Before you decide to be the family handyman and do a roofing job yourself, the first question to ask is: “Do I really need a new roof?” It’s a good idea to inspect your roof regularly, but safety should always be your top priority. If you have concerns about accessing your roof safely, contact a roofing professional to assist you.
If you decide to inspect for damage yourself, look for signs of problems like leaks in the attic, peeling paint on the inside or outside of the house, stains or mold on the ceiling and walls, and missing shingles. Also, check out the gutters. They should always be kept clean.
If you see signs that the roof needs repair or replacement, then you have two choices: call a local roof installation contractor or do it yourself. Here are the pros and cons if you choose to walk up that ladder.
Pros of DIY Roofing:
- It can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you have the right skills and knowledge to do the job.
- You can schedule the work on your time and not have to worry about the hours or conflicting with your family calendar.
Cons of DIY Roofing:
- It’s a very long-term commitment. With the amount of time you will invest in doing the work, it may make more sense to hire a contractor. Plus, if you work full time, you can kiss your weekends goodbye until you get the job done (the beach will have to wait). This is a good time to decide whether spending the time on the job is worth saving the money.
- Tools can be expensive. You may think you’ll save on labor, but if you don’t already have the tools, you may end up using a big chunk of your budget to purchase the right equipment and gear to get the job done. Plus, once the roofing work is complete, you may never need to use the tools again.
- It’s a dangerous job. Roofing requires climbing up and down a ladder carrying heavy materials. Plus, if you have any fear of heights, reconsider now. You need to be comfortable and steady on your feet, as falls can lead to death or serious injuries. There is also the potential risk that comes from roofing in the rain or other inclement weather that could be better left to the pros.
- It requires strength and endurance. There is a great deal of physical labor involved with roofing: climbing up on the roof, lugging shingles and other gear, and tearing off shingles, which alone can be grueling. It also requires sitting up in the hot sun for hours, which is not for the faint of heart.
- There is no warranty coverage for damage caused by improper application or installation. If something does go wrong and results in a leak, you may end up having to hire a contractor to fix your mistake.
Some people think a roof installation is just throwing up some shingles, but it is very complex and involves many components that help keep the roof secure. A good contractor takes years to acquire roofing skills, including how to handle the materials, how to keep safe, and how to follow proper procedures.
If you do decide to roof yourself (if this article hasn’t deterred you yet), a number of important safety tips are listed below. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and you should always be sure to do your research before undertaking a DIY Roofing Project. Here are some of the most important considerations:
- Make sure your work area is clean and organized.
- Keep children and pets away from the area.
- Identify and avoid danger areas such as power lines.
- Never work on a wet roof.
- Wear proper shoes—get soft-soled boots for the best traction.
- Use a safety harness, net, or guardrails—especially on a steep-pitched roof.
- Always wear a helmet in case of a fall.
- Properly set up your ladder. Put it on level ground and tie it at the top.
- Climb the ladder safely. Always face the ladder and climb one rung at a time. Don’t carry too much and make sure you don’t have to reach or stretch too far from the ladder.
- Clean up at the end of the day. Take away all tools and ladders even though it’s tedious. It’s safer than leaving it out where children can get to it.
- Stay away from electrical wires and boxes. Enough said!
- Wear proper eye protection. Nails can easily fly back and cause injury.
- Don’t use damaged tools. If a tool is broken, get a new one. It’s not worth risking injury.
- Take care when lifting or carrying. Roofing contractors are experienced in lugging heavy items and their bodies are in shape for it. Amateur or novice roofers should listen to their bodies and protect themselves by bending at the knees, not the back.
Good luck if you decide to take on your own roofing project. If you realize that hiring a contractor is the best way to go, find a GAF certified roofing contractor near you.