If you’re handy with tools and have some knowledge about construction, you might wonder, “Can I replace my roof myself?” Anyone with the right experience and resources can replace a roof, just like anyone with the supplies, tools and skill can build their own house. But there are several considerations to take into account if you’re hoping to replace your roof yourself.
Your Roof Is the Primary Protection for Your Home
Even with its solid foundation and well-constructed walls, your home can’t keep you safe and dry without a roof. The roof is the first point of contact for precipitation and wind, and it shelters the structure below it from the elements.
But the roof does more than keep you, your family and your possessions dry. It holds the structure of your home together, creating support for your ceilings, walls, lighting fixtures, plumbing and vents. The roofing materials and design also optimize the environment within the home, helping to insulate it and keep you comfortable.
A roof replacement should only be performed by someone with professional know-how. If you cut corners with materials or your installation process, you put your home and property at risk. Even a small mistake can generate major problems with leaks, pests, rot, structural damage and moisture issues. This is not a learn-as-you-go project.
Consider All of the Parts of Your Roof
Before you decide that the answer to “Can I replace my roof myself” is a yes, think about all of the components of your roof. In most cases, you’ll have to navigate different angles and slopes, protrusions and drainage systems, among other things.
When most people think about replacing their roof, the primary question that they consider is “What material do I want to use on my roof?” If your roof is old and you simply need to replace it without changing the appearance of your home, you might just choose the same material as is on there now. But advances in technology have produced many different roofing materials that can upgrade your home, provide more suitable outdoor WFH space, or enhance its sale value by supporting addition to the home.
Some materials are more appropriate than others for specific climates. For example, a metal roof is ideal for hurricane-prone areas, while a tile roof isn’t as well-suited for snowy weather. Therefore, you need enough knowledge about the materials to select the right one for your location.
But you also need the skills to install that material appropriately. Some types of roofing materials are much more complicated to install than others. For example, slate and metal are heavier and harder to install than asphalt shingles. You might need special expertise or tools. Make sure you know what you’re getting into if you decide to install a new roof yourself.
Roof Size and Slope
The bigger your roof is, the more material you’ll need to transport and install. You’ll need to make provisions for getting the material home and up to the roof. A larger roof will also take longer to install. For a DIY project, ensure that you have the resources to accomplish the job in a timely manner. Leaving your home exposed to the elements puts it at risk of sustaining damage.
The slope of your roof can make the job unsuitable for a DIY-er too. The risk of falling or dropping tools off of the roof increases with the steepness of the slope. It’s usually not safe for a homeowner with little roofing experience to work on a steep pitch. Professional roofers know how to use the appropriate safety measures to keep themselves and others safe during the project.
Have you ever noticed how many protrusions extend from the surface of your roof? Almost every roof has vents for the plumbing system. Other common protrusions include:
- Dormer windows
- Electrical conduits
Because these elements penetrate the roof, they create openings through which moisture and pests can enter. You must use adequate methods to install and seal these areas and prevent damage.
Rafters and Trusses
Rafters or trusses are the skeleton of the roof. They provide the structural support that holds up the rest of the roof. Usually constructed from 2-by-10s, 2-by-12s or 2-by-4s, rafters and trusses define the slope and shape of the roof.
Ideally, the roofing material protects the rafters from damage, and they should never have to be replaced. However, rafters should be inspected with every roof replacement. If you have experienced problems because your existing roof was damaged, you should check the rafters for deterioration.
Sheathing and Underlayment
The boards that attach to the rafters or trusses are called sheathing. These don’t always have to be replaced when you get a new roof. However, they do need to be inspected for deterioration or rot. Damaged boards should be replaced before installing the final roofing layer.
Underlayment is a layer of water‐resistant material that provides added security against moisture damage. Understanding which type of underlayment is optimal for your roof allows you to protect your investment. All underlayment materials are not created equal, and a professional roofer will make the best recommendation for your roof design and material.
Permits and Codes
No matter who replaces your roof, they’ll need to pull a permit and follow all regulations and codes that pertain to this type of construction. For a full roof replacement, structural work or extensive repairs, you typically need a building permit. However, you wouldn’t need a permit to replace a few shingles.
Every county may have different requirements. Therefore, it’s essential that you contact your city or county office to learn more about building permit requirements before initiating the project.
The person or company who is responsible for performing the work should obtain the permit. If you hire a roofing contractor, they’ll take care of pulling the permit. However, a homeowner who plans to replace the roof themselves will need to go through the permitting process.
But here’s the kicker–for jobs that cost more than $2,500, a permit is generally issued only to a licensed contractor. Therefore, it would be difficult for a homeowner to get the permit on their own anyway.
Understanding and following all permitting requirements is crucial. If you don’t have the proper permit and an inspector stops by during the replacement process, they could put a stop to the work. This could leave your home exposed to the elements for a significant amount of time if you have already started the project.
Can I DIY Roof Repairs?
There is a lot to think about when you start researching the answer to the question, “Can I replace my roof myself?” You want to make sure that you can complete the project in a safe, methodical and effective manner. Plus, the roof should be replaced within a day or two to avoid as much exposure to the elements as possible. Finally, safety is a primary concern.
If you just have a few repairs to make, you might be able to take care of them yourself with a little knowledge and experience. However, you shouldn’t take on an extensive roofing project unless you’re a professional. An experienced, licensed and insured roofer will take care of the job from start to finish, including planning, obtaining permits and using the materials and installation methods that will help you get the most out of your roof.