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Roof Renovation Guide: Checklist of Steps to Follow

Last modified: 2020-07-28 | Approximate reading time 16 mins

Léa Plourde-Archer

Thousands of years ago, humans learned about the value of having a roof over their heads for protection. The roof plays an extremely important role in ensuring the comfort of the occupants of the house and in preserving its structure.

Roof installation materials and techniques have evolved a lot over time. Even nowadays, we see a lot of changes in terms of materials and roof shapes.

Lastly, you should also know that roofs differ a lot from one country to another, depending on the type of material available and the climate. In this article, we will explore each one of the stages of a roof renovation project, the materials, the shapes, the techniques and how you should approach working with a contractor.

This guide is mainly useful for major roofing projects but we also recommend that you use it for smaller transformations, such as repairs.

Would you like to skip directly to the checklist? Click here! We also have a version that is already filled out so you can get tips on how to fill it out (click here).

BEFORE YOU LAUNCH THE PROJECT

If you've landed here, this means that you're thinking of renovating or replacing your roof. Before starting to work on any concrete steps, it will be important that you take the time to organize your project. You will need to clarify your goals. People tend to underestimate the sheer amount of things to take into account during a roof renovation project.

In addition to the materials installed on the surface, you’ll also have to think about the shape of the structure, flashings, soffits, gutters, insulation materials, vents and so on.

THE KEYWORDS OF A ROOF RENOVATION PROJECT

Contractor working on a roof

Durable

In an ideal world, any roof would have a long lifespan. Depending on the type of material installed on the surface, the roof can remain in good condition over several years, even decades. When repairing or replacing your roofing material, you have to pick a durable material and make sure that the installation is done properly.

Adapted

We are spoiled for choice among the different types of roofing materials available on the market. However, instead of simply judging the aesthetical aspect, it is important to factor in the characteristics of each of these materials to be able to choose a product that is suitable for the local climate, how much maintenance you can carry out and in some cases, municipal bylaws.

HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS

If you are launching a large-scale roof renovation project, you should take the time to determine your needs so you can select the right material and create an ideal roof for your home. If you don’t have a lot of knowledge about roofs, it is strongly recommended that you quickly get in touch with experts in roofing, insulation, ventilation, soffits and other elements involved in this type of project.

Here are a few factors to take into account when starting work on this type of project:

  • Easy maintenance;

  • Price/quality ratio;

  • Level of insulation;

  • Ventilation;

  • Eco-friendly aspect.

Roof renovation project

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF WHEN PLANNING A ROOF RENOVATION PROJECT

What is my budget for a roof renovation project?

Unless we’re talking about a minor repair, it is almost impossible to carry out a roof construction or renovation project without spending a lot of money. We are going to talk about the budget in another section of this guide.

First, you should have a general idea of the amount you are able to set aside for this project. You can use our cost calculator to check whether this number is realistic.

How often am I able to clean and take care of the roof?

Some roof models and materials require more maintenance than others. If you prefer to keep maintenance to a strict minimum, you should take this factor into account when designing your new roof.

Does the roof truly need to be replaced?

It may be more cost-effective to make repairs instead of replacing the entire roof. To determine how you should proceed, you must seek out the opinion of an expert.

Will the complete structure of the roof have to be removed?

If you can keep some of the roof structure, you may be able to save a certain amount of money. However, if the complete structure needs to be replaced, you will have to take into account the costs associated with the removal of the said structure, as well as those to build a new base.

Is it only one section that needs to be renovated?

In some cases, you may want to consider renovating or replacing only a section of the roof. This is not possible for all types of roofs (structures and materials), so this is an issue that you need to address with a roofer.

Will my new roof have a warranty?

Your new roof may come with one or more warranties. Indeed, some contractors will offer warranties with coverage for a few years for repairs or replacements.

There are also warranties for certain roofing materials. In such a case, you will find specific information and criteria by consulting the official documents provided by the manufacturing company.

For the guarantees to be valid and applicable, make sure you always have written and official proof of their existence. You should have access to written proof of all of the terms that are included in these warranties.

Will the renovation project affect my day-to-day life?

Some roof renovation projects will be over quickly. The contractor will need a few days to complete the work and you will not experience major inconveniences in your daily life.

However, if you have to replace the entire roof, this project could take several days or even weeks. In this situation, you may have to think about leaving your house while the work is being done.

Could the renovation project improve the building’s insulation?

One of the roles of the roof is to help ensure that the house is well insulated and offers good ventilation. If you have insulation problems in your home, this roof renovation project presents a good opportunity to improve on this aspect.

This could have an impact on your choice of roofing material, on the installation of soffits, the design of the flashings and the entire structure of the roof.

