Is my roof sound?


Q. I had my house roofing redone. It’s an older house with cedar shakes. Upon completion, I went into the attic and noticed a lot of nails that weren’t nailed into the rafters and the sheathing end joints butting between rafters, attached to nothing. Also, furring strips weren’t removed, allowing sunlight to come in at the end of the roof. On occasion, I have water leaks downstairs. I questioned this repair with the Building Department, and was told it was my responsibility to get a building permit. Do you think the contractor should have informed me? Should the furring strips be removed before the sheathing is installed? Is there a specific code for how many nails should be applied per panel? A lot of non-compliance construction and repairs have been done since Hurricane Sandy. Suddenly everybody’s a contractor.

A. Only a few villages require a permit for re-roofing, and even though your municipality doesn’t require a permit to re-shingle, in order to get them to inspect, you’d need a permit. They aren’t a public advice service, and don’t just show up out of curiosity unless the job looks like it’s more than just shingle replacement.

You seem to know more than the average consumer about the subject, and based on the words you used, I was wondering why you didn’t scrutinize the work more closely or hire an independent consultant to regularly check work. Relying on a building inspector for technical advice isn’t really what they’re there for. They look for code-compliant framing, excavation and the finalized insulation, but they usually don’t check a specific detail and don’t just drop in.

Hire a reliable independent, and make it clear to the subcontractor that their work has to be approved by the independent before checks are signed. Most people will never do this, because they need to save money and assume that their tax dollars provide this level of inspection. Unfortunately, doing the job a second time doesn’t save money. I keep hearing from people that their contractor, plumber or electrician told them they don’t need a permit. Why you trust a person who doesn’t want to be hindered by scrutiny or paperwork is questionable, but lesson learned: You should have asked your Building Department.

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