It is important in life to say NO to things.
That leaves us with the things that we can say “YES – Bring it on!”
I started off in the roofing business saying YES to everything. I tried all sorts of roofing work. I failed at some and succeeded in others. On several occasions, I almost gave up.
Until I learnt how to say NO
There is a common saying that goes… “If You Try To Be Everything To Everyone, You’ll Be Nothing To No One.”
As a small roof repair business based in Sydney’s inner west, I have found this saying to be the ‘guiding light’ that has saved us many times over. We do not have the capacity to do all roofing work – and why would we want to if there is only a small section of the roofing market that we are very good at, and a lot of areas that we are pretty useless at.
So, these are currently roofing services that we do not like to provide:
Our crew size and long waiting times means that a new roof will not be put up in time to suit your building schedule. We will only delay your progress. So we want to say upfront that you should be looking at another roofing contractor who has larger crews and are willing to program their work to suit your schedule.
But while we do not install new roofs, we have a lot of experience repairing them. We therefore specialise in repairing leaks to new roofs (and we have a lot of enquiries regarding these) – when the builder’s roofer has either given up or have gone broke (this is quite frequent also).
And most of there slate roofs are very old and approaching the end of their effective lives. Therefore, our recommendation would be a replacement with a colorbond roof anyway.
Therefore, apart from one tiler, all my other roofers are metal roofers. They have all learned to ‘cross-skill’ and even though they can do repairs to tile roofs quite confidently, they do not like the heavy physical nature of installing new tile roofs.
I call them ‘soft’. They respond by saying that they are ‘smart’.
I hate conflict.
So, no new tile roofs.
We only repair tile roofs. Some new and some old. It is quite ironical that my ‘cross-trained’ roofers can repair a leaking tile roof better than a typical roof tiler.
There are plenty of plumbers in Sydney who put up metal fascias and gutters (including downpipes). They do it every day and have the specialised know-how and equipment. And have a pricing advantage over us.
We are a lot more pedantic with our gutter work – preferring to use the external bracket system rather than the cheaper internal bracket default.
We see a lot of gutter overflow problems caused by the internal gutter brackets trapping leaves. These brackets also pull the back of the gutter tight against the fascia and eliminate any gap between these two elements. Any gap between the back of the gutter and the fascia will help in preventing water overflowing onto the eaves.
That is why we prefer the external bracket system that automatically provides a gap between the back of the gutter and the fascia.
There are some things in life that ‘Can’t be helped’.
… Which means repairing and putting up gutters can often become an incidental inclusion in our work. When we replace roofs, it is simpler for us to do the guttering too. When a gutter is causing a leak into the house, we have to come up with solutions.
Therefore, we sometimes end up doing fascia, gutters and downpipes – so that we can provide a ‘one-stop’ solution.
We prefer to leave asbestos roofs alone. And leave it to more qualified contractors to remove the asbestos.
An asbestos removal contractor will:
That is a lot of work.
We have done many asbestos roof jobs in the past. Even though we organise an asbestos removal contractor to strip the roof, it takes a lot of extra planning because we are not able to put on the new (usually colorbond) roof until the monitoring company has given the ‘all clear’.
That means working late into the afternoon to ensure that the whole roof is covered and waterproofed.
Restoring a roof usually means that the roof is not leaking. The requirement for a roof restoration is sold as a need to return the condition of the roof to its former glory of a shining new roof.
The sad fact is that most roof restorations do nothing more than lighten your wallet.
Restoring a roof is nothing like restoring a car.
Car enthusiasts will strip the vehicle down to its chassis and start rebuilding from there. At the end of this project of love, a car is restored to its former glory.
When a roof restorer gives you a roof restoration, all you get will be one or several (depending on how much you pay) coats of roofing paint.
A roof restoration company will tell you:
They don’t tell you that they do not strip the roof tiles off the roof, clean the surface for painting, apply primer and top coat with the recommended drying periods, then re-install the roof tiles.
They don’t remove the ridge capping and re-install on new bedding and pointing.
They just pressure wash the exposed section of the roof tiles and apply coats of paint.
They don’t tell you that sometimes, the newly restored roof will develop new leaks. And that fixing these new leaks are not their responsibility.
They don’t tell you that the manufacturer’s warranty depends on correct application of the paint.
They don’t tell you that if the new paint peels, they will probably not be around to honour the warranty anyway.
They don’t tell you that they know nothing about real estate values and how a new looking roof can add nothing to the sale value of a house.
They don’t tell you that most insurance companies do not consider a coat of paint to be classified as proper roof maintenance.
We do not consider a roof restoration to be a value proposition. That is why we do not offer this service.
These are roofs waiting for accidents to happen. When these roofs develop a leak, It is quite impossible to do an effective repair.
We refuse to do any work to membrane roofs because we are not skilled enough.
We do have repair options. They usually involve installing a metal roof over the leaking membrane roofs. We also think these roofs should have had a metal roof at the very start.
There are specialist companies who roam around Sydney with special tools and they do a good job of cleaning gutters. We are not one of these companies.
