I can’t tell if you are planning to do the actual job yourself, or if you are going to hire a roofing company to do it, but I’ll try to answer both questions.
Firstly, if you’ve never replaced a roof before, I would highly recommend, now is not the time to start. Replacing a roof is not the most complex part of home construction, but it has a few extra risks that don’t come with, say, replacing the carpet with Swedish pine wood flooring.
- The first risk is, when you make a mistake, it can be very costly to repair. That’s because roofs are a multi-layered construct. Each layer performs a specific purpose, and if you make a mistake on one, you may have to strip the layers above it off first.
- The second risk is, it’s often very difficult to detect a problem. If you had installed that wooden floor incorrectly, you will probably know immediately.
- The third risk is, you can’t replace your roof by doing it for two hours every evening after your real job. Once you start stripping off the old layers, the clock is ticking. You have to get the whole job finished before the rain comes.
- Lastly, when you make a mistake replacing a roof, you might know it until a lot of gradual water damage has occurred, many months later. That’s probably the biggest risk with roofs. You have to do it right. And it’s why I’m going to recommend to you to hire a roofing company to do it.
OK, so you’re flipping a house, and you know what you’re doing. That’s good.
How to plan your replacement roof project
1. BEFORE you start any work – such as removing shake tiles or ripping up waterproofing – have your replacement materials ready to go into action the moment they are needed. You might have to store them in your garage or close by. You don’t want to have essential no roof and then have a problem locating its replacement!
2. Buy a little more than you need. This is where experience really counts. First time roofers often guess too many or too few of whatever materials they use. After you’ve done a hundred roofs, you’ll get the hang of that. But for the beginner, unless you can easily order more (and perhaps pick them up yourself) you’ll probably need a few more than you think.
3. Take the time to understand materials. Every year, it seems, new materials come on to the market. Shakes, for example, are no longer allowed in certain cities and municipalities. But you can buy synthetic shakes that look like the real thing, last longer, and are fire resistant. Just like product such as Trex have made inroads into the deck market, there are countless options in roofing materials.
4. Get expert advice and help. For the simple reason of the risk, above, you need to do it right the first time. You’re doing this to save money, right?
5. Work out an accurate cost estimate. Before you start the project, go get an estimate or two from roofing companies you trust. See if you’re missing something such as roofing nails or nail gun rental. Be sure to include, by the way, all your costs, so when you see someone else’s estimate, you know you are comparing apples to apples. Remember, too, that roofing companies will have steep discounts on materials, prices you won’t get walking in the door as a regular consumer. It might actually be cheaper to get the roofing company to do it!
Have I talked you out of doing the job yourself yet?
I will oversimplify the project a bit here – I’m not a roofer, just a blogger, so don’t take any of this as gospel – but there are essentially three layers on the typical house roof in the Seattle area (including therefore Redmond, Kirkland and Bellevue areas). The first layer is plywood, then there is one or more waterproof, protecting layers, and on top of that is the roofing material itself. In between, there can be lats of wood to support the roofing material itself, and other materials.
Do you still even want to do this job?
Let’s assume you’ve got weather on your side. Even then, you know how the rain can arrive with just a few days’ notice. So once you start the project, get ready to devote yourself to it until it’s finished. If there is any chance of rain – and remember, your project will take longer than you planned – you might need enough tarpaulin to cover your entire house.
Be prepared to dispose of a ton of discarded roofing materials
When you stare at the pile of new roofing material, just remember that you will have the same amount, or possibly more (because the old roof may me heavier with moss and other stuff that stuck to your roof over time) of spent material to dispose of. So, you will need to hire one of those garbage skips into which you can throw the old stuff. I suggest you have that from Day One of the project, and put the trash into it as you go. Don’t waste time by creating a trash pile. This will keep your place a bit tidier, too.
Check that your house insurance covers you for a roofing project
It’s likely that in your area, you need to be fully licensed to do this type of work. House values can be impaired if certain jobs are not done by those who are licensed, bonded and insured. The insurance I am talking about is not simply the job and your house, but also, what happens if that helper you hired has an accident?
Neighborhood covenants regarding roof materials and the roofing work itself
Aside from state law, there are usually neighborhood covenants that restrict what you can and can’t do to your house. It’s usually fine if you are replacing a roof with the exact same material. But you should check with your neighbors before you do anything.
Replacing a roof is not something you should tackle yourself, unless you have previously worked for an actual roofing company and you have done the same work before, and learned everything you need to know. You do not want to learn the skill of roofing by experimenting with your own home.
Check back next week!