A roofing contractor installing shingles on a roof top.

DIY Roofing – Is It Worth It?

DIY home improvement projects and repairs make sense but they are not always the right choice. Roofing is one of those projects best left to experienced and trusted professionals. It is an investment and not where you should be pinching pennies. Let’s consider some things. For example, the number of things that could go wrong should you take on roofing yourself.

KNOWLEDGE

As a homeowner, learning to fix problems around the house is great. You save money and gain experience. However, for a major job like roof installation or replacement, watching video tutorials and reading “how-to” books will not exactly prepare you, educate you, nor keep you safe. Professional roofing contractors undergo certified safety training. They have access to lifesaving safety equipment. Contractors are educated about all aspects of roofing. They also usually have years of experience!

Homes in different conditions need different roofing materials, finishes, and coatings. Certain tools and techniques are needed for proper installation. They may not be available to you nor are safe to use. Even after self-education, you may find yourself left with many questions. Understanding what materials are best for your home, knowing what questions to ask at the home improvement store, and how to begin the first steps, can be a daunting start to your already difficult project.

SAFETY

Besides lack of knowledge, the biggest concern is your safety. Roofing jobs are extremely difficult and dangerous. Even for experienced professionals, roof work has an injury risk that is 5.9 percent greater than other jobs, with a fatality rate of 29.4 per 100,000. Research shows that one-third of all construction fatalities are the result of falls from roofs (Andrew Lisa, DIY Roof Repairs Almost Always End in Disaster. Here’s Why to Avoid Them, EIEI Home).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 43 percent of all fatal falls involve a ladders. According to the National Safety Council, over 6,000 Americans are killed each year due to falls from roofs or ladders (Writer, Why DIY Roofing is Not Recommended, Winter Springs Roofing & Repair). Other hazards include heights, deep sloping surfaces, poor weather conditions, and power tools (Why You Shouldn’t DIY Your New Roof, Nu Look Home Design Inc.) You also don’t have to fall from high to get into serious trouble.

EXAMPLE

Keep in mind that injuries can worsen and medical bills can pile up. In a 2016 article, a roofing professional recalls a story about a man who suffered a fall from his roof while working on it himself. He broke both bones in one of his legs. An infection caused doctors to make the decision to amputate his leg (Jerry Becker, Jerry Talks DIY Disaster Stories, Roof Life of Oregon). Another man decided to repair his roof on his own after receiving a quote from professionals he could not afford. This is completely understandable. However, what started as a few shingles that needed replacement turned into a mildew problem that caused a rancid smell throughout his home due to improper roof installation. Fixing this problem ended up being far more expensive that it originally was.

LONG TERM ISSUES

Which leads me to my next point – getting your roofing wrong the first time can lead to various, greater, and more expensive problems for your home. Do not choose a short term fix with serious long-term financial consequences. Just because you cannot always see your roof, does not mean the problems are not there. Structural failures on the roof can lead to water and weather damage in the ceilings and throughout your home. There is also a direct correlation between the integrity of your roof and the energy efficiency of your home (Andrew Lisa, DIY Roof Repairs Almost Always End in Disaster. Here’s Why to Avoid Them, EIEI Home).

Professionals’ experience come into play the most when identifying a problem, its source, and solution. Homeowners may see a problem and fix it on the surface but there could be a serious underlying problem that will only worsen if not addressed right away. For example, once water finds its way into your home, it will continue to create damage which could lead to mold, rot, and even structure failure. A poor roof job can also be tough to look at and decrease the value of your home. The roof is not the first place people look, but a bad roof job will almost never go unnoticed.

COST

Now let’s understand the major reason a homeowner would choose a DIY option – cost. Saving is always the more attractive option. But are you really saving with all of the potential risks both financially and physically? Materials are warrantied by manufacturers. But many warranties are voided if work is not done by a professional contractor. You will have to pay out of pocket to replace them. Some home insurance companies will not cover damages to your home if work was not completed by a certified contractor.

Professional roofing companies have the appropriate insurance to protect their employees such as workers’ compensation and liability insurance (Writer, Why DIY Roofing is Not Recommended, Winter Springs Roofing & Repair). Will you be covered by your healthcare plan if you suffer an injury and have to take time off work? Are you financially prepared?

IS IT WORTH IT?

So is it worth it? The answer is probably not. Professional roofing contractors are able to provide certifications, warranties, inspections, quality work, and more value for your buck. By hiring a professional, you are saving yourself stress and the risk of injuries. You are saving money on potential medical bills and time off work. You are saving possibly severe future damage to your home and an ugly roofing job. The cost savings on materials and labor are not worth the financial risks that can arise in the future. Invest in your home by hiring a qualified and experienced professional.