Owners pay you to fix roof leaks affecting their apartments or homes. This service may include repairing the roof deck, removing damaged shingles and/or flashing, and installing replacement shingles and/or flashing. This idea primarily concerns working with asphalt composition 3-tab shingles. Since this is an emergency service, you should be able to make money without much trouble. (This is article #2 in a series of emergency handyman services.)
This business idea is best suited for people who are physically fit and enjoy working with their hands. You must be able to climb onto roofs and move around in a safe manner. You must be skilled at finding the source of roof leaks and doing whatever is needed to fix them.
You should own a pickup truck or van to haul equipment, supplies, and trash. You need to own or purchase the equipment and protective gear appropriate for this activity. You should set up a home office with the basic office equipment and supplies.
Getting these jobs usually is just a question of making yourself known to potential customers, being qualified to do the work, and quoting the right price for the job. Place classified advertisements in the local newspaper or on craigslist.org to get customers. Also, advertise in any property owner’s newsletter.
Preliminary job activities
After greeting the customer at the job site, you need to determine the source of the roof leak. The customer may be able to help you on this matter. However, any dripping from a ceiling inside the house may not be directly under the leak in the roof. You may have to go into the attic or climb onto the roof to find the actual source of the leak.
After locating and inspecting the source of the roof leak, determine what materials and supplies you will need. Also, decide whether you should bring a helper. Then you can make an informed bid for doing the job. Write the details on a standard bid form that you and the customer can sign.
If your bid is accepted, don’t do anything else until you get a building permit, if required. If you will need to make any repairs to the roof structure, you also may need a contractor’s license. Now you can purchase the materials and supplies needed to fix the roof leak.
Main job activities
Here is how to get the job done. Perform these steps in the order shown.
Removing damaged shingles — Starting at the highest row, remove all damaged shingles. You will have to lift up the tabs on the next higher row to remove the nails or staples that have pierced the top row of damaged shingles. You may need a nail puller or chisel to help pull out the nails or staples.
Repairing damage to the roof deck — If there are holes in the roof deck or missing/damaged roof boards, you need to repair this. First, cut out and remove the damaged portion. (Don’t cut into the rafter itself.) Then replace the missing material (roof deck or roof boards, and asphalt saturated roofing paper.)
Replacing shingles — Attach the replacement shingles starting at the lowest row of shingles. When you reach the top row of replacement shingles, you will have to lift up the tabs on the next higher row and replace the nails or staples that you previously removed.
Fixing damaged or missing flashing — Flashing refers to the strips of sheet metal used where different materials come together. Examples would be around a chimney or vent pipe that comes through the roof. Replace or reposition any damaged flashing. Then apply some roofing tar around the edges of the flashing to make it waterproof.
Final job activities
Inspect the premises to verify you have finished all required tasks. Remove all your equipment and supplies. Clean up the work site.
Collect your agreed upon fee from the customer. Haul the trash away, if part of your agreed upon services.
Put on goggles before doing any sawing. Put on work gloves before handling any pieces of wood. (Splinters are dangerous and painful.)
When walking on a sloping roof, you should wear boots or shoes that will not slip on the roof deck, roofing paper, or shingles. An example would be Cougar Paws roofing boots.
Where the roof is especially steep, you may want to use roof jacks. These brackets are temporarily fastened to the roof deck with strong nails driven through a part of the shingle that will be hidden from view. If possible, locate the rafters supporting the roof deck and drive the nails into them. After attaching two or more brackets, you can affix a 2 x 6 or other strong plank onto the brackets as a foot support.
Consider whether you should get worker’s compensation insurance to cover any injuries on the job.