The short answer is, every house is different, of course, but there are commonalities across all houses that make it possible to answer “in a matter of days”.
If bad weather is expected in four or five days, a roofing company can double up on staff for existing projects in the knowledge that in a few days, everyone is going to have a week off. The roofing project that was planned to last seven days will now talk just three. That’s because there are six people on your roof instead of three, and they’re working twelve hour days instead of the usual eight.
Some roofing companies have the equipment to cover a house when they are working. It’s actually possible to protect an entire house while the roofing project is in progress, or at least, part of the house can be covered and worked on to completion, then the the next part, and so on. That can be done with basic tarps and two-by-fours. It’s not easy, and it adds more labor to the project, but it does offer a means to get the work done in almost any kind of weather.
Do your roofing project in the summer, or at least in the warmer half of the year
Most people can tell when their roof will soon need replacing. The existing material is breaking up, and you might have already experiences leaking of one type or another. Or, you know that it has been twenty years since you put the last roof on. The summer is approaching, and it’s time to get a few bids, or call the last company that did the job for you.
Getting the roof replaced in June, July or August has a number of advantages. One, most roofing companies are geared up and staffed for the summer months. Two, they can bet on good weather, mostly, and don’t have to spend any time or materials covering your house while they do it. For the workers, too, it’s just easier all round to work during the long summer days than it is in the short, winter days.
Don’t wait until the summer, though, to get your roof project planned. Most roofing companies like to plan out their projects across the entire summer, and you might end up paying a premium if you wait until the last minute.
A typical house in Redmond, Kirkland or Bellevue can be re-roofed in a few days, with a full team. It is possible, if you use a company that employs just one or two people per project, that it can take a full week or more, but it is definitely a good question to ask any prospective roofing company: exactly how long will the project take from the beginning to the very end, after all the clean-up is done?
If you are considering doing the roof project yourself (not something I recommend), it might take a lot longer. I’d just say here, though, that although roofing is not in and of itself rocket science, making a few small mistakes during the project may end up costing you a lot more in the long run. A little leak here, another one there … and before you know it, you have a ten-thousand dollar interior repair bill, and the roof has to be redone by professionals.
I have heard of a roof being completely done in a single day, but it was a small house and a big team. Remember, you have to first remove the old roof material, several layers of it most likely, get rid of all the waste, line up the new material, and create the new roof from scratch. It’s a bit of work, obviously, and it makes it more difficult when the scrapped materials are in the same driveway as the new materials. It gets crowded, especially with a dozen workers climbing all over your house. My recommendation is to get the discarded old materials completely away and cleaned up before starting on the new roof. Even though a roofing company might get it done in whatever time you request, it will likely cost you more for the project, because it will take more person-hours if the job has to be done in a short time frame.
Give the project the time it needs
Likely, you won’t be around during the day when the roofers are doing their work. With a bit of planning, you could keep your kids away from the house while they do the work, especially if you have a baby around. That will keep everyone safe and happy. And it’s nice to return home to see the completed job.
Really, though, the job will be done best at the pace offered by the roofing company. Let them tell you the time frame, and you should work within that. They need the time to do it properly, without working about of their employees to the point of fatigue, and to get it completed in a predictable fashion.
Sometimes during the re-roofing process, problems are discovered. Perhaps there is water damage that wasn’t known about until the old roofing material was removed. If that occurs – setting aside the possibility of extra cost – it has to be repaired. And if enough issues are discovered, it could add an undetermined amount of time to the project.
Some roofing companies, especially during the busy summer months, will try to address such unforeseen events with overtime over and above the project for its workers, but mostly, it can simply add a day to the project.
And then there are injuries...
This is why your roofing company must be bonded and insured. If, for example, one of the roofing company works fell through your damaged roof and was seriously injured, who is liable? Well, when the roofing company is fully insured as required by state law, they should be covered by Washington State L & I coverage. That’s something you should always research before you even ask for a bid. don’t waste your time with roofers who are not bonded and insured. Usually, their license number is somewhere on their home page. It’s actually required now in Washington State, but many companies have not yet caught up with that requirement. If you can’t find it there, ask for their license number, or look for it on their stationary or business cards.
Take a few photos as it progresses
It might sound like a pointless thing to photograph, but especially if you have kids, taking photos of the roof being changed, with your kids present, can be a real memory maker years from now.
Don't forget to check back next week. We’ll talk about planning your re-roofing project step by step.