If you fancy working outside and have a head for heights, then a career as a roofer might be for you.
Duties of a Roofer
Roofers repair and install roofs of various types of construction on residential and industrial buildings. Some roofers specialise in, say, repairs only or certain types of roof and may also specialise in using specific materials. For example, thatched roofing is a particular specialism.
There are various types of roofing materials – built up felt is one of the most common and is used to make flat roofs. Other types such as slate and tile, GRP fibreglass and EPDM rubber may be tackled by roofing companies – or they may specialise in just a few types.
Roofers may also work on replacing, repairing and maintaining guttering, soffits and fascias as part of their overall roof and roof-related services. Other maintenance activities such as moss removal might be offered along with typical roof repairs such as replacing slipped or cracked slates and tiles, and fixing holes in felt roofs.
Roofers need to know how to provide accurate quotations as most jobs start with a ‘pricing up’ for the customer. The ability to size up the situation, decide what materials are required and their cost, and the time taken for the work need to be factored in.
The ability to price accurately so as not to underquote yet still be price competitive is a key ability for roofers.
Like much working activity, roofing is heavily governed by health and safety legislation and procedures, and it’s important to be thorough. It’s not only the actual work undertaken, but the preparation such as setting up the site, using scaffolding and ladders, and ensuring safety equipment is working as it should and being used properly at all times.
Working effectively as a team with co-workers is imperative to maintain safety standards, so a high degree of concentration and accuracy is essential.
Many people enter the trade and learn on the job; perhaps they’ll start as labourers and gradually work their way up to becoming a roofer. There are also some commercial training courses.
The typical progression is to start as a labourer or general ‘site dogsbody’ then take on a few basic roofing tasks under the guidance of an experienced roofer before taking on more complex activities and working without supervision. Eventually you’ll work your way to being a fully-fledged roofer.
You may seek to specialise – perhaps in roof repairs or working on types of roof requiring particular expertise such as slate or thatched?
Most roofers are self-employed, even if they work for a company as opposed to running their own ‘branded’ business. It’s common to be a self-employed contractor to a roofing company – or maybe more than one – and this could be a small local outfit or a large roofing company working on several large projects at any given time.
Some roofers might set up their own business; if so, considerations such as buying and running company vehicles including vans or more likely open back trucks manifest themselves.
Insurance is an important consideration to protect yourself and people who may be working for you, even if they’re self-employed; it’s vital to insure yourself properly to meet public liability and employer’s liability responsibilities. Specialist insurance brokers covering the roofing industry, such as Broker Power, can tailor a package to suit your circumstances, and cover can extend to insuring your equipment and tools.
Is roofing for me?
A good question to answer is, do you stick to outdoor pursuits whatever the weather? For example, if you go fishing – do you still go when it’s raining or windy? Do you go out jogging when it’s cold and wet? If yes, then a career in roofing might work out; if not, then think seriously as to whether it’s the right step to take.
Nick Watson is the Chief Operating Officer of Broker Power, which provides roofing contracting insurance to UK based roofers.