Gutter cleaning should be a regular roof maintenance activity that is done a few times a year. Specialist gutter cleaning companies will put your gutters on a regular cleaning cycle.
We fix roof leaks.
Therefore, our services are heavily skewed to this discipline.
When we go out for roof inspections, this is one of the first things that we say.
From that point onwards, we are like roof detectives. All the questions that we ask is to get us closer to finding out what is causing the leak. Then when we climb onto the roof, the leak detection mode switches on. This is then replaced by the solution mode as we think of the best way to fix the roof leak.
Somehow, we have to come up with a solution. This then translates to a quote to fix the leak.
Most roofs in Sydney are either tiled or metal. Usually, a typical house has a tiled roof at the front and a metal roof at the rear. That means to be a good roof repairer, we have to be able to repair both tile and metal roofs.
Very often, the leak is between the tile and metal roofs.
On any typical day, my roofers are out on jobs fixing roof leaks. It has become our ‘Bread and Butter”.
Some days, we find roofs that are at the end of their lives (or just don’t provide suitable service) and are not economical to repair. In this case, we go to the next solution…
The protective coating has failed and the bare metal is exposed to the air and water and these two elements cause the steel to rust. If the protective coating does not fail, the metal roof will never rust.
Most metal roof coatings are ‘sacrificial”. The coating eventually wears thin and no longer does its job. This usually means that both sides of the metal roof sheet start rusting at the same time.
It does not make sense to paint a rusty roof to make it last much longer – because the underside is already rusty and cannot be easily painted.
It is far more effective to replace the rusty roof with a colorbond roof. This also gives the opportunity to install new anticondensation building blanket to keep the roof cavity cooler and drier.
Not only do we replace rusty roofs – we also replace newly installed roofs.
It makes no sense.
But we often see corrugated metal roofs installed a low pitches. These roofs leak – and the only practical solution is to pull the roof off and replace it with a ‘kliplok’ type roof that can cope with low pitches.
If a tile roof needs to be replaced, we will always ‘push’ for a colorbond roof replacement. Although our opinions on colorbond roofs can be quite subjective, there are instances where a tile roof has to be replaced by a metal roof.
Low pitched tile roofs do not work well, There is nothing that can be done to stop these roofs from leaking – except replacement by a metal roof.
Trees and tile roofs do not mix well. Not only can old branches crash through roof tiles, the water courses of the roof tiles choke can also up with leaf debris and cause leaks.
That is why we often offer the solution of replacing roof tiles with colorbond.
You can get away with a rusty gutter along the eaves of the roof. But you cannot escape from the roof leaks caused by rusted box gutters.
The water that drains into a box gutter is trapped inside a roof and the only way out is via the downpipe or an overflow spout. A rust hole will also let water out – but is usually out into the ceiling cavity and likely to collapse the ceiling.
Never let a box gutter get too rusty.
Never let the downpipe get blocked up.
Always have some overflow provision along the box gutter.
Never put a replacement box gutter over the top of the old one.
Never have the building blanket hanging over the side of the box gutter.
Always turn down the roof sheeting at the box gutter.
Always have fall along the box gutter towards the outlet.
…………………. With such a long list of box gutter rules, something usually goes wrong.
That is why we often get called out to look at leaking box gutters.
There is a multitude of skylights installed on Sydney roofs and we have found the old Velux range to be the most likely victims of water penetration. Velux skylights are so highly engineered that it is prone to installation error.
Leaves and skylights do not mix well and because hardly anyone goes to the trouble of regularly cleaning at the skylight flashings, sudden leakage in heavy rain is very common.
Whether it is a leaking skylight or a new skylight, attention to the flashing is critical. We have learn this from repairing many hundreds of skylights.
The ridge capping on tile roofs get loose over time because the concrete bedding that supports them develop cracks. This can mean ridge caps sliding off the roof or water seepage causing roof leaks.
Normally, a tile roof will need the ridges repaired by repointing with a flexible pointing every 15 to 20 years. Sometimes, the old bedding has to be removed and the ridge capping re-bedded before the pointing work is carried out. This is especially true if weep holes need to be installed.
Since there are so many tiles roofs in Sydney going through this 15 to 20 year cycle, we are always doing this repointing work.
That is why we often do specialised flashings to repair roof leaks.
Chimney caps and wall flashings appear on our work schedules quite often – as well as transition flashings between different roofing materials.
Intellectual property should be the exact opposite. It should be free and shared amongst the community.
Human progress has been made possible through shared knowledge.
Even so, the value of intellectual property should not be scoffed at. It takes a lot of hard work to come up with useful knowledge.
In the last 20 years of repairing roof leaks in Sydney, we at The Roofing Professionals Westside have made many costly mistakes and have also seen many faulty roofs put up by other roofers. We know a lot about Sydney roofs.
While there is a commercial advantage in keeping all this intellectual property secret, the payoff is greater for us if we do not keep these secrets to the grave.
My aim is to redefine what roof repairs mean in Sydney and the only way to do this is to share what I have learnt with the community.
Together, we can grow a new generation of better roofers which will translate to a lot less leaking roofs.
So, help yourself to all the free (but valuable) resources on this website. It is for me to give and for you to discern.