The first thing to consider when answering this question is, are you comfortable doing the actual work yourself? Although replacing a roof is relatively straightforward – certainly compared to, say, rewiring your house – but when you make a small mistake, you may create a small leak that grows into a big, expensive problem later on. it’s the small leaks that are the worst because, you might not notice them until they have had a year or two of doing damage, by which time the repair of that damage involves a lot of work and money.
Big leaks are, in a way, better than small leaks
Imagine, if you will, a big leak in the roof. Someone left, for example, a few square feet of pvc waterproofing out of the installation, and a month later, there was a big rainstorm. The water rushed in through the gap in the waterproofing, straight down through the attic, and into the – for example – laundry roof. The minor flooding is obvious, and the source of the problem, too, is easily traced. You call your favorite roofer and explain the problem. It’s fixed quickly, and nothing remains wet long enough to do any real damage. Dramatic as it all seems when the water pours from the laundry room ceiling, it is relatively easy to fix. You learn of the problem quickly. Compare that to a few small holes that let just enough water make its way into your attic, but not enough water to flood its way into your actual living space. Over the course of a winter, a section of your roof’s infrastructure remains damp. Even pressure-treated wood is not meant to remain damp for any length of time. Mold, too, arrives and prospers with the constant moisture, especially if your attic is poorly ventilated. Mold introduces a secondary set of problems. Black mold, for example, eats into dry wall and into wood, and needs to be removed by sophisticated means that are not inexpensive. You could, of course, decide to just ignore such a problem. Fix the roof leak, but ignore the mold problem, perhaps only adding good ventilation to the attic.
Expert, experienced roofers do the job in a fraction of the time
Did you ever wonder how a single cook can deliver a couple hundred individual meals to his or her restaurant goers in a single evening, when at home, it can take quite some time to deliver a single meal to a family of four? Well, the answer is two-fold. One, experience counts. After you have cooked thousands of meals, and that is your focus every day at work, you can multi-task to a tremendous degree. Instead of staring at that one egg frying away, you’re working on a dozen or more different dishes at the same time, effectively. All that ‘empty time’ you have cooking a meal for your family is filled with the attention to many other meal orders on the go. Experience can give you an order of magnitude more productivity. Second, you simply get faster at anything you do when you get more and more experience. So-called muscle memory often does a lot of the work, while you need think about it less and less. Do you remember the first time you were asked to slice up some garlic or an onion? It felt like a delicate, surgical procedure. After you’ve cooked for your family a number of times, and when you are under time pressure, experience brings a great productivity to the effort.
So, you want to replace the roof yourself. For the same job – and that’s assuming you know what you’re doing – you might invest three times the number of hours into it. You’ll mull over each shake or tile you nail to the roof, making sure you do each right. Maybe by the third of fourth roof you’ll begin to speed up a little, but a roofer who’s been doing it for thirty years could do it in the dark, and in a fraction of the time your would need. So, consider the fact that you might be saving yourself what is effectively less than ten dollars per hour, and hiring a professional roofer will make a lot more sense.
Getting the roofing project done before the weather changes
There are a number of things a roofing company will have to help them get the job completed quickly. First, they have a team. It’s not just one person working over a roof inch by inch, but rather, three or fours of them working together. The old roofing materials are stripped away quickly, piled into a refuse container and dispatched from the scene in a single day, usually. Would you know what size refuse container to use? Do you know what types of used materials cannot be sent to a landfill? The laws on refuse dumping have gotten stricter over the decades, and an experienced roofer will know what to send where. They will have solid contacts in the areas of dumping and new product procurement that will give him or her good prices and the ability to do the job for less than the average homeowner can.
What if the weather changes suddenly, just right after you have stripped the old materials from the roof? An experienced roofer will have tarps on standby and will be able to protect the exposed house before any real water damage ensues. A roofer will have a keen eye for the weather, and will have the tools, equipment and team members able to respond to a bad weather situation. They will also be able to concentrate – if needed – two or three teams onto a single home if needed in an emergency.
Roofers should be insured properly for the job
Roofing contractors, just like every other home services provider, are subject to quite a lot of state laws put in place to protect consumers, even if that is not entirely obvious. For instance, in order to legally offer roofing services to homeowners in the state of Washington, a roofing company must fully insure all of its employees. If one slides off your roof and ends up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, that state insurance is what protects you, the homeowner. It’s not a bad idea to have your own liability insurance to protect your assets in this type of situation, but the first line of defense is to know that the roofing contractor is insured. You can verify that they are – or not – by doing a search using their license number. This must be clearly visible on their website, their business cards, and any letterhead they use, such as on the bid form they offered you for the work.
Trust, but verify, I believe is what a president once said.
Check back next week!