Do I want to adopt eco-friendly techniques for the roof renovation project?

A growing number of people are keen to renovate their homes by following eco-friendly criteria when choosing materials or installation techniques. Talk to your roofer to find out about the options that are available right now.

Roofer working on a job

WHO ARE THE EXPERTS TO HIRE FOR A ROOF RENOVATION PROJECT?

When we think of roof renovations, the first experts we think of contacting are roofers. These contractors focus on renovating and building roofs. Some roofers develop specialized skills with certain materials or types of structures.

In some cases, other types of contractors are required, including ones that specialize in gutter installation, soffits, ventilation structures, insulation and so on.

Therefore, you may have to work with different contractors for your project. To help you select the experts with whom you will collaborate, we will present the main characteristics to take into account during the selection process.

The standards to apply when selecting your roofer

  • Make sure they have the valid licences (requirements vary from one province to another);

  • Check whether the contractor has valid insurance;

  • Check whether the contractor has more experience with certain materials.

It should be noted that most of these criteria can apply to other types of entrepreneurs. You may need to use the services of several contractors for your roofing project (specialists in gutters, insulation, ventilation, etc.), so you can use this evaluation grid to choose those with whom you want to collaborate.

One important thing to remember: you must always have written contracts with your contractors. Would you like to know why? Check out our article: Renovation Project: 3 Reasons to Sign an Official Contract

BUILDING STANDARDS FOR ROOFS

Consult your roofer to make sure that your renovation project complies with construction standards as written in the building code and the regulations determined by your municipal authorities. When you apply for your permit (see the next point), take this opportunity to find out if your municipality has issued any specific rules.

House with roof

PERMITS FOR A ROOF RENOVATION PROJECT

As always, it is important to make sure that you are operating with the right building permit for the work that is going to be carried out. Some projects require a permit, whereas other work can be done without this type of document.

For roofing projects, you may need a permit. This depends on several factors including:

  • The type of roof (structure, materials, size);

  • The city where you live;

  • Work techniques.

Contact your city for more information. Your roofer should also be able to provide this information. Here is our article about building permits, which gives you more detailed information about this type of document:

THE BUDGET FOR A ROOF RENOVATION PROJECT

This is a very important factor when carrying out a roof renovation project! It’s hard to present an order of magnitude of the prices associated with roof renovations, as there are many factors to take into account. Indeed, a simple repair will not create the same expenses as building a new roof.

However, there are techniques to give you a general idea of the cost of your project. We also have several of our own tools you can use, including this article:

As well as our roof renovation cost calculator

Roof with slopes

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ROOFS

There are a wide variety of roof shapes and models that exist. However, in general, here are the models we see most often:

  • Flat roof;

  • Pitched roof;

  • Mansard roof.

There are also rounded roofs, green roofs and flat roofs. We will discuss these two models later in the article.

Then there are subcategories for each structure, especially for pitched roofs. This type of roofing can have one pitch (single slope), two pitches or several pitches. It is one of the most common types of roofing, especially in small towns or suburbs. In big cities, we see a lot of flat roofs with covering materials such as TPO, EPDM or multilayer membranes.

To choose the roofing model that will best suit your home, you will need to take into account several factors including the size of the house, weather conditions, budget and aesthetic considerations.

And here are two other general articles that are interesting to check out:

Roof old house

THE TYPES OF MATERIALS FOR ROOF RENOVATION PROJECTS

In this section, we will provide an overview of the most common roofing materials in Canada. You will also find links to more comprehensive articles to help you get more information on each material.

Metal roof

Metal roof

Are you looking for a highly resistant material to make sure that your roof has a long lifespan? Sheet metal roofing may be an interesting option. You will find some of the strongest materials available on the market. In general, metal roofing is also highly waterproof, which is an interesting characteristic in a climate like ours. Finally, it should be noted that metal roofs can be very energy efficient.

Regarding the disadvantages, it must be taken into account that certain environments can be somewhat hostile to metal, especially in places where there may be accumulations of salt which will degrade surfaces. Lastly, sheet metal roofs can also be more difficult to install.

For more information on sheet metal roofing, check out these articles:

Slate roof

Metal roof

Slatestone has been used as a roofing material for ages and has experienced a revival since the 1970s. Considered a noble and elegant product, slate is also used for floors, counters and walls.

If you want to fully enjoy the benefits of slate, you will opt for natural slate. However, when you have to deal with a smaller budget, there is also synthetic slate which has a shorter lifespan.

