Heavy rain pops open manhole cover on road

Sydney Roof repair services – Don’t let leaking roofs dampen your life

If a typical Sydney storm can pop a manhole cover out of the road, imagine the kind of roof leaks it can do to your roof

On Christmas eve, 2023, a storm passed through Sydney, while some suburbs got off lightly, Homebush collected 28mm of rain in a 30 minute period from 11.30am. This is the sort of rain that lead to a lot of leaking roofs.

Table of Contents

  1. An Introduction
  2. Impact #1:How the 1999 hailstorm changed Sydney Roofers
  3. Impact #2:Lessons from the 2022 ‘Big Wet”
  4. Impact #3:The growth of small roofing Contractors
  5. Impact #4:The shining object syndrome that affects all roofers
  6. Lessons from Jack The Roofer
  7. The 80/20 Rule
  8. The COST-BENEFIT Consideration
  9. De-Stress with the Long Game
  10. Final Words from Jack The Roofer
  11. Last Words
Roof repairs caused by Heavy rain in Homebush Sydney
28mm rain in 30 minutes is enough to make lots of roofs leak

Roof Repair Services in Sydney – An Introduction

In an ideal world, we would put a roof up and never have to go back to do any repairs on it.

But we live in an imperfect world and like everywhere else, Sydney’s roofs have their unique challenges that are climate and quality related.

And whilst climate variability is alive and well in Sydney, only two events stand out over the last quarter century as being defining phases in our roof repair world. These were the 1999 Sydney hailstorm and the 2022 record Sydney wet that hammered our roofs, causing massive insurance costs, and somewhat changed the face of Sydney roof repairs.

The other challenge to repairing leaking roofs has been floating around like an iceberg. We only see the tip, but it is the part lurking beneath the waterline that has gathered momentum and threatens to be the challenge that money will not fix.

This lurking element has even forced the NSW government to set up the Building Commission as a policing attempt to remedy. And this major challenge that house roofs (and all other parts of a home) are suffering from is “BUILD QUALITY”.

Sydney is suffering from properly trained tradies in the building industry. And this means shoddy and defective work that need repair work – even before the house is complete. Instead of tradies walking away from the work with a sense of pride and knowing that their work will stand the test of time, they pack up and hope for the best. Most have no intention (or even the opportunity) to return when their work fails – so that they can learn and do better on the next job.

Now that we have exposed the flaws in our building industry in general, we will examine on this post, the intricacies of the Roof Repair Industry in Sydney and how a typical homeowner can navigate the murky waters to find a suitable roofer who can repair their roof like a true tradesman.

1999 Sydney hailstorm roof damage report
The famous 1999 Sydney hailstorm changed the face of Sydney roofs

Sydney Roof Repair Services Impact # 1: How the 1999 hailstorm changed Sydney Roofers

Any disaster will leave us with new experiences and lessons to be learnt.

The memorable 1999 Sydney hailstorm was life-defining for a particular civil engineer working on the Eastern Distributor tunnel under Taylor Square in Sydney.

This was the event that turned Jack the Engineer into ‘Jack The Roofer’.

Surrendering a project manager’s two-way radio (that managed a team of construction workers) and swapping it for a roofing ladder whilst walking up and down the same streets as his previous job, the new recruit was pretty apprehensive.

Fast tracking from a desk job to a labouring role and apprenticing to a real roofing tradesman was a revelation.

Many other roofers would have started their careers during the massive roof repair chapter of Sydney’s history. But I doubt that most of them would have had the good luck of mentoring under a roofer who was highly skilled and proud of his handiwork.

  • Roofer shortages:
Construction workers are migratory. They go to where the work is.

In the 1999 Sydney hailstorm clean-up, roofers flocked into Sydney from all over Australia. With this influx, new skills and roof repair methods were introduced to Sydney roofers. Whilst some of these (like the use of flexible pointing on ridge capping) improved the standard of Sydney roof repairs, the “she will be right’ culture of transient roofers left its indelible mark.

  • Material shortages:
Roof tiles suffered the most from the hailstorm and the roof tile manufacturers worked round the clock and still came up short. This opened the opportunity for metal roofs to become a viable alternative to roof tiles. Metal roofers got busier.

