?

The first step is to look at every part of the roof and the inside face of the roof sheathing by going all the way through the attic. We must tell the buyer whether the system is leaking or not.

When wood shingles have degraded to this degree (above), the inspector must be strong for their buyer. The buyer should know that they are significantly degraded, and will require replacement at some point in the not-too-distant future.

We have to make sure our clients are not surprised. They need to know about the upcoming expense, as it will be significant!!

I also tell buyers that wood shingles can continue to keep water out for many years even when they appear very degraded.

An attempt can be made to replace or repair the worst shingles, and to re-sink or replace fasteners, but most buyers don’t want to effect what can be a ‘band-aid’ solution.


As wood shingles move through their ‘later years’, it becomes necessary/practical to check for leakage in the attic a couple of times per year, or invite a thorough home inspector to do so.

The most important thing is warning them about the upcoming expense, simply stated.

Andrew Christie, CET (civil), PHPIC

Safe Homes Canada