Protect the outside and the inside of the house, and tear off only what you can reroof in a day.
Synopsis: Replacing the roof on an occupied home can be a scary prospect. Exposing the roof sheathing to the elements is risky, especially if all the shingles are off the roof and a summer storm brews up suddenly. Roofing contractor Stephen Hazlett has a better way to manage reroofing jobs. By tearing off only what can be reroofed in a day, Hazlett doesn’t have to rely on the thin promise of a tarp to keep a home safe overnight in the event of inclement weather. Hazlett’s methodical system involves checking weather reports and managing the workflow with an efficient crew. This article includes a sidebar about the proper way to repair and replace chimney flashing.
I am a roofing contractor by trade and a problem solver by nature. The biggest problem I solve every day is how to tear the roof safely off an occupied home and install a new roof while protecting the interior, the siding, the landscaping, the windows and doors, and the neighbors’ property. I don’t have a secret, esoteric process for quick, safe, foolproof tearoffs, but planning and meticulous efficiency come as close as possible. I carry a big tarp behind the seat of my truck to cover the house with, but thankfully, I’ve never had to use it.
On second thought, maybe there is a secret to this type of work: Don’t tear off more than you can reroof quickly, and keep a big tarp handy.
The most important tool is information
When planning a roof replacement, a lot of information should be gathered in advance: roof pitch, type of decking, number of existing layers of roofing, the history of roof leaks, and the way leaks were resolved.
Writing the proposal is the next step in planning the workflow. I break down the project into a logical progression: what my crew and I can accomplish each day. In doing this, I take into account ladder and scaffolding placements, access for dump and delivery trucks, and electrical-outlet locations. The most-important things I look for are where the old roof debris is going to land and how I can avoid damaging the siding, the landscaping, the awnings, and the lawn.
When I measure roof area, I confirm the thickness of the roof decking so that I’ll have patch stock on hand. In my area, many of the homes built in the ’20s were sheathed in #2 southern yellow pine. This 3⁄4-in.-thick decking tends to hold up better than the 3⁄8-in. or 1⁄2-in. plywood sheathing used in houses built in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
Some roofing contractors prefer to have materials delivered to the rooftop after the old roofing has been torn off, but I have materials delivered at least a day before work starts. We enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing we have everything we need on site before the first shingle is torn off.
Because every project we do involves an occupied home, weather always is a concern. The morning a reroof is scheduled to begin, I start tracking the weather at 5:30 a.m. I make a “go” or a “no-go” decision by 7 a.m., based on the size and complexity of the roof, the size of the crew, and the rain’s estimated time of arrival.
If the job is a go, I notify the crew between 7 a.m. and 7:15 a.m., and we are on site by 8. If I decide the project is a no-go, I notify the homeowner that the project has been postponed.
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