This also opened the opportunity to ‘harvest roof tiles’ from a partly damaged roof for re-use to repair another tile roof – with one of the roofs spouting a new colorbond metal roof. This mixture of smart and luck meant Sydney roofs shrugging off the tarps and returning to normal service within the span of a year.

  • The legacy of skill shortages:
Knowing that they will not be around for long to honour their work, transient roofers leave this culture behind for the local roofers to fall back to.

So, when the temporary segment of roofers departed for other pastures, It left a generation of lazy roofers in Sydney.

Roof repairs needed because of Sydney's wettest year on record
When it rains for such a long time, roof weaknesses are exposed

Sydney Roof Repair Services Impact # 2: Lessons from the 2022 ‘BIG WET”

Short duration storms do not expose the smaller faults that most roofs suffer from. When we got the wettest year on record in 2022, these faults became apparent, and nearly every house had a leaking roof.

The demand for roofers who could repair leaking roofs suddenly “went through the roof!”

Unlike the 1999 Hailstorm, this demand was for a different type of roofer. Roofers who excelled in replacing or repairing hailstorm damaged roofs are usually clueless in diagnosing the causes of the type of roof leaks brought about by a long-wet spell. Some of these faulty roofs defied the best roof experts and they failed to identify the root causes of these roof leaks.

  • The role of insurance companies:
Insurance assessors had an easy time with the 1999 Sydney hailstorm. It was fairly obvious that almost every insurance claim in hail affected areas were based on hail (and subsequent water) damage. Insurance companies did not need their own expert roof inspectors to evaluate the damage claim.

The 2022 Sydney WET was quite different. The rain was not accompanied by any hail or wild winds. It just rained for a very long time.

So what actually caused the roof leaks? And can any of these leaks be blamed back to a storm event?

Remember that the role of insurance companies is to limit their payouts – so that they can continue trading…

With the large volume of water damage claims, the insurance companies had to have expert proof that the roof leaks were not the result of any storm – but were the result of “wear & Tear” and lack of proper roof maintenance. These expert proofs would then allow the insurance companies to deny most of Sydney homeowners’ roof repair claims.

We saw a lot of expert roof reports commissioned by insurance companies- supplied by courtesy of homeowners with rejected claims. Thankfully, most insurance came to the party and settled on part of the claims. But these were based on the homeowner commissioning their own roof repairer to do the recommended roof repairs.

  • A new breed of roof repairer – the roof inspector:
We often get requests to write roof reports for clients who need expert documentation for negotiations. We prefer just doing the roof repair and save on the argument.

But roof reports must be a nice niche for desk-bound roofers. We have seen so many roof reports recently (by roof inspectors of varying expertise) and wonder if we are missing out. Producing a quick and easy roof report does not seem to demand expert roof repair skills.

This is evidenced by the quality of roof repair reports that homeowners have shown us. None of them seem to show the required expertise to get to the root of the roof problem. We are often the ‘last straw’ for homeowners who want an expert roof repair quote based on the real roof condition and the causes of the its problems.

A roof inspector at the end of a drone is common. Maybe, they do not know how to use ladders?

  • Another new breed of roof repairer – the pro-am:
Supply follows demand.

After the big WET, everyone needed a roofer. Any roofer. And most homeowners got the Pro-Am.

Some of these amateur roofers are pretty good and satisfied the huge itch. Simple roof repair work like cleaning out gutters, valleys, replacing roof tiles and applying lots of silicone were performed by these roofers quite effectively.

When the demand eased and these Pro-Am roof repairers stayed on to repair Sydney roofs, they ‘knew just enough to be DANGEROUS”.

The real Roofing Professionals will now have to clean up the amateur work.

Roof repairers -Sydney roofing Contractors
Small Roofing Contractors in Sydney on the rise

Sydney Roof Repair Services Impact # 3: The growth of small roofing contractors

Big building companies found out that employing sub-contractors was more cost effective than having their own large crew of construction workers. There was a big push to turn tradies into ‘Independent contractors’ – all to the benefit of the big players.

This work style has some ‘downsides’ that the Australian Government is trying to fix by introducing the  ‘The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Bill 2023.”

In the Sydney Roofing scene, the loopholes are alive and well. We now have a few large roofing companies with small crews of  ‘in-house’ roofers and plenty of ‘independent roofing contractors’.

  • Easy to call yourself a roofer:
Anyone who wants to call themselves a qualified roofer in Sydney just needs to find a roofing company who needs cheap roof labourers. If they show diligence and a willingness to learn, the company can offer to put them through a TAFE course. This is like a school for naive teenagers who have no other choice in careers.

It is not a great classroom – but there is structured teaching about becoming a roofer. After a couple of years of this and the graduate with some work experience can apply for a roofer’s licence.

If the roofing company do not see the benefit in sending their labourer to school, they can do their own in-house training and the budding roofer can do a ‘private certified’ module and also come away with a qualification and a roofing licence.

While both pathways are valid, the value of the roofing qualification to a homeowner is questionable. Surely, a proper roofer needs to be trained to certain levels of competence and be able to show skilled application of this knowledge?

  • Questionable roof training produces questionable roofers:
Train and retain.

This is the two-piece puzzle that businesses have been trying to piece together to enable Training is time consuming and expensive and when retention fails, it is really BAD. Even worse is the tendency for the best to leave and the mediocre filling up the pool of resources.

The big roofing companies need a training program. But they struggle with retention also. And when contractors begin to dominate the workforce, there is no incentive for expensive training.

We have roofers thinking that they know enough – purely because they work for themselves. And they do not make enough money to invest in their own training.

Looks like we have a problem…

HiPages Directory another failed roof repair
Sometimes, it takes many years before the right roofer comes along..
  • Thousands of roofers marching in different directions:
There is about 1,000 roofing contractors in Sydney (courtesy of Google’s BARD Gemini). This is a lot for the 1.2M homeowners in Sydney to choose from.

The majority hang out in service directories (like Hipages) looking for roofs to fix. While directories like the Yellow Pages were the ‘Go to’ for homeowners looking for roofers a decade ago, there are a lot more options today. But it is no easier today to find where all the good roofers in Sydney hang out.

Every roofer in Sydney thinks that they can do any sort of roofing work and become ‘generalists’. Few are brave enough to choose a niche and specialise in that.

Makes it harder for a homeowner to find a specialist roof to repair that special roof problem…

Roofing scams in Sydney caught on TV
Roof repairs and Roofing Scams in Sydney

Sydney Roof Repair Services Impact # 4: The shining object syndrome that affects all roofers.

Nobody reads a manual anymore. Screen scrolling has taken over.

We have too many ‘shining objects’ stealing our limited attention and our roofers frequently forget to pack all their tools at the end of a job. They don’t seem to forget their phones on the roofs though…

  • Experts persist, where others give up:
Professional roof repairers call themselves ‘Roof Surgeons’. They detect the likely cause of a roof leak and come up with a procedure to ‘open up the roof’, perform the anticipated operation and have a dig around to see if there are any other potential problems. This last step is what separates the real professional roof repairer from the so called ‘Roof Doctors’ who ply their trade without the necessary hard earned skills.

Whilst Roof Doctors attempt to remove the symptoms with generic handiwork, The highly skilled Roofing Professionals do everything to establish a CURE.

It will involve a lot of patience, attention to detail and focus – which is in short supply for most roofers.

  • The death of trust in roofers:
The mainstream TV have regular exposes on ‘rip-off roofers’. Roofers are the latest in the ‘get rich’ scheme. Fast in, fast out and fast cars…

We roofers are akin to used car salesmen. And we only have ourselves to blame. The behaviour of a section of infamous roofers who are in merely to make some quick money, pulls down the reputation of roofers down to the bottom of the ‘trusted professions’ list.

  • The way to improvement for Sydney roofers:
There is a lot of talk about CULTURE when organisations look at changing for the better. “People like us – do things like this”.

It is a hard task to unite a band of roof mercenaries (each with their own agendas). History shows that it just takes a few leaders and a common cause for people to band together to fight a common enemy or to achieve a common outcome.

Mexican waves, Flashmobs, 9/11 are all examples of dropping ‘culture’ into mobs of strangers.

Improvement just needs a change in Roofing Culture for Sydney roofers.

Lessons from Jack The Roofer
Jack the Roofer is always ready to tell a story

Roof Repair Services in Sydney – Lessons from Jack the Roofer

I tell my roofers to do things and be prepared for some of them to be totally wrong. Then the next critical step is to admit the mistake and re-engineer the situation.

All my Engineering class suffered through the module titled “Cost Benefit Analysis” in their engineering economics course. It kind of made sense – but it was real boring.

Now, approaching my 7th decade, I have finally realised that applying “Cost Benefit Analysis” (whether witting or unwitting) throughout my life have shaped the way I am today.

Pareto and Bell curve distribution for roofers
Statistics for roofers – Is it true MATHS?

Sydney Roof Repair Services Lesson  # 1: The 80/20 rule

I always thought that Maths was ‘Real’, and Statistics was ‘Made -up.’  How can the bell curve compete with the Pythagoras theorem?

Now, much older and carrying around a huge bag of mistakes, I accept that Statistics can be more real that pure maths. When governments rely on a bunch of statistics to control our lives, we must accept that statistics is serious business.

Birthed from the BELL CURVE, there is one observed discovery that should be fundamental thinking for all of us. And this is the 80/20 rule (correctly attributed as the PARETO Principle).

This is a rule that canl explain why the Sydney Roof repair industry is just as ‘messed up’ as everything else in the world.

  • Only 20% of Sydney roofers get to the’ REAL EXPERT ‘level:
We have apprentices go through vocational training at TAFE as a pathway to becoming a qualified roofer.

We also have roof labourers do a ‘private certified’ course and come away with a qualification and a roofing licence.

Whilst both pathways are ‘Legit’, the universal goal of “getting a roofing licence” sabotages the ultimate intent of the journey to develop roofing skills to become a ‘top-notch’ roofer. The incentive of our system is to get to the licence to achieve the specific goal and miss the ultimate purpose of becoming a roofer.

Just as the purpose of life is NOT to ‘die happy’ – the purpose of a budding roofer is not just to get to the licence. But only 20% of roofers understand this. They think that getting to the licence is the ultimate goal.

If a roofer is not on a continuous mission to grow their expertise, they do not get to the EXPERT level. It seems that statistics also apply to roofers. Only 20% of them seem to get to the EXPERT level.

  • 80 % of Sydney roofers get by with 20% roofing expertise:
Faced with the fact that what we ‘don’t know that we don’t know’, represents the vast portion of our knowledge bank, we still get by pretty good.

Compared to professional race car drivers, all of us know very little about how to drive a car properly – yet there are billions of us on the roads hurling our vehicles against each other (quite badly) and still making to our destinations safely.

It is the same with Sydney roofers. Most only need to know just 20% of what roofing is about to get hired. And 80% of the time, 20% is all they need to perform their job adequately.

  • Only 20% of Sydney roofers actually specialise in roof repairs:
Tradies who call themselves Roofers in Sydney, will come with a range of specialities. Some are commercial roofers and do large roofs for industrial and residential developments. Some only do residential roofs. Others specialise in fascia and gutters. Some are metal roofers and other, roof tilers.

Very few call themselves just “Roof Repairers’. That is why only 20% of roofers out have some decent knowledge of how to repair roofs. Roofers in this segment need a wider range of expertise that demands intimate know of all types of roofing and guttering. So, most roofers do not bother with developing this skillset.

  •  20% of roof faults are the cause of 80% of the problems with Sydney roofs:
The handful of roof faults that cause the bulk of the roof problems are things like: Blocked gutters and valleys, inappropriate roof pitch, inadequate roof flashings and bad quality roof build.

With adequate knowledge of this basic 20%, roofers and homeowners alike can make sense of most roof problems that they come across.

We don’t need to know a lot to be useful on a roof issue.

High Roof repair cost with no benefits
What would be the result of a cost-benefit analysis on this roof repair?

Sydney Roof Repair Services Lesson # 2: The COST-BENEFIT consideration

When the expensive ROZELLE INTERCHANGE opened for vehicles in October 2023, there was traffic chaos. The benefits of such a n engineering feat were called to question and this maybe how some of you would have heard the phrase ‘Cost-Benefit analysis’.

When I was a practising Project manager, I should have based all my decisions on the results of  a cost benefit analysis. I should have listed all the costs and the corresponding benefits of all the actions needed to bring the project to completion and made all my decisions on that often-complicated calculation.

