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Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Do-It Yourselfer

This morning I spent a couple of hours helping a neighbor shingle their roof.

Last year, Sandy and I realized that our roof is about 20 years old and it is starting to weather. Many of the shingles have cracked and worn edges, there is some cupping on some of them, and they are generally worn. So we decided to replace them.

We had a couple of companies come out and give estimates.

Gary Kline Roofing $5440 - $6540
KW Billman $5975 - $6720

After I saw that, I decided that perhaps I should re-shingle the roof myself. After all, I have successfully fixed the following appliances at our home:

Refrigerator (multiple times)
Garbage Disposal
Numerous electrical projects

I also have drywalled and sheet-rocked bathrooms, installed many doors, and replaced parts on the car. I have installed new lighting fixtures and bath fans which required me figuring out how to do things I had not done before.

On top of what I feel is a fair amount of proven work, I also feel that I have other assets that make me a good candidate to complete this project successfully--patience and time.

I have read through a couple of roofing books from the library and done research on how a roof should be reshingled. From the get-go, I did not want to cut corners. I never wanted to just shingle over what is there, and I have researched shingles enough to know that Owens Corning Duration shingles with the SureNail strip (shown at right) is an excellent choice for me.

So this morning when I headed over to my neighbors to help out, it was because I wanted to see someone actually putting them on. After all I have read I realize that the most difficult and time consuming part of shingling a roof is the part you do not see. The tear off, the proper application of weather underlayment for our cold climate, and the installation of new flashing and ridge vents. There are videos devoted to showing how much not doing these things properly can screw up your roof, and I am determined to get that part right. But I also have felt a little daunted by the task of actually nailing down the shingles. I want to get them in a straight line, I want to make sure that the corners and sides of the roof are straight, etc. So I wanted to see how that was done.

From what I could see, it could not be simpler, the guy doing the work (a friend of a friend of the homeowner) didn't even snap chalklines. New "architectural" shingles used today do not require careful layout, as the only thing that the installer seemed concerned with was making sure that he did not use less than a 4 inch wide shingle, and making sure that he laid the singles on fairly straight. At certain points, around ridges and valleys, he was careful to weave the shingles together so that they laid down nicely, but what he did totally matched up with how the books (and each pack of shingles) show you to do it. I asked him a few questions relating to the width of shingles used and some technical questions about his equipment--the fact that he used a gas powered air compressor made the work faster--but the moment that he learned (from me) that I was a budding do-it yourselfer, was the moment that I started getting razzed for wanting to do it myself. The following things were mentioned:

  • That because he did it they would have a warranty. This is false, as the warranty plainly states "Installation must be in accordance with our written installation instructions." The warranty does not say that a certified roofer has to do it.
  • That he got them the shingles cheaper.
  • That I had to include the cost of the other materials (nails, equipment rental, etc..)
What he did NOT mention was the fact that he could do it better or that it would look nicer when it was done.

So here I sit. With last year's quote of $6000 (which he said would be higher because the cost of shingles has risen) staring at me from one side, and our need to purchase some new energy efficient appliances, recover a couch, and take a trip to New York on the other side.

The one thing that I am considering is having some people help me tear the old roof off, as by the homeowner's admission that was the hardest part. Also, having someone help to unpackage the shingles and lay them out for install would be helpful. For the task of installing the shingles however, I am undaunted. This will just be another notch in my do-it yourselfers belt.