Roofing is all about protecting the home and keeping it dry. Roof systems are designed to block or shed water and moisture. In areas where there is a great deal of snow, the pitch or incline of the roof is greater. This prevents too much snow accumulation and weight. It also allows water to shed without infiltration of the roof system.

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Dry In

Dry in of the roof is the step when the underlayment is set. It should begin as soon as the rough plumbing and mechanical are complete. This allows installed venting that penetrates the roof to be sealed properly.

What material is used for underlayment? There are new products all the time but the traditional material is 15-30 lb black felt paper, layered from the eaves to the rooftop. This is the base for the water shedding assembly. It allows for the interior to remain relatively dry for the remainder of the build.

Be sure to contact your roofing contractor during the framing stage. Two weeks notice for delivery of material and dry in should be adequate.


The actual roofing material, whether it be shingles, tile or other, is then "loaded" onto the roof. Loading the roof is a staging process. Material is placed across the structure in small stacks. This prevents the concentration of large amounts of heavy material in one area of the roof. Loading will take place after the sheet and shear inspection but before the rough inspections.

The type of material the owner builder will use must be determined prior to plans submittal. Because of weight differential and performance aspects, the roofing material can impact the necessary capacity of the truss system and some headers. It may also influence attic design.

Laying the Roof

If the owner builder has chosen to use a more traditional roof material, shingles or tiles, the setting of the roofing happens right after exterior paint. Setting after paint will reduce the chance of over spray onto the lower shingles or tiles. Coordination should be done with the stucco contractor or siding contractor, the painter and the roofer. It is important that the roofing contractor is updated as to the progress being made and whether or not he or she will be able to send crews on the day scheduled.

Licensed Roofers

It is critical that the owner builder use a licensed roofer. If there is a compromise in the underlayment of the roof and an unlicensed, uninsured installer did the work, it will be almost impossible to recoup the damage. As with all areas of the construction process , 3 or more bids should be obtained. Roofing is a particularly important part of the construction process. It is absolutely essential that the roofing contractor is selected carefully.

Roofing Materials

Shingles are a traditional material to roof with. Most shingles are made from petroleum products. This allows them to be somewhat flexible and water proof. As it heats up, shingles have tabs that melt to create a stronger bond and seal over the row below. One issue to be considered when using shingles; heat. Because the base product in most shingles is black tar, it will increase the temperature of the roof and the attic.


Roof tiles can be S shaped or flat. They also come in clay or concrete. The clay is a traditional Spanish style tile. They tend to be very expensive and are not as strong as concrete tiles. It depends if the owner builder’s focus is a house that is beautiful, yet practical or just beautiful. Clay tiles are distinctive and gorgeous. Concrete tiles can also be very beautiful. They come in all different colors and sizes.

Using tiles vs. shingles can be beneficial. Most concrete roofing tiles have a longer warranty than a shingle. Also, because of the increased air flow, the roof itself is cooler. This can allow for a cooler attic and less work for your A/C in the summertime. Be aware, however, that roofing tiles tend to cost much more than shingles.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is also very popular. Again, it is an expensive option but one that many are choosing. You will see a lot of metal roofing on cabins. The metal sheets on a high pitched roof allow snow to slide easily off. The metal heats up and accelerates the snow melting as well.

Metal roofing is sturdy and is an excellent choice in heavy snow areas. There are a variety of manufacturers and styles.


Falling is the primary safety accident on jobsites today. Insist that the crews on your construction site wear harnesses and be tied off when they are on your roof. The last thing you want is to have someone hurt while building your home. Especially when it could have been avoided by following OSHA safety rules.