What happened, was that I lazily succumbed to using my intuition.

That made for bad decisions when my intuition was based on faulty data or inappropriate framework.

Unlike Engineers who are ‘drilled’ about the value of Cost-Benefit analysis, Homeowners and Roofers do not know what this means – let along use this concept to optimise for better outcomes.

  • Choosing the right roofer – where homeowners falter:
Repairing a roof presents a cost. A watertight roof is the benefit. This seems simple.

But simplifying the decision into these two data points creates the fallacy that the cheapest option to repairing a roof for the homeowner will yield the maximum benefit. Any decent analysis needs to be done using all relevant data points – rather than just the most obvious.

Cost Items like: Provisional costs (if further repairs are required): Lost opportunity (inefficient time expense); Worry (there actually is a cost to this); Devaluation (some roof repairs can actually cheapen your roof); Relationship (arguments between partners and others); More…

On the other side of the evaluation, Benefits should include: Good experience (think of the experiences that you are happy to pay for); Peace of Mind (certainly worth paying for); Certainty (priceless?); Insurability (Insurers like watertight roofs); Fit for Purpose (Inappropriate solutions are expensive); More…

Homeowners often wonder why there is no fixed cost for a roof repair. The reason is quite simple. There are a multitude of cost components and the quoted price is often NOT the real price – if all the cost components above are taken into consideration. And then the benefits of the proposed repair have to be added to the equation.

If choosing the right roofer at the right price is so simple, we will not have this large section of homeowners who are on their second or third roofer and still are worried sick about their roofs.

  • Choosing the right roof repair price – where Sydney roofers fall over:
The fear of every roofer is falling off a roof.

But most Sydney roofers seem to have no fear of falling over the choice of how much they charge for who they service. Survival of a roofing business depends on a different Cost-Benefit Analysis.

We were cruising across multiple Sydney suburbs (with varying real estate values) last week and my wife asked me: “Is it true that Tradies (and that includes you as a roofer) charge a different price for different suburbs?”

How a roofer answers this question can determine the longevity of their roofing business. Any decent Cost-Benefit Analysis will report that factors like: Which Sydney suburb is the roof repair in; What is the status of the client; Urgency; More… will all point to a different costing for the same type of roof repair.

The correct answer is that it matters where (and for whom) a roof repair is performed in Sydney.

Roofer playing the Long Game at Sydney roof repairs
we may need rope to tie the handshake and make it an unbreakable promise…

Sydney Roof Repair Services Lesson # 3: De-stress with The LONG Game

It is appropriate that because we specialise in repairing Roofs in distress – this level of anxiety is carried over to how we feel every time it rains (whether we are at work or at home).

Stress is an internal mechanism for growth. It is when this grow gets out of control (much like a healthy cell turns into a high growth cancer cell), that suffering happens. Whilst exercise is healthy stress for our bodies, overeating is on the opposite end of the stress spectrum.

I have found that the simple (but stressful) act of turning my phone off is the key to de-stressing against the distress of leaking roofs.

  • The best roofers are ‘pumped-up’ – not ‘stressed-out’:
People (and Sydney roofers are no different) respond well to challenges that they feel they can overcome. There is an excitement to proving that they are up to it.

Overwhelm is when people feel they have lost control. This is the ‘stressed-out’ state.

I have found that training myself to be on the leading-edge of what I do, to be the key to stay in the ‘pumped-up’ state. When I know that I am probably the best person to do something, I can afford to do it when it suits me. Doing things in my own time means that I can give it my full attention. There is no overwhelm.

Being the expert roofer also means that failures will occur – but there will always be another solution on hand. Confidence in working with time to solve any problem is the killer of ‘short-term thinking’.

The alternative of ‘The Long Game’ will then become a viable alternative.

  • When a roof repair becomes a promise:
All marriages begin with a promise. Then that promise instantly struggles to fend off constant threats of erosion.

Threats of trust, changing agendas, ravages of time and more… All these will make it easier to break rather than keep the promise.

It is the same with a roof repair.

Most roof repairs are just transactional. Just like the swipe of the ‘TINDER’ app to satisfy two subsets of a marketplace. Promises are seldom discussed. Truths are seldom told or valued.

