We just completed what I think is the ultimate “do it yourself” project, reroofing our house. By “we”, you realize I really mean my husband right? In actuality, it was my husband, father, brother, and brother-in-law. But between those four men, they tore off two layers of roof and put on a new one in five days. While it was extremely hard work, there really wasn’t much hard about it. With the right tools and a good roofing book, you can roof your house yourself too.
There isn’t space to write a complete tutorial, but I wanted to give some tips to make roofing your house easier and I wanted to show you that it can be done by an average person. What might seem like a monumental task is really very doable. I also want to show how we saved money along the way and how that can add up to big savings in the end. Labor costs a lot and if you have the time it will be worth it to do it yourself.
The first thing you need is a dumpster; a large one. Any company you talk to will be able to tell you just how big you need for your size roof. We were right between two dumpster sizes, so we went with the larger size to make sure it would all fit. We could have easily used the smaller size and saved $20 though. Roofing materials are very flat. There is nothing bulky about them, therefore you can get away with a smaller dumpster than if you were throwing out kitchen cabinets or something else bulky. No matter how you look at it though, you need a dumpster, so call around to find the best prices in your area.
There are certain roofing tools that you should have to make your job easier. Some of these tools though, can’t be used for much else besides roofing. Try to borrow or buy secondhand the tools you need. We were able to borrow three shingle rakes to tear off the old roof and save $120 in the process.
We found that a couple of staple guns worked great in putting down the tar paper. A roofing hammer, while not that much different from a regular hammer, was very helpful. It is the right size to space the nails the right distance apart, saving lots of time along the way. They also have a larger head than a regular hammer making the nailing in go smoother. Look on Craigslist or ask around with friends and neighbors. They just might have what you need lying around. By using manual hammers rather than power hammers, we saved $240 over the weekend.
One of the best things we did to save money on the materials was to shop around. My husband made one trip to a roofing supply store to determine exactly what shingles we wanted. Then we called around and found the cheapest place. Having the shingles delivered right to your rooftop will save a lot of time and your back. It costs a little more but was very much worth it. Don’t just order exactly enough to cover your roof.
Have some extra delivered because shingles will need to be cut to fit certain areas and you will have some loss due to this. We ended up having to make a run to a more expensive store to get seven more packs of shingles, at $3 more per pack. Plan for extra and you will save money in the long run.
Having all the materials needed ahead of time will make the job go faster and will prevent extra runs to the hardware store. Buy more than you think you need, you can always return it later. Having to stop in the middle to go buy more nails will really slow you down. Check and double-check your measurements and keep in mind linear feet versus square feet so that you get enough of everything. Having plywood and 2 x 4s on hand to replace anything rotted will also make the work go faster.
Borrow or buy a large magnet (hardware stores carry them for about $15) to make nail collecting easier. Paying your children to pick up nails is optional of course, but don’t pay too much per nail or you will go broke. There are a lot of nails that will be flying all over your yard. A magnet will make finding them much easier. Plan to start early and take a long mid-day break. The sun will heat up the shingles to the point of scuffing easily when very hot. Resting during the hottest part of the day will prevent this scuffing from happening.
Ask around for tips and tricks ahead of time to try and be prepared for anything. Read as much as you can and talk to whoever you can – this will make things go much smoother. The more people you can recruit to help you the better. Roofing is a very physically demanding job, and the more people that you have roofing the easier it is for everyone involved. While physically hard, mentally it isn’t that hard to figure out. It is a step-by-step process that anyone can follow. In the end, we saved about $3000 roofing our house ourselves and it was totally worth it.
Honestly, I don’t think it could have gone much quicker if we had paid someone else to do it.