Is DIY a Good Idea? The Story of the Roof

Should you DIY for a roof replacement? What about just a few shingles?  In short, NO.  And I usually support do-it-yourself stuff because you won’t get ripped off by a contractor that way, and you’ll learn about your home’s maintenance. But in the case of roofing, you should leave that to the professionals.  And why is that? Glad you asked…

I got a call last week to replace some shingles on a 10/12 pitch roof. A roof of that pitch is like a barn roof almost, you have to wear a harness and almost rappel down the side. The job took 6 hours and 2 of those hours were safety prep work before I could even get up on that roof. Most people can’t walk a 10/12 pitch roof (which makes me pretty awesome that I can), but unless you’ve got your roofing legs, you will fall. Probably break your neck, too. It’s dangerous.

The 10/12 pitch roof I was on. Pretty damn steep.

If you don’t have your roofing legs, you just shouldn’t go on a roof. Especially a roof with a steep pitch, it’s very hard to walk up there. Harder than it looks.

When working with shingles, if you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing, you can completely compromise the integrity of the shingle you’re cutting into. There’s a specific knife blade you need and you absolutely got to know what you’re doing. A compromised shingle means roof leaks or mold problems (or both) depending on how bad you did the job.

The shingles on this particular house needed repairing and so did the roof vents. Roof vents are another thing that a homeowner shouldn’t even attempt to do. You’ve got to know exactly where and how to cut these vents or you’ll ruin the integrity of your roof shingles.

Roof vents are in two places. One place is in the soffit of a house (by the eve that hangs over the house. I talked all about moldy soffits in a previous post, remember?). These roof vents allow air to come in, and the air travels through the attic, and out the roof vents on top of the attic.

A lot of people think that putting insulation by those soffit vents or attic roof vents will make your heating/cooling more efficient, and they’re right. But if you’re attic can’t breathe properly with an air flow, you will have a serious mold problem in not too long. So don’t put insulation in the way of the vents. The attic air should be the same temperature as the air outside, not colder or hotter. If there’s snow on your roof and it’s melting faster than your neighbor’s snow, then you’ve got a ventilation problem in your attic.

Cutting shingles and making the roof vents is careful business, you’ve got to know what you’re doing or you’ll end up with a slow leak (or a fast one, depending on how much you suck).

Bonus sidebar for you satellite dish people: When you get a satellite dish put on your house, you should always ask the contractor how they’re going to anchor the dish to your house. Ask them how they’re going to ensure that the roof doesn’t leak. Some installation guys will just screw the dish right into the roof! They put no sealant on the screws and then about 5  years later there’s a leaky roof. And actually, homeowners should ask the contractor for picture proof that they installed the dish properly. Contractors should have no problem doing that with the phone cameras these days.

So what’s the lesson today kids? Let the professionals do it when you’re dealing with roofing, or I will reach through the computer and smack you.



Is DIY a Good Idea? The Story of the Roof — 22 Comments

  1. I would never try to fix my own roof. I would definitely want a professional to make sure leaks etc won’t happen.

    I think things like fences should be done by professionals too. We have to get ours redone because the previous house owners did it themselves and didn’t sink the stakes in properly. Now they lift all of the time and we have to redo it.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..Reader Question: How Much Money Do I Need To Buy My First Home?My Profile

    • At least with DIY fences, you won’t fall and break your neck. But yeah, that sucks, sort of an unexpected thing, huh? Re-doing other people’s poor work is really a drag. But hey, now you’ve learned more than you ever wanted to know about fencing!

  2. Oh my goodness. I wish I had found you years ago!!

    My dad is an electrician, mechanic, handyman, do-it-yourselfer. When our roof literally fell apart (think: walking across the roof and landing in the attic), we decided to replace it. OURSELVES.

    Yes, my dad knew a lot from working construction, but he’s not a roofer. There’s a fine line between too many vents in the soffits and too little. Can you imagine — too much ventilation? Now, here we are five years later, and there’s a slight mold issue that the inspector says stems from the roof. Well, the shingles may have a 40 year warranty but the house doesn’t. :(

    I AGREE COMPLETELY. Let the roofing professionals do it.
    Kaylan @ Thirty-two Dollars recently posted..Making Decisions: Risk vs. RewardMy Profile

  3. My boyfriend is a carpenter and he’s always complaining of people DIY’ing themselves into debt. They do it, and they do it wrong so they have to get somebody else to fix it at twice the cost. There are certain things to leave to the professionals.

    • I didn’t know your boyfriend was a carpenter, sounds like a good guy. :-) He’s absolutely correct in what he says! Hey , if he ever wants to try his hand at blog writing, he can always do a guest post for me!

  4. Pingback: Friday Follies: Headed To Sultry Savannah | The Millionaire Nurse Blog

  5. I’m a DIY guy as I love renovating and fixing on my own but there are some things I won’t bother with. There is no way I would tackle the roof on my own. Our neighbours down the road decided to do their own roof and that turned into a giant disaster. What a waste of money and a big reason why you should call a pro.

    By the end of summer they had professionals in to re-do it all. I’m sorry but if you have no idea what you are doing and it’s a project that is a large investment call in the pros. Good Post… shared on FB! Cheers Mr.CBB
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..How Much Should My Grocery Budget Be?My Profile

  6. Pingback: Beginning of Summer Blog Update | Modest Money

  7. Pingback: Mr.CBB’s Weekly Blog Post Picks June 29,2012 « Canadian Budget Binder

  8. Semi-Demi-Exboyfriend used to like to get up on the roof and patch the asphalt shingles. His roof never leaked, but gosh, he’d scare the ess aitch aye out of me tromping around on that pitched roof.

    Mike the Bosnian Godfather, one of the world’s all-time great tile-layers, climbed up on his roof to dork around with something — the AC, I think — and he fell off. Mercifully, he didn’t hit his head…the doctor said if he had, it probably would have killed him. He did manage to shatter his ankle, though. A year later, he still couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for hauling boxes of tile and a heavy tile saw around.

    Fortunately, his empire (the guy is astonishing!) extends into real estate. By the time this happened, he had purchased a small apartment building and a couple of rental houses here, plus two properties in Bosnia, one of which was his vacation villa and the other of which was an income property. And his son was in a position to run the business, at least for a while.

    Mike is a pretty gifted all-around craftsman and could be expected to know what he was doing. All it takes is one unguarded moment… Good reason for those of us who haven’t a clue to stay off the roof!
    Funny about Money recently posted..New Arcadia Door Curtains: $75!My Profile

  9. Pingback: Sometimes You Have to Do Scary Things | Blue Collar Workman

  10. Pingback: Fixing a Skylight Leak | Blue Collar Workman

  11. We agree with several of the other posted comments – small, minor repair jobs make sense for DIY projects, but major roof work and repair is best left to the pros. Either way, safety is key…we see too homeowners get injured or hurt because they don’t take the required precautions a/o use the right tools.
    Orlando Roofing recently posted..Hello world!My Profile

  12. You’re absolutely right! Anyone can put singles up on a roof. However, there are many factors that go into a roof including flashing around chimneys, ridge vents, intake Ventes, roof to wall flashing, step flashing, and tieing in flat roofs to a shingled roof or doing valleys. If done incorrectly, these little mistakes cost big bucks.

  13. A few of my shingles are starting to cup, and I have a 12 pitch roof. Ive crawled on it a few times shaky as all get out. At 62 years of age, my idiotic mind thought there might be a trick and I wanted to know how to do it. You probably saved me from a broken leg, neck, or my life. Thanks for bringing me back to sanity. I’ll let a pro handle it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge