How do you know when it's time to reroof? How do you choose the roof best suited to your home and budget? Should you attempt the job yourself, or seek professional help? Read on.
Spring is a good time to inspect your roof. Winter damage is fresh and often easier to access, and should extensive work be necessary, the summer months ahead provide plenty of good, dry weather. Start your inspection with a visual check from outside. Look for obvious damage first -- missing shingles, cracked tiles, warped or gapping wood shakes. Follow the roof line with your eyes, It should be perfectly horizontal. If it has a noticeable sag, you may have a structural problem created by a prolonged roof leak. If you suspect structural sagging, consult a professional immediately.
With asphalt roofs, look for thin, weather-worn shingles. If the shingles are brittle, they may have lost their protective inner oils, and refoofing may be required. If the roof only has a few bad spots, you may consider doing repair work yourself. Asphalt shingle repair is not difficult or expensive, and there are many comprehensive do-it-yourself books that can guide you through the repair process.
Traditioal wooden shakes and shingles can warp, split, thin in the sun and rain, and be torn off by high winds, leaving the roof structure exposed to the elements. If only a few spots need work, a simple repair may be in order. If the wood is dry, extensively cracked or warped, reroofing may be necessary. Some roofing contractors offer extensive wood repair, including retreating wood for fire and weather resistance. Be sure to balance the cost of repair against the remaining lifespan of the roof.
Roof damage is not always obvious from the outside. A comprehensive inspection also includes a trip to the attic or crawl-space. Look for dark water stains in rafters, sheathing, and insulation. With wooden roofs, you may notice light passing into the attic. Pin-holes are normal, as water normally swells the roof and closes the gaps. If you see signs of water leakage near pinholes, however, stick a piece of wire or pipe cleaner through the hole so you can inspect it closely from the rooftop.
Once the inspection is complete, you must decide whether to do the repair or reroofing work yourself, or hire a contractor. In the case of reroofing, labor typically adds 50-percent to the cost of the job. While saving half the cost of a new roof sounds nice, even hard-core do-it-yourselfers should beware: Roofing is a hot, tiring, difficult, and often hazardous job that requires stamina, coordination, and, in the case of some tile roofs, special skills and equipment. Bottom line: Pay a pro.
Next Section: Choosing the Right Roofing Contractor