My old house in Bothell, the roof is leaking. Do I need to replace the whole roof, or just do a partial re-roofing?
There are several critical elements of a house, but it has to be said about the Puget Sound that a roof might be the most urgent part of a house to fix when there is a problem with it. Once a roof begins to let water into the house, you can’t always tell how much damage is finally going to be done. You might have great insurance coverage, but every insurance policy on Earth has conditions under which the payout amount may be reduced. If, for example, it was decided negligence was involved, or the roof was not adequately replaced in time, you the homeowner may be partially at fault. No matter what the cause, once the leak has been discovered, it’s a good idea to get it examined immediately. Even if the rain has stopped, and the forecast is for a month of sunshine, water damage may continue and grow as the water that already got into your house continues to wreak havoc with the internal structure of your home. When you have a leak, get a roof inspection as soon as possible.
The first step is a roof inspection
You can’t get to where you’re going until you know where you are. When your roof is damaged, the first thing you must understand as completely as is reasonably possible is what exactly that damage is. If it’s water damage, the situation might be more urgent because, like I mentioned earlier, water damage is usually progressive. That is, the damage doesn’t halt just because it stopped raining. If the damage is, for example, because of a tree falling on your house, then there are other risks at play. It might look like the tree is just sitting on your roof, but it might also be about to break through further. The straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Then there’s simply old age. It’s hard today to say how long a roof will last because new synthetic materials are extending the life of a roof considerably. No matter what the cause, get your self a roof inspection today. In many cases, a roofer will either give you an inspection for free or, more commonly, charge you a small fee but discount that against any future purchase. If there is visible damage to your roof that obviously needs repairing soon, you are more likely to get a free inspection and an estimate on the spot. In fact, if you simply ask for an estimate, a certain amount of ‘inspection’ needs to be done to produce a reliable estimate, and certain a quote.
Understand what the inspection means, and what the estimate covers
Every roof replacement or repair is unique. And there is always the possibility that something is missed because it could not be seen unless the old roof is removed, or the roof replacement project is substantially underway. For instance, wood rot in the structural support rafters and joists might not be visible until the waterproof layers on the plywood and the plywood underneath it is removed and the top of the rafters are plainly visible. The rot or soft damaged areas might be limited to a portion of the rafters, and so, even if you had spot checked those by actually removing tile, waterproofing and plywood – which an inspection is unlikely to undertake – so your roofing company is not going to know that until the job is well in progress. So, now the old tiles are removed, the waterproofing is taken away, and they’re looking at partial water damage on the plywood. It might be confined to a small area, covering a huge area, or in spots here and there. It’s unusual for the actual plywood to also be replaced, but it does happen. A slow and steady roof leak might have been letting water in for years, but was never obvious until the roof replacement project began. So now your roofer breaks the bad news. Instead of the job costing $25,000, large sections of your roof’s infrastructure have to be replaced too, and right in the middle of the project. This is why roof projects are easier in the winter, you could say, but you might not have the luxury of waiting if water from your roof leak is pouring in on your corn flakes. Now you have to get that extra repair work done before the roofing team can get back to work.
A rock solid inspection is worth it. You may indeed not have to rush towards a fix, and a thorough inspection will very likely let you know where you stand. Perhaps it is ok to wait until the warmer months. It all depends on the inspection.
It’s very likely that your roofing company, as well as providing you with an inspection and/or estimate, will want you to do business with them. For that reason, it’s very likely they will find a problem if it is there. Let’s face it, every dentist will find a hole in your tooth if there is one. It’s what keeps them in business.
Just how hard a job is roofing?
Roofing is not actually that difficult. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery, but if you make a mistake, it can have a disproportionately bad effect on your home. Two ancient phrases spring to mind “my kingdom for a nail” and “spoil the ship for a ha’perth of tar”. In the latter, the ship builder skimped on the cost of tarring the below-water exterior of the ship by a quarter of a penny. The result was that that slightly weakened spot, over time, let in enough damaging seawater to destroy the ship’s wooden hull. You could say, the same principle applies to a roof. Skimp a bit on the waterproofing material, and you may end up with those rainstorms finding their way into your corn flakes.
Find a roofing company with experience. Roofing might not be rocket science, but everything takes time to master, and roofing expertise is no exception.