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Uncovering the Hidden Costs of DIY Roofing Installation!

DIY roofing

Howdy, folks! If you’re reading this, you’re probably considering taking a crack at installing your own roof. I wish you the best of luck. The idea of saving some money and getting a little hands-on sounds pretty appealing, right? But as someone who has been a roofing contractor in Southwest Michigan for over 15 years, let me tell you, there are some hidden costs to DIY roofing you might not be considering.

Understanding the Basics of Roofing Installation

Roofing installation isn’t just about laying down some shingles. It’s a skilled craft that involves correctly installing underlayment, bending flashings, and vents, to name just a few steps. And that’s after ensuring the roof deck itself is in tip-top shape! All these tasks require specific knowledge and experience to ensure they’re done right.  These steps of installation require certain tools and knowledge on proper fasteners to be used in order to maintain warranties and ensure proper installation.

The Initial Financial Appeal of DIY Roofing

I get it; the upfront cost of DIY versus hiring a professional seems pretty stark. You see a price tag for materials at your local home improvement store and compare that to a contractor’s quote, and the DIY route looks like a steal. But let’s get into the nitty gritty and talk about where and what things cost. Also, ask yourself… do you have a good dumpster company?  Haha!

Uncovering the Hidden Costs of DIY Roofing Installation

Inadequate Installation

Do you use slap staples or Stingers on your paper?  In my line of work, I’ve seen DIY roof jobs go south more times than I care to remember. Small errors—like incorrectly installed underlayment, or shingles nailed down improperly—can lead to leaks, wood rot, or even structural damage. Repairing these issues later on can cost far more than hiring a pro in the first place.  With simple roof systems and basic installation of asphalt shingles a DIY project can seem appealing, but even with a “simple” roof installation you will find challenges with executing the work properly.  These can be as simple as not nailing shingles in the proper area, not installing underlayment where it’s required, and more.

Material Mismanagement

Do you know how to load 70# bundles of shingles on your roof? You’ll probably need about 100 bundles or so… lots of trips on a ladder.  Or are you aware on how to avoid waste when cutting shingles and using that waste material properly instead of throwing it into the dumpster? These are things our team has learned thru experience and not something you’ll find often on YouTube.

I once helped a DIY-er who had a full roof package delivered to their home only to realize they would have to hand load it and that alone killed the DIY project, understandable as their home was a 2 story!  Ordering materials accurately is also difficult and the costs to over ordering or ordering un-needed materials can rack up causing additional financial loss, yes some of these things can be returned, others might need to be stored before returning, and other headaches might come up.

Safety Risks and Associated Costs

Roofing is not a job for the faint-hearted or those that are not physically fit. You’re up high, dealing with heavy materials on a steep roof often on warm days which means the temp on the roof can be much higher than on the ground, check out this info from a local Kalamazoo roofing distributor Eikenhout on best times of year to roof (https://eikenhout.com/when-is-the-best-time-for-roof-installation/). One misstep can result in serious injury; not to mention moving heavy materials and using tools you may not be used to. You can see why this is not considered a “safe profession”. The medical expenses and time off work can add up to a heavy toll. I remember a friend who broke his leg falling off a ladder. Character Exteriors started a program called “Stay Grounded” where we provided free gutter cleaning services for local residents unable to do so themselves. You can view a video about that program here: Stay Grounded Kalamazoo Free Gutter Cleaning Service Day

Time Commitment and Lost Productivity

Installing a roof isn’t often a weekend project unless you have a crew, experience, and the tools/resources to get it done fast.  All the hours you put in on the roof project are hours taken from your job, family, or well-deserved time off. I worked with a homeowner who took two weeks off work to DIY his home’s roof—it ended up costing him more in lost wages than hiring us would have cost.

Insurance and Warranty Concerns

Insurance companies aren’t big fans of DIY roof jobs—they’re a risk. A poorly done job could lead to denied future claims due to errors in workmanship that lead to premature failure of the roof system, thus the peril or event that damaged the roof may be denied as the roof is not up to par before the damage occurred.  Also, depending on the manufacturer, the roofing materials may need to be used with other system products to maintain the warranty on the roof and the components.  This is important to those who plan to live and own their property for a long period of time and want to maintain those manufacturer warranties.

The Unique Challenges of Roofing in Southwest Michigan

Roofing in Southwest Michigan has its own set of challenges, disposing of waste is not something that can be done anywhere as an example.  To dispose of the old roof you will need a waste container delivered or the ability to haul heavy loads of waste.  This may seem trivial but honestly is one of the biggest challenges on some projects.  Some homes don’t have a large driveway or access to be able to get a large dumpster on site, we see this often with lake homes and tight neighborhoods.  In these instances we use specialized dump trailers which, the average rental yard may have, but more than likely not.  These are the items I am referencing when I mention resources, one of which is the most important to our company – the Equipter RB400 (click here to locate a local rental option for an Equipter).  

