Many self-builders – perhaps even a majority, 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: choosing to build without the backup of a builder and taking on a project that in most cases is way outside their normal life experience. Most are successful. Most 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. And 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.

Listing the tasks of each trade is one thing. But all but a very few overlap to some degree and it’s important to understand the grey areas between, which can be the responsibility of a builder but which, in their absence, often falls to the self-builder.

The Roofer: What do they need on site?

  • 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

Who 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

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


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.

What do they cost?

Roofers expect to earn approx £130 per day. Labourers cost around £80 per day.

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