For roofing companies who intend to be around for a long time, their roof repairs go beyond the ‘one hit affair’. They make a promise to their clients.  It is ‘for better or worse’.

They will stick around.

  • Gone fishing – the sign of a job well done:
Give a person a fish, and you will end up with a fishing job. Train them how to fish and they will feed themselves for life)

We can only repair a certain number of roofs in our lifetimes.

So, whilst our job is to repair as many roofs as we can, we realise that the long game is to train other roofers (and homeowners who we are not able to serve) the basics of roofing and the incentivise them to continue with their own learning. If we can pass the baton on effectively, everyone can go on their own fishing trip.

We like being redundant.

Jack The Roofer about Sydney Roof Repairs
It is always useful to share knowledge – we never know what we can learn from doing this.

Roof Repair Services in Sydney – final words from Jack the Roofer

Perfection in anything is a dead end. I am quite a long way from perfect and (while I cringe a little) I expect faults that only others see in me, to urge me to do better. I don’t expect all 5-star Google reviews.

The world of information is evolving rapidly with Artificial Intelligence showing up suddenly as the new disruptor. The next challenge for us is to recognise the fake from the TRUTH. Google uses EEAT in its algorithms to sort the database for the world’s information.

Maybe we all need to use this (EEAT) in the future to find the authentic roof repairers out there.

  • Experience:
There are a lot of old roofers in SYDNEY.

Whilst some roofers grow OLD and WISE, most just get old…

Experience can be measured in years. But the best way to measure experience is the volume and quality of learning spanning those years.

Available data over the internet will show that Jack at the Roofing Professionals Westside started roofing in 1999. But just exactly what type of learning happened since then is harder to find.

  • Expertise:
There are also a lot of roof experts in Sydney. Some of them even call themselves ROOF DOCTORS.

Expertise in roof repairs is an easier measure to research. Google does a great job in listing snippets of content that demonstrate expertise. It is therefore quite easy to check out the expertise of Jack the Roofer in the field of roof repairs in Sydney.

  • Authoritativeness:
Authority has been my main weakness. I hate bossing people around. How can I control others when I have enough trouble controlling myself?

I like the alternate “Making an IMPACT” description instead.

  • Trustworthiness:
Trust starts by looking in the mirror.

When I learnt to trust myself, I learnt to trust others.

When I realised that others started to put the trust in me, the circle was complete.

In the Roof repair game, trust seems all tilted against the homeowner. Whilst the roofer demands a deposit before the work starts and does not guarantee an effective roof service, the homeowner has enough trust to part with their money at every point of the transaction.

The Roofing Professionals Westside has a policy of NO deposit and payment after the roof repair service (together with a warranty). This trust that the homeowner will then do the right thing in turn has occasionally backfired on us.

Not everyone pays us properly. But the majority of our clients reward our trust with timely payment and repeat (and referral) work. This is enough to keep us on this path of trusting everyone…

The future of Sydney Roof Repairs - The Roofing Portal
The Roofing Portal will be the FUTURE of roof repairs in Sydney

Last Words

I am writing this post as we close off 2023 and look forward to 2024.

Well researched readers will know that my roof repair business (The roofing Professionals Westside) is now in partnership with The Roofing Portal (as its anchor and founding partner). This partnership will mean a continuity of my ability to service the Sydney community as I pass on what I have learnt over the last decades of my life (both in roof repairs and otherwise) to the younger generation.

From our base in Homebush west, we will continue to build on our core roof repair expertise to serve homeowners within a 20km radius. Our future plans are to bring on more roofing (and other building trade) partners to cover more of the outer suburbs of Sydney and beyond. These partners will also mean more roofing (and building) services outside of our core roof repair expertise.

Thank you for your time (and interest) in reaching the end of this article – and I hope that you have gained some valuable insights into how the Roof Repair Industry in Sydney operates.

You can easily continue your journey with us to The Roofing Portal by booking an appointment.

Otherwise, you can go back to our HOME PAGE.  


Jack the Roofer

Jack Yuen

Jack Yuen (Jack the Roofer) started roofing work in 1999 and have built a career in "roof repair expertise" on Sydney roofs. Jack is a leading voice on how roofs should build, maintained and repaired to provide the best outcomes for both roofers and property owners

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