House Roofing Guide

What You Need To Know

Every house new or old needs a roof, right? Our guide breaks down the things you need to look for in a good roof.

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In this guide to roofing, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know so that you can build a solid, sturdy roof and get a good idea of the components and materials needed to do so. You should also have a good idea of how much this will cost you towards the end of the guide.  

There are various components that go into building a strong and sturdy roof that will stand the test of time. A well-built roof should last a very long time, however, just how long it lasts will depend entirely on the type and materials chosen. 

The entire roofing system must be taken into consideration here, especially when you may be building in an area that will expose the roof to severe elements. It’s likely that at least one element of the roofing system will need to be replaced at some point later on down the line, but if you choose the right materials and team to help you, then these occurrences should be few and far between.

A seasoned tradesman constructing a traditional pitched roofA seasoned tradesman constructing a traditional pitched roofA seasoned tradesman constructing a traditional pitched roofA seasoned tradesman constructing a traditional pitched roof

Building a roof construction the traditional way

A Full Roofing System Is As Follows: 

  • Roofing Shingles

  • Venting

  • Soffits

  • Gutters, Eaves, and Downspouts

  • Flashing

  • Rafters

  • Sheathing

  • Attic Insulation

The entire roofing system needs to work together in order to protect the property from the elements and continue functioning properly later on down the line. Not only is the roof essential to the functionality and safety of your home - it can play a huge role in the aesthetics of your home, too. 

The sort of roof your home has can add value or take it away, giving your home the dream look you’re after or something else entirely. However, looks should not be the deciding factor.

If you’re on your own self-build journey, then this guide to roofing should be very useful to you. Read on to learn more! 

An Introduction To Roofing 

You may need to consider planning permission, too, if you want to build a new home in which the roof will be taller than the surrounding buildings

The roof is one of the key features of the home and without question one of the most important. If you select the wrong style of roof, the wrong materials, or the wrong team for the job, you can bet that the whole project is going to suffer. 

In our introduction to roofing, you’ll get a feel for the process and who/what you will need to help you. 

The Design Of Your Roof

First off, getting the design of your roof right is essential, so to make this decision you need to have a good idea of what style home you’d like to build. If you select a roof that is too steep, for example, the house will likely look out of place on the street - plus, you’ll end up paying a lot more for a steep roof, and that’s money you could have allocated elsewhere on your project. 

It’s worth noting that the lower the pitch of your roof, the more water can accumulate there. The slope of your roof must be able to cope with the expected volume of water, so this is something that must be taken into account. Getting the balance right between practicality and the look of your roof is a must. 

Don’t be dazzled by style without even considering function, or you’ll pay for it in some way later on. We will talk more about roof designs later on. For now, just be aware that to select your design you should consider the following:

  • Where your home is. 

  • What your objectives are. 

  • The materials you’d like to use.

  • Your budget.

  • The labourers you have on your self-build team.

If you’re unsure of what to select, it’s probably best to get advice from a roofing company that you trust, or from the professionals helping you. Those with experience will be able to give you insight that will ensure a high quality finished result. 

Planning Permission

You may need to consider planning permission, too, if you want to build a new home in which the roof will be taller than the surrounding buildings. Go for pre-application advice from your local authority to get an appraisal of your plans from a local planning officer, and this will give you the best chance of approval for your project. 

Make sure you do this as far in advance as possible so that you don’t have to worry.

Insurance

You should know that it may only take one mistake to put your entire project back by a few weeks, and even put your project in jeopardy altogether. If you don’t have the right insurance, you may not be able to fix these circumstances at all. 

It’s unlikely that renovations, extensions, and other changes will be covered by your home insurance policy. Looking into a specialist option for your project, whether you’re changing the existing roof on your existing home or building one from scratch is crucial. Working with people who are fully insured is also important, so ask to see documentation to prove this.

Selecting The Right Team 

If you’re taking on a self-build project and you’re planning on managing the project yourself, then you should be aware of the professionals and teams you’ll need on board to help you. It’s unwise to go into this project without learning about the roofing process and who does what. 

You will be able to complete certain tasks yourself in order to save on labour costs, but you will still need a group of experienced professionals around you, especially when it comes to constructing your roof.

A professional roofing team will do the following for you:  

  • Cover in the roof with the underlay and rough batten

  • Fix GRP valleys or attend plumber fixing lead valleys

  • Bed or fix under cloak to verges

  • Fix counter battens if necessary

  • Gauge and fix tiling battens to suit tiles or slates

  • Load out tiles/slates

  • Lay roof tiles/slates, nailing as appropriate

  • Lay valley tiles if appropriate

  • Fix verge tiles/slates

  • Interleave upstand and cover flashings to the chimney

  • Interleave lead soakers

  • Attend to and interleave vent pipe skirts

  • Fix or bed ridge and hip tiles

  • Point up space between the underside of tiles/slates and under cloak

  • Clean off excess or spilt mortar

There is a lot that a professional roofing team can do that you won’t be able to do. They will also work with the carpenter to establish fascia levels, liaise with the plumbers and bricklayers to interleave leadwork and flashings, and cooperate with the plumber on soil vent pipes that carry through the roof. 

