Roof renovation. Replacing the roof covering or just repairing it?

A major roof renovation is a huge cost and complex undertaking, which is why many builders try to avoid it by just making temporary repairs. Before making a decision consider whether it is more profitable to repair the roof covering or to replace it with a completely new one.

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Inspection before roof renovation

In order not to make a mistake in judgment, it is worth asking for help from a professional roofer or even a builder, if you are afraid that the condition of the roof trusses is unsatisfactory. You will also be able to discover many things yourself:

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  • check where the roof is leaking – by observing, for example, damp patches on the roof slopes and attic ceiling you can locate damage to the roofing – broken tiles or bent roof sheeting – and check the degree of damage;
  • you will notice damage to the gutters – if they are torn by snow sliding off the roof, or you see icicles hanging from the joints in winter – this indicates a leak in the gutter joint;
  • you will notice any kind of discoloration or staining of the roofing;
  • notice sagging, cracking, twisting of the wooden elements of the roof truss during a visit to the attic. Such damage may also be noticeable from the side of the roofing – when you see places where the roof is collapsing.

A roofer will help to check the condition of flashings. He will examine the tightness of the ventilation space under the roofing and help pinpoint the exact location of the leak. A structural engineer will catch any deficiencies in the rafter framing and give a structural opinion. He will assess whether the old rafter framing is still load-bearing and whether it will support the new roofing, for example with a heavier weight.

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Roof repair – what can be improved?

It is often enough to dismantle part of the roofing to get to the flashings, then replace them or dismantle and re-laid correctly. This simple fix will put an end to your leaking roof problems and you won’t need to replace the roofing at all. If the roof is tiled, it will be easy to replace a few damaged ones with new ones, although there is a concern that they will stand out against the others, which are more faded or dirty. Sheet metal roofing can be patched temporarily, for example with special sealing tapes. However, this is always just a postponement of a major renovation. The roof can of course be cleaned and sometimes painted. It is also possible to reinforce the rafter framing without removing the roofing, although this is sometimes not easy. Of course, this applies to buildings whose attics are not usable and from which there is good access to the roof trusses.

Replacing the roof covering – when is it worth it?

It is always expensive, but nevertheless very often pays off. Firstly, the house looks better, especially if the old roofing has lost its original charm. When replacing the roof covering you can also change a lot of things in the roof, which will also benefit the functionality of the attic. During the renovation it is possible to replace damaged, worn out or obsolete roofing elements, for example replace rigid sheathing insulated with torch-on membrane with modern highly vapour-permeable membrane. This is also an excellent opportunity to inspect the condition of the thermal insulation material.

Roof insulation

After removing the roof covering or dismantling the attic cladding, you can 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 rigid sheathing. A thin (5-8 cm) layer of polyurethane or extruded polystyrene laid on the outside will significantly improve the thermal insulation of the roof slope. Removing the roof covering is also a rare chance to move the roof windows higher or lower, if the height at which they were previously located was not right. It is also convenient to install roof windows in places where the attic is too dark. Replacement of the roof covering may also be accompanied by repair or reconstruction of the chimney.

Roof truss renovation

Sometimes the repair does not end with the repair or replacement of the roofing, because the problem lies deeper under the roofing and affects the roof trusses. The repair may be limited to reinforcing the damaged elements, but often, as for example in the case of a fungus attack, it ends with the replacement of the entire rafter framing or large sections of it. Such a major repair may be an incentive to change the height of the loft or the geometry of the roof. After all, you can raise the roof to adapt a low attic for living purposes or increase the roof slope angle. It is also possible to add a dormer window. In each of these examples, however, a conversion project will be required. Any repair work to the roof framing should be carried out by professional contractors and in consultation with a structural engineer.

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