How Hard Would It Be to Replace Your Own Roof?

Roofing is one of the toughest jobs construction. In this article, we explore what it takes to replace your own roof. Keep reading to find out if you're fit for this big project.
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Reviewed by JC Sanjuan — General and roofing contractor with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial construction. He specializes in project management, quality workmanship, client satisfaction, and solving roofing challenges.

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Roof replacement is one of the most expensive home improvements for homeowners, and you can’t afford to ignore it.

Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing type for homes and many businesses in the United States. They typically last 15-30 years if they are well-maintained. However, they will naturally dry out and break down over time. As a result, you eventually will need a roof replacement after they reach their life expectancy.

Replacing your roof is something you can actually do yourself. Many homeowners have done it themselves.

However, it takes a lot of work and requires specific steps. If your roof is not installed properly, it will fail, leading to leaks and damaging your home.

A DIY roof replacement job should not be taken on by anyone other than roof installers or construction professionals.

Nonetheless, if you are considering a do-it-yourself roof replacement, keep all the following information in mind before you start tearing off your roof.

Today, we will explore the ins and outs of DIY roof replacement, what you need to reroof your house, and the steps to follow. We will also touch on price and answer some frequently asked questions.

Benefits of Replacing your Own Roof

Saving on costs

One of the biggest and notable advantages of doing your roofing project yourself is that it can save you a lot of cash. You can cut down labor costs by doing the work yourself, which can be especially helpful if you’re working with a tight budget.

For example, just on labor, you’re looking at saving 30% of the total cost. So, for a typical  $9,000 roof replacement job, you could save up to $2,700. This is without including supervision costs, overhead, and markups, which can be another 20% to 25%.

Sense of accomplishment

Another benefit is the sense of accomplishment. When you complete a DIY roofing project, it can make you feel proud. Watching your new roof come together, knowing you did it yourself, is a source of pride and satisfaction.

According to a survey, 89% of respondents agree that working on DIY projects provides a high level of satisfaction and personal fulfillment. Roof replacement is no exception, offering a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Control over the Project

Doing it yourself also gives you full control over the roofing project. You can decide on everything, from choosing materials to scheduling the work. It’s all in your hands, following your preferences and priorities.

Gain new skills

Replacing your own roof can give you a chance to learn more about your house as well as acquire new skills. You would learn about roofing, construction, and safety practices. This knowledge might come in handy for future projects, like minor repairs and home improvement tasks.

Flexibility

Doing your own roof replacement means you can work at your own pace. You have the flexibility to plan the project around your schedule and availability.

For instance, if you hire a roofing contractor, they may have work on their schedule, perhaps waiting months before the work gets done. This may not always fit your needs or convenience. With DIY roofing, you can set your timeline and make sure the project fits into your daily life.

Drawbacks of Replacing your Own Roof

Safety risks

DIY roofing is dangerous as you will be working at heights. Falls, injuries, and accidents can occur, making safety precautions a top priority. Without proper training and safety measures, the risk is even higher.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), roofing is one of the most dangerous construction jobs. Injuries and fatalities from falls are common, so professional safety measures are a must.

Steep learning curve

Roof replacement is not as simple as other home improvement projects. The learning curve can be steep for some, and mistakes can be costly. Moreover, if the installation work is not done properly, it may lead to leaks and other issues.

Time-consuming

DIY roof replacement is time-consuming. Depending on the size and complexity of your roof, the project can take several weeks to complete.

Uncertainty

Unless you’re an experienced roofer, there’s an element of uncertainty in a DIY roof replacement project.

It involves many steps, and you could find surprises along the way, like discovering some serious structural damage to the roof after you strip off the old shingles.

A lack of experience in identifying and addressing such issues can lead to high costs later on, highlighting the uncertainty of DIY roofing.

What Do I need to Replace my Roof?

working men on roof replacement
Credit Bouillante

DIY roof replacement helps save you thousands of dollars in labor costs. But the material, tools, and safety equipment costs add up, too.

Physical strength

The first thing required for DIY roof replacement is the ability to work on heights.

Test yourself by climbing on your roof and safely walking around. If you find this difficult, replacing your own roof is not a good option.

Second, make sure you have carpentry experience and are equipped with demo work, cutting, and fastening tools. Thirdly, make sure you are fit. This type of work requires strength to lift heavy materials such as underlayments, roofing cements, and bundles of shingles up the ladder.

The savings from doing your roof replacement are not worth any long-term injury, so be careful and honest before you undertake the project.

