Fall rains, and potentially imminent snow can be a very serious cause for concern. Proper drainage around the foundation of a house is important, as is the protective envelope of the building itself, including the roof.
The Roof :
It is most logical to begin your inspection from the roof, down to the ground.The roof :The vast majority of residential roofs are either a single peak roof, or a combination of multiple peaks. Most residential roofs are protected with asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, tile (and concrete), or slate. To a lesser extent there are also flat roofs, and metal clad roofs.You are likely already aware of any leaks in your roof from water dripping into your house, or from the attic inspection. In getting onto your roof, use only an approved ladder, and be sure to take as many safety precautions as possible. (Setting up at the lowest point, using a 1 to 4 ratio for the angle, having a spotter, etc) Avoid walking on the roof as much as possible. This is often necessary, however it is much more likely to cause damage to the roofing material. The most common places for water to penetrate a roof are in valleys where two roofs meet, at the bottom of the roof near the gutters, and around vents, chimneys, skylights, or near flashings found where the roof butts up against a second or third floor exterior wall.If you are trying to repair damaged asphalt shingles, this is something that the average house owner can do themselves. There is a lot of information on doing this repair, but a straight forward step by step instruction can be found at Do-it-yourself.com. Repairs for slate, tile, cement, cedar shakes, metal or flat roofs are best handled by a professional contractor.Mildew can also become a problem on shake and asphalt roofs. 3M makes a product that prevents mildew from attaching to asphalt shingles, and there are cleaners available for shake roofs, however both of these jobs are best handled by a professional roofing contractor.While on your roof, it is also wise to check and lubricate attic (whirly bird) vents, and to inspect exhaust vents for plumbing, furnace, hot water heaters, and chimney’s. Check that these are not blocked, and that the roofing material is not damaged where it meets the flashing. Check the tension of guide wires, if any, for high chimney’s.Siding:Houses have many types of protective envelopes on the exterior walls. Siding, singles, stucco, slate, brick, stone, cement and metal cover almost all homes. Depending on where you live, the northern exposure usually receives the most damage from moisture and weathering. Because of limited exposure to the sun, mildew tends to grow on North faces, which can lead to rot, and premature failure of many wood and stucco envelopes. Excessive mildew should be brushed off, and the surface should be washed. An excellent environmentally friendly product is made by Biowash, and is available at most home centers.When checking wooden aspects of house exteriors, the paint is the primary protection from the elements. Check for peeling, bubbling, and cracking. Identify area’s that will require repair and re-painting as soon as damage is found! Delaying repairs may result in subsequent damage that will require significant work to repair.Foundation:You should walk around the perimeter of your home to check the foundation. At no point should the grade rise above the concrete foundation. If you find the grade is against the wooden sill plate, it is likely you will have water damage and/or pest damage. The grade must be lowered, and sloped away from the house to help move water from around the foundation.Water damage is the number one cause of exterior damage to homes. Catching it quickly (within one season) will prevent serious damage that would ultimately require more than just paint to repair.