Roof Repair Tips
You’ve finally decided your home needs a new roof. Do you do it yourself or have it done by a roofer? It’s not impossible for a homeowner to re-roof his own home, but most roofing jobs are done by professionals. Why so small a figure when do-it-yourself work is so popular these days? There are a combination of factors.
Reroofing your own house is a dirty, dangerous, time-consuming job that requires knowledge, planning and patience. The especially dirty part can be tearing off your old roof. Those shingles or tiles might look loose, but most will seem to cling for dear life when you try to pry them loose. Then you’ll have to get them into a dumpster or haul them to the dump. Either way, you pay for the dumpster rental and trips to the dump.
Getting rid of the old materials might not be the only removal job. There could be damage to your wood sheathing (plywood or particle board) or to your supports (the rafters supporting your roof). You might have to remove some of that and replace or reinforce.
There is a danger in all this, even for professional roofers. Just because your home may be one story with a low-sloping roof doesn’t mean you can’t be hurt seriously if you fall. And if your home is two stories with a steep-sloping roof the danger is substantial. It takes many precautions ranging from safety harnesses to special roof “rungs” to place your feet, to a constant attention to your work.
If you’re considering reroofing yourself, there are a few how-to books available in home centers and libraries that will take you through a detailed, step-by-step process. Planning is the key to making the project move efficiently. And learn whether your homeowners insurance covers you working on your own roof.
However, if you’re like most homeowners, you’ll have the work done. Here are some tips for selecting a contractor:
First, it will help if you choose, or at least have knowledge of, the variety of roofing materials before you choose a contractor. Chances are the roofing company with whom you finally do business will have independent roofing contractors that it hires regularly for its jobs. This might work to your advantage in that some roofs might require particular roofing skills to install. If a contractor is used to working with a particular product, he might do a better job than if you hired an independent yourself no matter what the product you choose to install.
Don’t choose a roofing material lightly or on the appraisal of a fellow homeowner. Do your homework. Consumer Reports is a good source.
Be sure the roof you choose is permitted under your city or county building code. If you live in a homeowners association, check its roofing requirements also.
If you’ve chosen your roofing material or if you want information presented by roofing firms, roofing companies and contractors advertise in the Yellow Pages, the newspaper or online. Look under “Roofing” or “Roofing Contractors.”
Just because a roofing contractor advertises in the newspaper or the Yellow Pages doesn’t mean he’s licensed, bonded and properly insured. If he’s not, it could leave you financially and legally liable in some situations. Ask to see the license. Don’t just take the contractor’s word for it or accept a number he gives you.
Ask for written bids on your job. Don’t accept a verbal bid. If the contractor doesn’t operate professionally enough to give you a written bid, there’s a good chance he might be unprofessional in his installation and any follow-up. Written bids might be the contract that you eventually sign, so make sure everything you need is in them. Ask for a list of addresses and, if possible, telephone numbers of at least six homeowners for whom the roofer has worked. You might not have time to check out all six jobs, but the contractor’s willingness to give you that long a list might indicate that he has a good stable of satisfied former customers.
When consulting with a contractor’s former customers, ask if they’re satisfied with the job, if the contractor finished it on time, if he was cooperative, and if there were problems covered under a warranty – if those problems were corrected quickly and easily.