90 yr old house with sagging tile roof

weed30September 6, 2008

I have a contract on a 90 yr old house. The inspection is on Monday, and from reading here, my main concerns are the roof, type of piping (galvanized v. copper) and electrical.

The roof is red clay tile and has a sag across the ridge. I know this is not a good thing, and could be very expensive to repair. It is a 1.5 story, and there are two bedrooms and a jack n jill bathroom upstairs, so there is no attic. If the inspection recommends support work for the roof, how is this done if there is no attic? Rip out the ceiling and add a beam? Would that create a domino effect? ie, movement from the repair causes cracks in the ceilings/walls, roof tile replacement, etc?

If everything else in the house is ok, (it does look well maintained by the PO, who lived there 60yrs.), I would probably get a structural engineer to do an inspection too.

I really love the house, the yard and the location, but I know not to let that blind me to reality.

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First off, I hope your inspection is going to be done by an inspector who REALLY knows old homes. A run of the mill inspector is not going to know what to be looking for. I would also get an inspection by an electrician and plumber. Yes, I absolutely would get an inspection by a structural engineer. Modify your offer if you have to, but do it for peace of mind.

We lived in a red clay tile roofed house from 2002-2005 in the Twin Cities but moved because of jobs. I loved that house! During our time in that house, we had to have some small work done on the roof. We learned very quickly to have ONLY a roofing company that regularly works on tile roofs touch it. An unqualified/run of the mill roofer will make more problems if they don't know how to detach and attach the tiles properly - there is a specific way. Secondly, in 2002, while chatting with the roofing company we used, just for fun we asked about the cost to replace the roof and we were told a ballpark estimate of $80,000 - the house was an 1800 sq ft 4-square. The work we had done was on a 6 ft x 6 ft area and that cost $1800.

The typical tiles are called Ludowici Tiles and I believe the company is in Ohio. The good news is that tile roofs have 80ish year lives. More good news is that if it needs repairs, you can repair only in small patches. With the house you describe, absolutely get a structural engineer into take a look.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 1:13PM
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Any ideas on how to find an inspector who really knows old homes? I've been Googling, but all the results are just inspector websites. Is there a resource on the web with a list of names/companies that have this experience?

The inspector I have scheduled did the inspection on my current home, and he was really very good and detailed.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 3:34PM
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Assuming your page is current and that you are still around St. Louis, I found this link for the Lafayette Historic District? I'd contact them and see about references. I googled "historic district st. louis" and there are a numbers of others.

Here is a link that might be useful: lafayette square hist. dictrict

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 5:13PM
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Thanks for the link. It seems I won't have to concern myself though -- we had 3" of rain on Thursday, and I'd asked my RE Agent to go over and check the basement and the bedroom ceiling where there had been evidence of previous water damage. He called me an hour ago and told me part of the downstairs hall ceiling had fallen. I guess the water ran down inside a wall and ended up pooling in that ceiling.

Wow. Dodged that bullet. It's a shame though - I really do like the house. My agent said we could wait and see what they were going to do to fix it, and get a guarantee, but I am not willing to take the risk. Lord knows how much damage is inside the walls.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 5:32PM
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