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Roofing 101

June 30 2008

Depending on what corner of the country you call home, your roof protects you against rain, sleet, snow, sun, the odd errant fly ball and just about everything else. Yet one thing you can be sure of is that sooner or later, your home will need a new first line of defense from the weather.

man and woman on roof

When your home reaches the point of needing roof repair, take a good look to see if a simple patch job will do or if your home needs some professional TLC. If the supporting surface under the shingles is in good condition, an effective patch job can prolong the life of the existing roof for a few years.  So when in doubt, pull up the existing surface to get a better sense of what’s happening underneath. However at some point, your roof will need to be fully replaced. Depending on where you live and the materials of the existing structure, your home will require a new roof every 15-25 years.

Have a closer look

If heights aren’t your thing, grab a pair of binoculars and give your roof a thorough once-over from the lawn. Are there patches where shingles have blown off? Are the edges starting to lift? Are there patches that are clearly distinguishable from the rest of the shingles? This may indicate that the roof’s protective coating has begun to break down—a sign of overall wear and that patching may leave your home susceptible to leaks, moisture build-up or other complications down the road.

If you’re okay with heights and don’t have to climb several stories, grab a ladder and go in for a closer inspection. Look for wear and tear around junctions or chimneys. Are there any sections that are raised and clearly disjunctive from the existing shingles? If so, that’s a good hint that you could have some moisture collecting underneath and that the roof may require replacing.

Other considerations

Before deciding whether to tackle the project yourself or to farm out the job to professionals, get a firm understanding of your climate. Houses in the Midwest will require a much different roof than those in southern California. Both require their own set of materials and specific building code regulations.

If you’re not sure about your roof’s current state of repair, building inspectors and contractors are good places to start. They’ll give you a sense of where you stand with your roofing project.

Considerations such as color and style will vary based in individual taste but are important to decide upon at the onset when setting a budget. Additionally, the estimated life span and manufacturer of the shingle and accompanying guarantee are worthy considerations that can add value to your home.

Also, as with all home renovations, get at least three written project estimates from different roofing companies to ensure you’re receiving the best possible price and quality of service. If in doubt, ask a neighbor who recently completed a similar project.