Monday, April 23, 2012

Roofing, an umbrella for your house.

We've talked about lots of building options so far, or skimmed over them at least. So now we're up to roofs.

There's more to a roof than just it's covering. The supporting frames underneath carry the weight of the roof itself plus often several feet of wet heavy snow. In Canada it's called the snow load, and building appropriately is critical in maintaining the integrity of your roof. By integrity I don't just mean a few leaks, I'm talking about avoiding collapse.

Several years ago in Victoria, BC (1996) there was an unusually heavy snowfall followed by some rain. The snow acted as a sponge and so the roofs, many of which were flat or had a shallow pitch, ended up supporting thousands more pounds of weight than they were designed for. Rather than clearing the snow from roofs the residents just did what they always do....waited for it to melt and run off. Unfortunately many roofs collapsed causing millions of dollars of damage to contents of homes and businesses. This picture is of a roof that collapsed in Alaska where they're used to snow.

Here in Nova Scotia, lots of wet snow is the norm and combined with hurricane force winds we get in the fall our roofs are exposed to both heavy loading and torsion forces. All these things take a toll and make roof integrity vital to having a safe and cozy house. There's a fantastic example of metal roofing improperly installed just about a half hour from here. Wind got under the leading edge and peeled back the metal roofing like you'd turn the page in a book. It's really quite amazing the power of the wind.

For us designing a house there are many considerations. Durability, cost, ease of installation, water collection etc. The thing that will help all these is the pitch. A steeper pitched roof sheds snow more readily, is virtually self cleaning, and lasts longer, regardless of covering material. A very old shingled roof will still shed a good deal of water due to the pitch even if it's in poor repair. That doesn't mean you can leave it's far better to repair a roof than to have rot and other problems develop in your house.

Covering choices can include asphalt shingles, wood shingles (thinner) or shakes (thicker), rolled asphalt sheets, slate, tiles, concrete products, sheet metal roofing, recycled plastic shingles or thatch. Each has it's benefits and depending on availability and the particular roof you're covering you should have a good number of choices. We are going to use metal roofing because it's available, reasonably priced and works well with our designed water collection systems and roof design. Our roof will have very simple dimensions and not a lot of angles, hills and valleys. The simpler the design, the lower the price and maintenance costs.

Speaking of costs...if you can install your own roof then you'll save a huge amount of money. That being said, you MUST use safety equipment if working on a high, steep roof. Please be careful. Some types of roofing can be installed easily, such as tab style asphalt shingles and some types of metal roofing. I'd recommend that you practice roofing your shed, chicken coop, any smaller project first so that you become comfortable and familiar with your materials before tackling your roof. It's a very important part of the overall structure of your house and needs to be done right. If you're lucky, you'll never have to replace your roof in your lifetime. The cost for metal roofing here in the valley is approximately $1 per square foot according to our local builders supply. Add to that the cost of felt and fasteners and we'll be budgeting $2 per square foot. For our simple roof it should cost approximately $6000 to cover a 1500 square foot area but it will depend on the final design we finish with. A 2 storey house with 750 sq. ft. on each level means a roof area of approximately 1500 Sq. Ft (double the floor area) as a rough approximation so $3000. It's just one more part of the house that needs to be designed and we'll have that all worked out over the next few months.

It's cool and wet here at the moment which is good because the ground needs the moisture and I just seeded some bare spots in my lawn so the rain is a blessing. Mother nature waters so much better than a hose and sprinkler does. We're off to sign Mortgage papers soon, and then the piece of land will be ours and we can begin to start lining up projects. It's so exciting and we know we are so blessed! I can't even begin to tell you how much this means to us! Have a good day. And take care of each other.



  1. Snow could really devastate your roof if left unattended. Better do something to the roof before it collapses with the snow.
    Roofing Brisbane Northside

  2. “There's more to a roof than just its covering.” – I couldn’t agree more! Like any other part of the house, our roof plays an integral part. It serves as your first line of defense against the elements. That is why it is best to choose the appropriate materials and make sure that the built is strong enough to hold up against severe conditions, natural and man-made.

  3. In addition, it’s dangerous to let the snow melt by itself. There is a high chance that it will lead to ice dams that cause of leaks and moisture buildup under the roof. It would be good to prevent the snow from building up on the roof before something worse happens.

  4. I am happy that you’ve acquired a new property. It’s good that you’re doing your researching about home building and other related matters. The climate nowadays is more unfriendly, especially to roofs. But I bet you could have a more durable roof today than several years ago. In fact, some roofing companies even offer insurance policies and consultation services. So, how are things coming along in your property? Keep us updated!
    Frank Casher

  5. Really roofing is always like an umbrella for our house if we never take proper care and clean of it then it damages our house internally. Roof saves our house from heavy rainfalls,snowfalls and keep us safe from any type of natural disaster. That's why i am always trying to care about my house roofs and sometimes contact my roofers when i have not much time to clean gutters,pipes,debris and other things.