Permits

Some roofing projects require local building codes and regulations. Depending on where you live, you may need a building permit from your city.

In some parts of the country, if you work without a construction permit, it can result in legal troubles and costly fines. A roofing permit helps the municipality ensure that the work you are doing complies with state and/or local building codes.

For instance, while you may need permits in Florida and not in Texas, it is always best to still follow the construction roofing codes and guidelines by the International Building Code and National Roofing Contractors Association.

Tools

Roofing requires a specific set of tools to cut and install roofing materials, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE).

Here’s a list of some of the tools you need for your DIY roof replacement:

Roofing Materials

There are many different roofing materials you need to replace the roof with. These include:

  • Underlayment
  • Asphalt shingles, shingle starters, and hip and ridge caps
  • Roofing cement
  • Roofing and wood decking nails
  • Drip edge
  • Flashing for dormers, vents, and valleys
  • Hook blades
  • Sealant

Roofing Process

1. Remove old roofing materials

While you can install new shingles over the old ones for homes without damaged decking, it provides a less stable and secure roofing surface.

First, remove the existing roof material and dispose of it in a roll-off dumpster bin. This first step is one of the most labor-intensive parts of a  roof replacement. If you can’t get help from friends or family, you can hire a professional for this step at least.

Level of difficulty: 4/5

2. Make repairs as needed

For extremely old or heavily damaged roofs, make sure you repair the frame or add new sheathing first to give the new roof material a solid base.

Covering a damaged roof with new roofing material is not a good idea.

Level of difficulty: 4/5

3. Install water and ice barriers

Installing water and ice barriers at prone leak areas, such as valleys, eaves, and wall flashings, is required in locations that have more rain and harsh winters.  This step is crucial if you want to save money on costly water damage down the line.

Level of difficulty: 3/5

4. Lay the roofing underlayment

Depending on local codes and manufacturer installation instructions, nail or staple the roofing underlayment to the roof sheathing. The underlayment works as an additional weather barrier against the elements.

Level of difficulty: 3/5

5. Install or replaced damaged flashing

Flashing prevents moisture from penetrating the roof sheathing where two or more roof planes meet or wherever the roof meets a vertical surface.

Level of difficulty: 3/5

6. Install the drip edge

You may not need a metal drip edge, but it’s at least important to know this component of your home’s roofing system, as it will keep water from running on the fascia boards along the roof.

  • Place the roof drip edge tightly against the fascia boards.
  • Use roofing nails through the decking to secure the drip edge.
  • Fasten roofing nails every 2 to 3 inches.
  • Overlap each metal a minimum of 4 inches.
  • If not using a fascia wrap to cover your wood fascia, then install a 1×2 wood furring strip to help water stay away from the fascia.

Level of difficulty: 3/5

7. Install roof Covering and ventilation

With the proper protection against the elements, you can start installing the shingle starters and new roofing shingles. Start from the roof’s eave/bottom, near the metal drip edge, and then work upward toward the roof’s peak.

As you move along, replace plumbing vent stacks, exhaust vents, and other ventilation accessories

Lastly,  you’ll need to install ridge caps to finish the roof system.

Level of difficulty: 4/5

Get an in-progress and final inspections

Once you finish the roof replacement, clean up any leftover debris and walk around your yard with a magnet to pick nails. Next, have a building or home inspector look at the job to check your work.

With a roof inspection and sign-off of approval, your new roof is ready to shelter your household.


 Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long does it take to replace a roof by yourself?
    The time you take for a roof replacement depends on the size of your home, the type of roofing material you choose, and the weather.
    Generally, a typical DIY roof replacement project can take a week or two. But, a roofing contractor can do the work more quickly. 1-3 business days, depending on weather.
  2. Is it okay to put a new roof over an old one?
    Whether replacing the entire roof or just installing roof shingles in small areas, always pull up the old roof shingles.
  3. How long does a roof last?
    Roofs last about 20 to 50 years, depending on the material, installation quality, maintenance level, and local climate. According to the National Association of Home Builders, asphalt shingle composition roofs last about 20 years, while metal, slate, or tile roofs may last over 50 years. Wood shake roofs last
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We’re committed to providing you with the most accurate and up-to-date information to make informed decisions about your home improvement projects. Our research process is thorough, combining local contractor insights, permit data analysis, and building code reviews to ensure our guides reflect real-world costs and comply with the latest standards. We also stay on top of industry trends and best practices by consulting with experts. By factoring in both material and labor costs, we give you a complete picture of what your roof replacement might cost.

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