The exterior of the house is what "welcomes us home". From landscaping to new siding to upgraded window or replaced roofing, the view from the street can be just as exciting as the interior space. When the roofing of the house is a significant architectural component, materials other than asphalt shingles have often been used. Many who love houses especially love those old slate and tile roofs. Some more rustic houses may sport a wooden shake or shingle roof though many such roofs are forbidden in fire prone areas.
The asphalt shingle roofing of old may not even be a close resemblance to what is available today. Certainly the newer architectural grade asphalt shingles cost more but in many cases they provide an appearance resembling slate, tile, and wood.
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This is an older house which has had an asphalt shingle roofing system installed. Notice how much the roofing itself sags between the ridge and eave edges. There are party walls between this house and the buildings alongside it, and therefore, there won't be any ventilation to the sides. Given the age of the building, it is unlikely that there is any ventilation along the eaves. This makes professional home inspectors wonder if condensation on the wood rafters in the attic contributed to the sagging. No matter what the thoughts triggered by the outward appearance of this roof, that attic and the roof framing merits a careful visual inspection from within the attic.
The major loads anticipated against this roofing surface will be winds and the possible build-up of snow. In some colder areas where snows are heavy, a sagged roof like this could possibly collapse due to the added loading.
It is quite common for old buildings to exhibit such sagging roofs and in most cases, it is due to what is commonly referred to as "light framing", wherein the rafters are considerably undersized relative to what would be expected in more contemporary houses. The smaller dimensioned rafters bend over a long period of time but rarely break. This is most likely due to the fiber bending strength of construction wood being about half of the fiber tearing strength.
This may also account for the sagging and bent flooring often found in very old houses. The bending of the wood in those cases is commonly called "creep".