As a general rule, you can expect to need your roofers to come in between the 10th and 12th weeks, and perhaps there between one and a half and three weeks depending on your chosen roof covering.

A SIPS panel with two windows installedA female tradesperson nailing slate tiles to roofing latsA female tradesperson nailing slate tiles to roofing latsA female tradesperson nailing slate tiles to roofing lats

Slate tiles last for decades if installed correctly

The Different Types of Roofing and Their Pros and Cons 

Some homes that have skillion roofing may also find that they have issues when there’s high wind

There are many different types and styles of roofing, and they each have their own pros and cons. Here, we’ll discuss a few different types. 

Skillion Roof

The skillion roof style tends to be easy to assemble, using fewer building materials in general than other roof types. Skillions have a steep pitch, and this allows water and snow to run off easily, so they are perfect for regions where this weather is to be expected.

They can also be used for design purposes as they add aesthetic appeal and architectural interest.

A con of the skillion roof style is that ceilings can be too low if the pitch of the roof is too high. Some homes that have skillion roofing may also find that they have issues when there’s high wind. 

Gable Roof 

The gable roof is a popular style, and there are many gable options to choose from. There’s the side gable, crossed gable, front gable, and the Dutch gable to name a few. Gable roofs are great for running off water and snow, and they allow more space for the attic or vaulted ceilings, allowing more ventilation as a result. 

They have a very simple design, which makes it easy to build them. They tend to be cheaper than more complex designs.

That being said, a gable roof can be another problematic style in a high wind or hurricane area. The frame must be properly constructed and have adequate supports, or the gable can collapse. 

Butterfly Roof

A butterfly is a V-shaped roof constructed of two tandem pieces, which are angled up on the outside and the midsection angled downward to show similarities to butterfly wings. Many people who are constructing more modern housing styles and even eco-friendly homes choose the butterfly roof style. 

Larger windows can often be used due to the design, allowing the home with a butterfly roof to let in more natural light. In turn, this lowers the heating bills and also brings an open vibe to the design. As there is a valley in the middle of the roof, rainwater can be collected, and this makes it beneficial for high drought locations. 

A special spout will often be installed for this. If you would further like to make additions to this style, it’s extremely easy to add solar panels and water collection systems, allowing you to make your home environmentally friendly.

Although there are many benefits to the butterfly roof, the design is complex, so this, of course, means it will take a larger chunk of your budget. The upfront costs are higher, and the maintenance will also be more expensive over time. Ensuring that the roof is properly waterproofed is a must, as drainage systems can get clogged and water may pool. 

Sawtooth Roof 

The sawtooth roof is where there are two or more parallel pitched roofs where the sloped and vertical surfaces alternate. The roof looks like the side view of a saw, hence the name. This roof style was once only used in commercial buildings, but they are now commonly found in modern home design. 

The appeal of this style is that windows can be placed on the vertical slopes of the design, allowing for more natural light to be let in. They also make a great opportunity to create a loft living space. If you would like to make your home more eco-friendly, it’s easy to add things like solar panels, geothermal and radiant heating systems.

The sawtooth roof does tend to be more expensive than other roof types, due to the complex design and the different building materials needed. It also requires more maintenance. 

Hip Roof 

The hip roof has a few different types, including the simple hip and the crossed hip. This style of roof tends to be more stable than gable roofs, as the inward slope of all 4 sides makes it far more durable. They’re a good choice for snowy and high wind areas and can offer extra living space if you add a dormer or even a crow’s nest. 

The hip roof can be another expensive roof to build, however, It’s a far more complex design that requires more building materials to create. Leaks can also happen, especially if a dormer or separate addition is not made properly. 

Flat Roof 

A flat roof can be a great way to add extra living space on the roof for a patio, garden, or even create a partially enclosed space for a penthouse room. These roofs are often included in commercial designs. They are great for installing PV solar panels if you would like to create a more energy efficient home.

They are easier to create than a standard pitched roof and you can keep costs down as they don’t require as many materials.

The low pitch of a flat roof makes them more susceptible to water leakage. If you experience a lot of rain or snow, a flat roof should be avoided. They can also be more expensive in the long run if they require maintenance and repairs. 

Other Roof Types Include

There are many, many more roof types available. Below are just a few more to consider:

  • The M shaped roof

  • Dome roof

  • Curved roof

  • Dormer

  • Gambrel roof

  • Combination roof

Remember, when looking at roof types and styles, your decision should be made based mostly on your location and the objective of your home. You want the roof to look good, but this should not be your main concern or deciding factor as you’ll experience issues later on down the line. 

