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-   -   Residential flat roof. Repair, replace or remodel? (

jkeck3 04-21-2014 12:26 PM

Residential flat roof. Repair, replace or remodel?
Hello all. I am new to the HouseRepairTalk forums. I generally only stalk forums, and try not to bother others with my issues, but I think this problem is unique enough that I may require some input. If you are only interested in the background of the roof, skip the first paragraph below, as I am just introducing myself and my home.

I bought a home in Sandusky, Ohio about a year and a half ago. The home is in a great location for my family, and we got a killer deal! The home had absolutely ZERO updates since the time it was built in 1980. Just to give a little perspective, every bathroom had calico carpet and every ceiling light was on a switched outlet with the "chain" style wiring run along the ceiling and down the wall. My family and I spent one entire year completely gutting and remodeling the interior to our desired appearance. We knocked out two walls, replaced all of the carpet, tiled every bathroom, tiled the whole kitchen, installed laminate flooring on the first floor, finished the basement, installed a whole new kitchen, rewired every light, and added additional lighting. We did all of the remodels ourselves with the exception of carpet installation. We are true DIYers/penny pinchers, and we cannot be happier with the outcome and money we saved! Now, onto our newest problem....

We have not touched the exterior of the house. It has a flat, rolled rubber roof. The house is 2 stories. It has cedar shake shingles down the second story (I have attached a photo of the outside of our home). The roof does not currently leak at all. However, we are having other issues. The "roof vents" between the top of the cedar shakes and the flat roof never had hardware cloth or anything to prevent critters from entering the space between the ceiling of our home and the roof. We know we have had squirrels in there and even over 100 bats (which we evicted last spring). There are still some bats taking up residence, and really, who knows what else... So, my thought, is to make sure there are no more critters and that there nests, droppings, etc. are cleaned up, we should remove the entire flat roof. Once the rafters are exposed, remove all the old insulation and critter junk, possibly treat the rafters with a mild bleach? Then what? Do we put another flat roof on and replace the cedar shake shingles? Or do we have an architect remodel the whole exterior for a pitched roof? I just don't have any idea what our next step should be, but we can't live with the critters much longer and need to start planning our next move! Any help, advice, etc. will be much appreciated (even condolences, if you think the outlook is that bad...). Thanks in advance!!!

beachguy005 04-21-2014 01:02 PM

I've never been a fan of Mansard roofs unless on very large buildings. If you like the look and don't want to spend a lot of money I would just repair the vents and any other access points. I would also get rid of the trees so close to the house that give a ladder to the squirrels.
Hire an exterminator to make sure everything is out. I don't see a rational for cutting open the roof just to clean the attic.

jkeck3 04-21-2014 01:18 PM

Thanks for your input beachguy! Luckily, this is an older photo, and I have already removed those two trees (the only thing I have done to the outside of the house). My concern with just putting hardware cloth over the vents, is that we will trap some critter inside the "attic" space. I'm not sure I want that smell... If we (or contractor) take the whole roof off, we can guarantee that the pests are gone and properly vent the roof...

nealtw 04-21-2014 09:56 PM

Usually it is esier and cheeper to re and re the ceiling than the roof. Re-disigning the roof could get pricey as the siding would have to be done on the top half of the upper walls which might lead to siding the whole house. How old do you think the roof is, I would have expected it to be tar and gravel from the eighties, so it might be newer.
If you can post a photo of the roof itself and Oldog will be along with his thoughts on it.

oldognewtrick 04-22-2014 01:23 AM

:welcome: to House Repair Talk!

If you can, post some pics of the upper flat roof.

jkeck3 04-22-2014 12:54 PM

Hey guys! Thanks for the replies! I don't know when I will get up there to get a picture (maybe later this week), but I will attach a link to a satellite photo. The roof is black rubber with a metallic paint type seal on all of the seams (I think this may have been added at some point because the roof leaked?). Makes for a very weird looking roof when looking at satellite. Thanks again guys!

nealtw 04-22-2014 01:22 PM

Interesting hood: I like the house on Marshal Ave under the power lines. Pictures will help.

jkeck3 04-22-2014 01:36 PM

I will definitely work on getting some pictures. That house on Marshall is a Tudor style castle... spires and all... very unique home.

jkeck3 04-23-2014 06:18 AM

3 Attachment(s)
I have attached a couple pictures of the roof. Still not the best, they are from the home inspection, but I haven't been able to get up there myself. I have noticed that there is a little bit of leaking (yellow staining) in the garage, and I can see that it has been previously painted over as well. I'm thinking it may be a good time to replace (before I start seeing staining elsewhere...)

oldognewtrick 04-23-2014 06:33 AM

I'm not a big fan of rubber roofing on residential properties. There is NO warranty when applied to a home from the MFG's. If this were my house, I would first make sure you have no areas where you have ponding water. Then have a T.P.O. or a 2 ply base and modified bitumen cap sheet installed. Both of which can give you warranties from the MFG.

Single ply rubber roofs have an average life span of 10-15 years. T.P.O.'s and mod-bits come in colors. If the previous owner had a problem with the lap seams, I would have cleaned the seams with weathered membrane cleaner, applied E.P.D.M. primmer and covered the seams with cover tape. That would have been a better, albeit more costly, repair.

Seams on T.P.O.'s are heat welded, creating a monolithic sheet on the roof. Rubber seams are glued, and can come apart.

If you can safely access the roof, take some pics of the edges, seams, transitions from flat to vertical and pics of the roof penetrations. If you are not comfortable getting up there, call a reputable local roofing contractor to give you an opinion of the condition of the existing roof system.

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