Roof renovation. Roof cover replacement or repair?

Roof renovation is a huge cost and a complicated undertaking, which is why many investors try to avoid it, confining themselves to immediate repairs. Before you make a decision, consider whether it will be more profitable to repair the cover or replace the cover with a completely new one

Replacing the cover (material and labor) costs from $31.73 to $81.10/ m2  (for roofing tiles). It is quite a lot. Also, logistical problems during the renovation of the roof – moving out of the attic, protecting it against rainfall, transporting dismantled materials – can be discouraging. Hence the temptation to make temporary repairs to delay the renovation of the roof a bit. Let’s check when repairs will save you from the roof renovation, and when the roof renovation will be more profitable.

Inspection before roof renovation

In order not to make a mistake in the assessment, it is worth asking a professional – a roofer or even a constructor for help if you are afraid that the condition of the roof truss is unsatisfactory. You will also discover many things yourself:

  • check where the roof is leaking – by observing, for example, damp patches on the sloping and attic ceiling, you will locate damage to the roofing – broken tiles or bent roofing sheet – and check the degree of damage;
  • you notice damage to the gutters – when they are torn by the snow sliding off the roof, or you see icicles hanging on the joints in winter – they indicate leaks at the gutter joint;
  • you will notice any kind of discoloration or dirt on the cover;
  • you will notice deflection, cracking, twisting of the wooden elements of the roof truss when visiting the attic. Such damage may also be noticeable from the side of the covering – when you can see the places where the roof collapses.

The roofer will help you check the condition of the flashings. It will test the tightness of the ventilation space under the cover and help locate the leak more accurately.

The constructor will spot any shortcomings of the truss and issue a construction opinion. In it, he will assess whether the old truss is still load-bearing and whether it will bear the new covering, for example with a greater weight.

Roof repair – what can be improved

Often, it is enough to disassemble a part of the cover to get to the flashing, and then replace or disassemble it and re-arrange it, but now it is correct. Such a simple procedure will end problems with a leaking roof and you will not need to replace the cover with a new one. When the roof is finished with tiles, it will be easy to replace a few damaged ones with new ones, although there is a fear that they will stand out from the others, more faded or dirty. 

Sheet metal cover can be temporarily patched, for example with special sealing tapes. However, it is always only a postponement of a major roof renovation. The roof renovation can of course be cleaned and sometimes also painted. You can also strengthen the truss without dismantling the cover, although it is sometimes not easy. Of course, this applies to those buildings whose attics are not usable and there is good access to the rafter framing from there.

Cover replacement – when is it worth it?

It is always expensive, but still, it pays off very often. First of all, the house looks better, especially when the old covering has lost its original charm. When replacing the cover, you can also change a lot in the roof, which will also be beneficial for the functionality of the attic. During the roof renovation, damaged, worn-out, or obsolete roof elements can be replaced, for example, rigid roofing insulated with heat-sealable felt can be replaced with a waterproofing made of a modern highly vapor-permeable membrane. It is also a great opportunity to check the condition of the thermal insulation material.

Roof insulation

After removing the cover or disassembling the cladding in the attic, you will be able to add an additional layer of insulation or replace the old insulation with a new one with better parameters. It is worth adding insulation material, especially on rafters or stiff sheathing. 

A thin (5-8 cm) layer of polyurethane or extruded polystyrene laid from the outside will significantly improve the thermal insulation of the roof. Removing the cover is also a rare chance to move the roof windows higher or lower if the height at which they have been so far having not been hit. It is also convenient to install skylights in those places where the attic is too dark. The replacement of the cover may also be accompanied by the repair or reconstruction of the chimney.

Repair of the roof truss

Sometimes the roof renovation does not end with the repair or replacement of the covering, because the problem lies deeper under the covering and concerns the roof truss. Repair may be limited to strengthening the damaged elements, but often, such as, for example, during an attack by a fungus, it ends with the replacement of the entire truss or its large fragments. 

Such a major renovation may be an incentive to change the height of the attic or the geometry of the roof. After all, you can raise the roof to adapt the low attic to residential purposes or increase the slope angle. There is also a possibility of adding a dormer. However, each of the examples mentioned will require a redevelopment project. Any repair work within the truss should be carried out by professional contractors and after consultation with the constructor.

Another article on this blog that may interests you:

Roof Restoration: Classification of Roof Leaks