Asphalt shingle roof

Asphalt shingle roof

Asphalt shingles are widely used on roofs in Canada. This is an affordable material with a bit of a bad reputation, but it offers very interesting advantages. For satisfactory results, it is important to choose the right type of shingle and hire experts who will be able to ensure that the material is installed properly.

Here is an article to better understand the characteristics of shingle roofing:

Flat roof

TPO EPDM roof

Do you have a flat roof? There are 4 main types of materials designed for flat roofs.

Among these are the TPO and EPDM coatings, which are monolayer type membranes. The two materials have in common the fact that they are waterproof, resistant and durable. With proper maintenance, they can have a lifespan between 15 and 35 years.

However, be aware that TPO and EPDM are quite different materials and they each have their pros and cons. For more information, check out this article:

General articles about roof renovation projects

We also invite you to take a look at our general articles on roofing. These articles are full of useful and interesting information about the different roofing models and materials available on the market:

ROOFTOP TERRACES AND GREEN ROOFS

Green roof

More and more people are planning to use their flat roof to create a landscaped space that they can take advantage of, either to build a terrace or to set up a garden. These types of arrangements are very interesting as they carry benefits for the occupants of the house who will have access to the roof. For example, the green roof is eco-friendly and could turn into a garden where you grow your vegetables. As for the rooftop terrace, this would increase the surface area of the house that you can enjoy.

However, these are two large-scale projects which do not leave room for improvisation. It is essential to follow the steps carefully to ensure that the project is feasible and that it suits your budget.

Here are our articles about flat roofs and green roofs:

Rooftop terrace

Green roof

Rooftop terrace

THE DIFFERENT COMPONENTS IN A ROOF

Even if the roofing material is the most visible element, several other components play an important role.

Here are the components that we will talk about in the next paragraphs:

  • Flashings;

  • Ventilation;

  • Insulation;

  • Gutters;

  • Soffits;

Watertightness/flashings

One of the key elements to ensure that your roof and home are waterproof is the roofing material. However, whichever material you end up choosing, make sure they are properly sealed and caulked. For example, flashings will act to repel water and other elements that could seep inside your house through the cracks or other openings.

Insulation

Do not neglect the insulation of the roof, as heat from the house tends to rise and could escape. When you're at the stage of thinking about insulating your roof, check out this article:

Roof vent

Ventilation

In addition to insulation, you also have to think about ventilation. A poorly ventilated roof could create many problems throughout the house, especially in terms of air quality.

To help you, we have prepared this:

Fascia

The fascia is one of the roof components and its surface is where gutters are installed. It creates a sealing barrier between the gutter, the soffit and the house. Since it is exposed to bad weather, it acts to prevent the various elements from entering the house and causing damage to the structure.

Soffits

" A soffit is a sheet of aluminum that is placed under the edge of a roof, also known as a cornice, and whose perforations let the airflow through the attic. Ventilated soffits are mostly found on buildings with slanted roofs (flat-roofed homes usually don’t have soffits). Do not confuse a soffit with a flashing, which is the piece of material that serves as a joint of sorts between different parts of the roof, blocking the passage of water and other elements from entering the building’s structure. "

The previous paragraph is from this article where you will find more info about soffits:

Roof gutters

Gutters/eavestroughs

Gutters (also known as eavestroughs) have a very important role to play in protecting the house: installed at the edge of the roof, they collect rainwater and melting snow to reduce infiltrations in the roof and the foundations.

The main disadvantage of gutters is that they require maintenance. Here are two articles to learn more about gutters and their maintenance techniques:

Cornice moulding, garret windows, dormer windows

Some types of roofs are decorated with cornices, garret and/or dormer windows. These elements are mainly decorative, but they can also have interesting features. To find out more about cornice mouldings, check out this article:

Roof on house

GENERAL ROOF MAINTENANCE

Some types of roofs and materials require little maintenance, while others are more demanding. Here are the actions that are considered roof maintenance:

  • Inspect the roof regularly to determine if there is any damage or potential problems

  • Clean the roof to avoid the accumulation of water, debris, snow

  • Replace damaged sections (ex: shingles torn off)

Maintenance techniques are different from one model to another, so you can discuss this with your roofer and ask the company that manufactures the materials. Be aware that for some types of roofs, you will have to get a snow removal service every year to reduce the chances of damage.

Here are some articles you may find useful to learn more about it:

CHECKLIST TO USE FOR YOUR ROOF RENOVATION PROJECT

Download the PDF version + Download the document already filled out for examples

Roof renovation checklist

Get 3 renovation quotes for your roof renovation project

RenoQuotes.com can help you get quotes for your TPO or EPDM roofing project. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with 3 qualified professionals. Fill in the form on our homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will receive quotes from the best roofing companies.

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