Election Section

About the House: Ask Matt

Friday December 09, 2005

Dear Matt: 

Help! My house has a flat “built-up” silver roof which was replaced 14 years ago. I now have multiple leaks: one in the kitchen which comes through the ceiling and a few in the bedroom addition which show up as puddles on the floor in at least three places around the room. I didn’t discover the bedroom leaks until recently when I pulled up the wall to wall carpet because it was soaked in one corner. I think these leaks have been going on for awhile so I’m sure I have damage to more than just the roof. But back to the roof—I’ve had various roofers come to look and give me estimates and now I’m more confused than ever. Firms that I’ve read about as being good have said on the one hand, “Most of the roof looks good, we can patch it for $650 and it will most likely take care of the problem,” to “This roof is not worth fixing,” and the recommendation to replace it with a single-ply IB roof to the tune of $16,000. Most of the roof does look good but there are multiple cracks around the perimeter and the areas around the downspouts look particularly funky and have been patched a few times already by friends. One person suggested a netting around the perimeter lip that was sealed with roofing gunk. That would cost $1,500. Any suggestions? 

Mary Baker 


Dear Mary: 

Sounds like you need a new roof. Sadly most built-up roofs fail in the first 15 years and require replacement or additional layers. I do not favor adding layers to such a roof as it is already quite heavy. The sure sign that you’re ready for a new roof is the fact that you have leaks in a number of places. Were you to have just one leak, I might suggest a repair but you’re no longer fighting the good fight and it’s time to raise the white flag. The idea of you getting an IB CPA (Co-polymer Alloy) roof at the price you’ve stated is exciting but might be overkill. A modified bitumen roof is also quite a good choice for very low slope situations and can last much longer than the built-up you have now. Since IB roofs are only installed by certified installers, you might not hear about alternate choices from that particular roofer (if they’re fully engaged in the IB business). Since I don’t know the size of your roof or other critical issues, it’s hard to gauge whether the IB price was competitive but modified bitument will probably be less and quite viable. 

Best of luck, 

Matt Cantor 



Got a question about home repairs and inspections? Send them to Matt Cantor, in care of East Bay Home & Real Estate, at realestate@berkeleydailyplanet.com.u