402670_origBy Dymon Brady

If you are in the market for a new roof, you might be considering whether to do the installation yourself or to hire a professional. A roofing project can be overwhelming, with many obstacles to consider and prepare for, such as time, safety, experience and financial options.

Time

One common mistake made by those seeking the adventure of installing a new roof in “do-it-yourself “ fashion, is to underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete a roof. If you are doing a job yourself, chances are you are recruiting family and friends to help you. If the you and those people working alongside you are not used to working outside in the heat, they can easily tire and make your project last twice as long as projected. Also, if you do not have the specialized roofing tools, and instead use common household tools such as hammers and flat nose shovels,tearoff a roof tear off can take longer than expected and become a bit of a trial.

Underestimating the amount of time a roofing project will take can become a serious problem, especially if the weather forecast changes or if you are forced to leave your roof half done for a few days while you return to work or other commitments. I have seen more than one house flood, to the point that they had to replace sheetrock, carpet and furniture, because they were doing the job themselves. The wind blew off their covering or the roof was not covered in time as an unexpected downpour moved through.

Tarping Your Roof

It is difficult to tarp most roofs because one tarp will not cover the entire exposed area. If you combine tarps to cover the exposed roof, it is vitally important to overlap the tarps such that water will not funnel under tarps and into the living quarters and cause interior damage. When tarping a roof, you also need to go around water heater and furnace exhaust pipes, as well as chimneys and swamp coolers, etc. Often, the wind will blow a tarp off a roof during a storm leaving your home exposed to the elements.

To help prevent this, use battens (1×2 lumber) and 8 penny nails throughout the field of the tarp. It is always best to tear off only what you can secure properly by that evening with underlayment properly installed around all roof penetrations. Don’t forget to check credible weather forecasts throughout the project, viewing satellite images of the weather. (At Brady Roofing, we find NOAA.gov to be very accurate.) A change in the weather can spell disaster for you and your home.

Experience

Another common DIY roofing obstacle is lack of experience. Even your family and friend’s best intentions in helping you on your project will not make up for inexperience. There are certain areas of a roof that need to be installed in a specific manner and order, including ice shield (after drip edge) at eaves, valleys and penetrations. This is why it is a good idea to always have at least one experienced roofer helping when you install a roof.

It is very important to install a proper ice shield on your roof, especially in areas with heavy snow. It is essential to have this secondary measure against moisture penetration and leaks. An ice shield will protect your home as ice dams up in the eaves and valleys and against walls. This roofing technique should be done by an experienced roofer to ensure your home is protected. For more information, see our ice shield post here.

Also, keep in mind that inexperienced roofers can actually damage your shingles. If they move across your roof in a way that scuffs the shingles with their shoes or tools, they can remove granules from the shingles. These granules protect the asphalt shingle. Without them, the sun can wear out the exposed asphalt where the granules are missing. These situations can be costly, and are easily avoided by using experienced help.

Safety

When planning a DIY roofing project, be sure to consider the element of safety. Make sure you are using a sturdy ladder without any damage. If you are on a steep roof, you will need harnesses, safety nets and / or guardrails to prevent any falls. About 8 roofers die each year in the US because of falls, and many more are injured.

Also, be aware of power lines near your roof. Keep the ladder away from these power lines, and be aware of them as you are carrying any metal roofing materials. Electricity has been known to arc or jump from these lines for several feet if precautions are not met.

In addition to safety on the roof, be sure you are aware of people, animals and vehicles on the ground that could be damaged by falling objects. It is not worth someone getting injured to skip over these safety procedures.

Finances

The most commonly considered reason for roofing a home yourself usually comes down to finances. However, there are a few options to consider that can help you afford a professionally installed roof. If you can in any way afford to hire a contractor, do it. You can end up spending more money in repairs over the life of your roof than you would have initially by hiring out.

If you are not currently in a position to hire a contractor to install your roof, look into the possibility of patching your current roof while you save for the project. If it is necessary, look into a home loan for your roof, breaking down the expensive project into reasonable regular payments. Also, consider performing the tear off yourself and hiring out for the installation. This can really help reduce the overall price of your roof.

Installing a Roof Yourself

If you have no other option but to install your roof yourself, be sure to come prepared. Take the time to do plenty of research. Read advice from your shingle’s manufacturers, or from certified roofing contractors. This is not a good project in which to follow the advice of a DIY blog. Instead, make sure your sources are both credible and experienced. We recommend Owens Corning and Certainteed shingles, who both offer installation instructions for each shingle listed on their websites. Also, GAF has a great general DIY section of their website that will help you plan and carry out a successful roofing project.
We have our own Quality Control Checklist available for you to check your roofing installation plans against.

Even after you have done the proper research to become knowledgeable about installing a roof, it is still a good idea to consult an experienced roofer. If you need any advice, or have any questions, don’t hesitate to call a roofing contractor. Personally, I am willing to give any needed advice either over the phone or in a scheduled office visit. When visiting with a contractor about your roof, be sure to bring a picture of the area in question so they have a strong visual of what is going on. If you do not live locally, I am willing to look over pictures and answer any questions through email, as well.

Another great option is to hire a roofing consultant to come to your home and guide you through the roofing process. A consultant usually costs about $200 a visit. It would be a good investment to have a consultant come after you are finished tearing off your old roof and immediately before you begin installing your new shingles. This will help ensure that you are using correct tools, techniques and materials.

In conclusion, your roof is one of the most important aspects of your home. It protects your entire structure and all of your possessions from potential damage. When debating whether or not to install your roof yourself, be sure to make the decision with an honest assessment of how dependable the roof will be in the future. At Brady Roofing, we are willing to help you find the best solution for you and your home, both in finances and the quality of roof. Contact us for a free estimate, or if you are in need of any advice while installing your roof yourself.

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