A close up of a sedum green roofA close up of a sedum green roofA close up of a sedum green roofA close up of a sedum green roof

Sedum green roofs are a new eco-friendly alternative roofing system

Materials Used In Roofing 

A green roof is covered with plants, and this, in turn, can improve air quality within and around a home

There are various materials used in roofing. There are the equipment roofers will need, such as the nails, fixing, scaffold, a hoist, lead stokers, upstands, and flashings. Then, there are the actual materials used to create your roof. Let’s take a look at some options:

  • Solar tiles - solar tiles can be integrated into existing shingles, and tend to generate around 1 kilowatt of energy per 100 square feet. They are great for sunny roofs in homeowners associations that don’t allow regular solar panels. They can also help to reduce energy costs, but cost more than traditional solar options.

  • Metal roofing - these come in vertical panels or shingles and resemble slate, tile, and shake. They last around 60 years. Great at getting rid of rain and heavy snow. They won’t burn either and tend to be able to resist high winds. Lightweight, they can also be installed over an existing roof. The metal can be noisy during storms, however. 

  • Asphalt shingles - this is a common roofing material because they tend to be able to withstand many conditions. However, quality varies widely, and you may need to replace them after around 20 years. 

  • Slate - this material lasts over 100 years. It does not burn, is waterproof, and will resist mould and fungus effectively. It’s great in a wet climate but is also expensive and heavy. 

  • Stone-coated steel - these panels mimic slate, clay, or shingles. They can resist damage caused by heavy rains, winds, hail, and more. They are also a great eco-friendly choice for wet or windy regions. You may find that some stone coated steel roofs are guaranteed for the life of a house. 

  • Rubber slate - this option looks natural but also may be cut with a knife to fit a more intricate roof style. They can last over 100 years but can also be damaged by walking and satellite dishes. They may also be damaged by hail. Ideally, a roofing professional that has been properly trained in this material will install rubber slate for you. 

  • Clay/Concrete tiles - these tiles can withstand extensive damage from hurricanes, tornados, and winds up to 125 miles per hour. They are a good choice for warmer climates and those that may be on the dry side. 

  • Green roofs - a green roof is covered with plants, and this, in turn, can improve air quality within and around a home. They may also reduce the water runoff and insulate homes. That being said, more is needed for them, including extra structural support, thermal insulation, waterproofing, drainage, soil, compost, and the plants themselves. They last around 40 years. 

A tiled roof with solar panels installed beside rooflightsA tiled roof with solar panels installed beside rooflightsA tiled roof with solar panels installed beside rooflightsA tiled roof with solar panels installed beside rooflights

Even small roofs can include energy saving ideas

Indicative Costs of Roofing 

Weigh up your options, and work with professionals, and you’ll end up with the best results

The cost of your roof will vary depending on a number of factors. From your location to the materials you have chosen. Roofers expect to earn approx £130 per day. Labourers cost around £80 per day. The roof itself could cost anywhere from £1000 to more than £4000

The design complexity of the roof that you select will affect cost. If you select one of the simple roof styles that we have mentioned here, you will be able to keep costs down and complete your project quickly. You’ll also reduce a labourer’s time on site, which will further bring down costs. 

However, it’s worth noting that a more expensive roof structure may be the best option at first, as you could potentially convert the space into something you can really use later on down the line. This will give you a more functional home and potentially add value. 

Reducing Roof Costs

Are there ways you can reduce roof costs further? Of course! You should never skimp on materials, but you can attempt to shorten the time that labour will be required for this part of the project. For example, there may be a few things you can take care of yourself, like putting the light trusses on the wall plate. 

This may save half a days labour, and reduce the cost of the project over time. You may also want to sort piles of lumber into sizes, and maybe even their uses. If you can sort them into joists, rafters, purlins, and so on, you will be able to save another half a day and more of a carpenter’s valuable time.

Getting the slates onto the roof takes some time, but it’s something that a self-builder could potentially do themselves. It isn’t easy by any means, but it could save a total of 5 days of labour. Plain clay tiles tend to cost the same as slate, but swapping to concrete interlocking would half the costs.

Although you should never try to save on quality materials or labour when you need it, it’s important to know what you can do yourself so you can bring the costs of your project down. 

Guide To Roofing: Conclusion

Hopefully, this guide to roofing has enlightened you somewhat and you now feel ready to take on this part of your self-build project. The roof is the first layer of protection on a building and will protect it from rain, snow, and other elements. 

The materials used are constantly subjected to different elements, so investing in the right materials is a must. The selection if these materials will have a huge impact on the performance and lifespan of a building, so don’t cut corners. The materials you choose will depend on your location, roof shape, and overall desired look.

The roof is one of the most important features of the home and should have a clear balance of function and aesthetic appeal in order to keep the house safe and looking great. Take your time, properly weigh up your options, and work with professionals, and you’ll end up with the best result imaginable.