If you are managing your own project, it pays to understand how the different trades work together, when they are needed on site and what they will need when they get there. Here we focus on working with trades for the roofing stage of your project.

Many self builders – perhaps even most, and especially those on a low budget – choose to build using subcontractors.

In some ways, this is like learning to swim in the deep end. Some who take on the task will experience a very steep learning curve that involves mistakes, delays and misunderstandings on site, which the repeat self builder will make certain never happen again.

Learning the sequence of events on a building site is invaluable. Learning what each trade does and where their responsibilities begin and end is vital. Furthermore, learning that the critical path in building can so easily be thrown off course – and how to get it back on track again – is essential.

Roofers: What Do They Do?

  • Cover in roof with underlay and rough batten
  • Fix GRP valleys or attend plumber fixing lead valleys
  • Bed or fix undercloak to verges
  • Fix counter battens if necessary
  • Gauge and fix tiling battens to suit tiles or slates
  • Load out tiles/slates
  • Lay roof tiles/slates, nailing as appropriate
  • Lay valley tiles if appropriate
  • Fix verge tiles/slates
  • Interleave upstand and cover flashings to chimney
  • Interleave lead soakers
  • Attend to and interleave vent pipe skirts
  • Fix or bed ridge and hip tiles
  • Point up space between underside of tiles/slates and undercloak
  • Clean off excess or spilled mortar

What Other Trades Do They Work With?

  • They work with the carpenter to establish fascia levels
  • They work with the plumbers and bricklayers to interleave leadwork and flashings
  • They liaise with the plumber on soil vent pipes that carry through the roof

How do I Find a Roofer?

The best way of finding the right person is by recommendation, and the best recommendation is always going to be that of another self-builder. But other tradespeople, working alongside a roofer, such as the carpenter or bricklayers, may be able to recommend the right person. This trade has to mesh in and cooperate with several other trades and it’s important that they get along with each other and can trust each other’s work.

Other options:

  • Builders’ merchants and specialist suppliers will be dealing with roofers all the time and they may well be prepared to recommend somebody to you, too.
  • There are also supply and fix roofing companies who can often offer remarkably good deals where they use the same teams of people on a regular basis and can therefore regulate the prices paid for the labour.
  • Look at their previous work and talk to their previous customers.
  • The National Federation of Roofing Contractors (www.nfrc. co.uk) may be a good source of names, particularly when looking to install a green roof or carry out specialist work to a listed building, for instance.

What Equipment Do They Need?

  • All of the materials, not forgetting the important ancillary materials, such as nails and fixings
  • A good scaffold, preferably left over from the bricklayers and others
  • A hoist to get tiles up to the top lift
  • Any lead soakers, upstands and flashings will also be required

When Are They Needed?

They’ll need to come in between the tenth and twelfth weeks and may be there between one and a half and three weeks, depending on the chosen roof covering.

How Much Do They Cost?

Roofers expect to earn approx £150-£200 per day. Labourers cost around £100 per day. It’s best to avoid paying on a day rate; instead ask them for a total price.

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