We deal with snow loads, high winds, and baking summers causing lots of movement to roof materials as they are composed of metals, asphalt, etc. All these conditions affect how a roof should be installed and the type of material to be used in or around certain facets of the roof vs others. Get the installation of the roof wrong, and you could be looking at ice dams in winter, or shingles curling in the summer heat much earlier than they should be.

Read more: No More Mess! The Equipter 4000 Roofing Trailer Makes Roofing a Breeze in Southwest Michigan!

Case Studies: When DIY Roofing Goes Wrong

I’ve been called in to fix numerous DIY roofing jobs over the years and it’s never fun.  Often it’s a family member or friend who helped originally only to be nowhere to be found when an issue arises later on, or requires a more experienced installer to repair properly.  I’ve had homeowners begin to tear off their roof and then realize they don’t have the ability to dispose of the waste or the job was much harder/larger than they imagined.   One homeowner had a persistent leak that ended up damaging his ceilings and walls because the flashing was not properly installed. The repairs, including replacing drywall and repainting, far exceeded what he initially saved by doing it himself.  This was a situation that could have been avoided and does shed light on the responsibility of the contractor to highlight these possible perils to the homeowner of DIY roofing installation in West Michigan.

The True Value of Professional Roofing Services

Bringing in a professional for your residential roofing replacement project is almost always a better idea than a DIY solution.  The contractor will have insurance for workers compensation in case of injury, a full crew of experienced professionals who are comfortable working on these projects, the ability to dispose of waste and leftover materials, the ability to safely and efficiently load the materials onto the roof, and the ability to properly flash difficult types of transitions such as chimneys and sidewalls.  The other benefits of hiring a roofing contractor include both workmanship and material warranties, saving your time, and having the peace of mind of a professional completing the project.


Don’t be lured by the siren song of DIY savings. As you can see, the hidden costs of DIY roofing installation can be steep, and the risks high, particularly here in Southwest Michigan. Instead, consider the unparalleled benefits of working with a dedicated and experienced team like Character Exteriors.

Experience and Expertise: At Character Exteriors, we bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to every roofing project. We’re well-versed in all aspects of roofing and familiar with the unique conditions of Southwest Michigan. We understand the importance of doing things right the first time, and we’re equipped to handle any unexpected challenges that might crop up during the project.

Quality Workmanship: Our team of skilled professionals takes pride in delivering the highest quality workmanship. From preparing the roof deck to installing the final shingle, we pay meticulous attention to every detail. This ensures a roof that not only looks great but stands up to the elements, increasing the lifespan of your roof and providing better long-term value.

Safety Assurance: Roofing can be hazardous work, but at Character Exteriors, we prioritize safety above all. We have the necessary safety equipment and training to complete the job without risking injury. And as a fully insured contractor, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re protected against potential liability.

Warranty and Insurance: As certified installers for leading roofing material manufacturers, we offer warranties that a DIY job simply can’t provide. Plus, our professional installation will be favored by home insurance companies, avoiding potential disputes over claims.

Time Savings: Hiring Character Exteriors saves you a significant amount of time and stress. Instead of spending countless hours doing strenuous work, you can relax, confident in the knowledge that your roof is in expert hands.

So if you’re thinking about installing a new roof, consider the hidden costs of doing it yourself. With Character Exteriors, you’ll receive a professional, safe, and high-quality roof that will last for years to come—without any hidden surprises.


Q: Is it cheaper to do your own roofing?

A: While the upfront costs might seem cheaper, the potential hidden costs of DIY roofing, like repairs for errors, safety risks, and lost time, can end up making it more expensive.

Q: Is roofing hard to do?

A: Roofing involves specialized knowledge and skills, and is physically demanding. Mistakes can lead to significant issues down the line, including leaks and structural damage.

Q: Can you install your own roof and still get a warranty?

A: Most material manufacturers only honor warranties if their products are installed by certified professionals. DIY installation could void the warranty.

Q: How long does it typically take for a DIY roof installation?

A: The length of a DIY roofing project can vary greatly based on the size and complexity of the roof, as well as the DIYer’s skill level. However, without professional experience, it can take significantly longer than a professional installation, sometimes even weeks.

Q: What are the most common mistakes made during DIY roof installation?

A: Common mistakes include improper installation of underlayment or flashings, incorrect shingle alignment, and inadequate sealing of roof penetrations. All of these can lead to leaks, moisture damage, and reduced roof lifespan.

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