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Any roof inspection should look at the roof, of course, but the roof surface is only one item that should be checked. The first thing to look at is your files. Do you have all of the paperwork you need? How about a copy of the warranty? Do you have the names and phone numbers of the companies that have been involved with the roof — previous inspectors, roofing contractors, architects, manufacturer technical services? You should have a copy of all the repair orders and the results of the repairs made. Finally, there should be a roof plan, drawn to scale, that not only shows all the equipment on the roof, but also the locations of any leaks and any repairs made.
The walls and glazing should also be checked. Too many times, leaks from wall, sealant and window failures are disguised as "roof" leaks. Look for cracks and water stains that may be symptomatic of problems in these areas. The worst offenders are pipes, conduit and other penetrations through the walls. Too often these are left unsealed, especially when they are installed as retrofits.
Once those steps have been taken, you are ready to look at the roof. The best place to start is with an overall look at the roof. Is it covered in debris, like leaves, plants and old air conditioning equipment? This is a sure sign that the roof has been neglected. Look at the surface of the roof. If there is a coating, is it intact? If there is gravel or ballast, are the rocks evenly distributed and covering the whole surface?
You should also check the drainage system. If there are large areas of standing water that never seem to go away, it may be possible to solve the problem simply by removing the gunk from around the drain. Or you may need to snake the roof drainpipes or down spouts.