Falling dreams have given us all a good scare. One second you’re plummeting to earth, the next you’re in bed, heart pounding like a piston.

Unfortunately, when duty calls and a roof needs repairs, inexperienced homeowners all too often turn those dreams into reality. If you feel like roofing is way over your head, Our House is here to set your shingles straight.

First and foremost, we can’t stress enough that no homeowner should attempt roof repairs without the proper equipment and know-how. Lacking those key prerequisites, you’re liable to damage one of your home’s most valuable assets (and yourself) in the process. Roofing is a hazardous job, even for professionals. Roofers are three times more likely to suffer injury than those in other divisions in the construction industry.1 An inexperienced amateur takes on the responsibility at his or her own risk. If you really want to contribute and even save a few bucks DIY-style, tackle repainting any water-stained sections of your interior ceilings and walls. It’s a safer project that will allow you to put your own touch on the parts of your home you see every day.

And speaking of those water stains, it’s important to know what to look for in order to avoid the worst roofing related issues. The clearest signs of roof dysfunction are stain spots precipitated by the pooling of moisture from leaks. Unfortunately, by the time most homeowners notice these telltale signs, the damage is already extensive. In extreme cases, that moisture can prompt Black Mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) to grow and feed off of common building materials like drywall and insulation.2 Any mold species’ spores can be detrimental to human health, especially those of this highly sensationalized variety. Prolonged exposure can cause respiratory and eye irritation in the average healthy person. Those with mold allergies or suppressed immune systems are at even greater risk for infection.3 Your best defense is proactive inspection and a sharp set of eyes. Check out these exterior roof warning signs and interior tips from Angie’s List, and if you do spot a problem, don’t wait to call. More moisture will only make matters worse.

Whether for upkeep or aesthetics, there’s no shortage of roofing materials available if you do decide to have a new one installed. Over the years, as metal roofs have moved from the warehouse to the ranch house, a format war has been brewing in the industry. Traditional asphalt shingles are still the material of choice for new construction, but these old standbys are losing market share to metal roofing products. Metal roofing comes with distinct pros and cons vis-à-vis classic shingles. Metal products often carry warranties that are decades longer than their asphalt counterparts, and some can even save you up to 25% in energy costs according to the Department of Energy.4 Traditional asphalt’s biggest advantage is its price point. The most familiar “three-tab” style is many times cheaper and makes for a quicker install.5

Metal may be gaining ground, but traditional shingles aren’t without innovations of their own. So-called “Architectural” shingles are the market’s most popular choice today. In this style, shingle tabs of differing sizes and shapes are installed to create a more sophisticated, dimensional and textured look.6 There are even designer shingles available that can mimic rarer materials like slate and cedar wood shake. In this sea of choice, it’s best to partner with a contractor who can help you make an informed choice. Ask if your provider has any digital applications that can model the finished product, or if they can put you in touch with a designer for an extra helping hand.

The most important choice of the entire roofing process is selecting a professional partner whom you can trust to treat the roof over your head like his or her own. Our best advice is to do your homework. Never neglect to ask the following:

  • Is your company insured? How so?
  • What are the specifics of your work’s warranty?
  • Do you have a written contract drawn up? What are its provisions?

When it comes to a service like roofing, nothing speaks louder than results. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations. If you need further guidance, you can always turn to the Greater Birmingham Association of Homebuilders. With the right professional partner, no roofing project will ever be over your head.

1 https://www.phpsd.com/blog/8-shocking-roof-safety-statistics-you-won-t-believe

2 https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/interior-remodel/black-mold-symptoms-and-health-effects

3 https://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm

4 https://www.angieslist.com/articles/are-metal-roofs-better-shingles.htm

5 http://www.telegraphherald.com/news/business/article_8d6429f3-5653-5e02-8a4e-0fb3690b72c7.html

6 https://www.roofpedia.com/architectural-shingles-vs-3-tab-shingles/