Stop the Leak: Roofing Installation Tips for Philly Homeowners

Nothing lasts forever, and that includes the roof on your home. If it’s time to fix up or replace your home’s roof, there are a few things you need to know. If you live in a historic home in Philly, here’s how you can meet the necessary requirements.

What stands between the valuable possessions inside your home and the wind, rain, and snow? Your roof. For that reason, you want a roof that’s sturdy and leak-proof. Since even the best materials break down over time, regular maintenance and repair will help protect your home and possessions from damage. In some cases, you may need to replace the entire roof for best results. While the $6,400 average cost of roofing installation in Philadelphia can seem steep, in the long run, it’s less pricey than having to fix water damage throughout the house or having to replace your belongings.

Choosing Materials

You’ll find a variety of roof styles among Philadelphia homes. Many rowhomes in the city have what are called “flat roofs.” The roofs aren’t truly flat, though, they are actually slightly pitched to allow water to run off. Typically, flat roofs are made of materials such as modified bitumen, built-up roofing, or rubber. Modified bitumen and built-up roofing are similar and consist of layers of waterproof materials and asphalt that can be rolled out over the roof.

Some buildings have sloped roofs, which have a more noticeable angle. Sloped roofs can be covered with a wider range of materials. The budget-friendly choice is usually asphalt. In exchange for being inexpensive, asphalt roofing materials typically have the shortest shelf life. More pricey roofing materials include slate and tile. While they cost more upfront, they also tend to last much longer.

Roof Rules

Philadelphia has a number of rules governing roofs. If you’re in a historic home or district, such as Old City, you may also be limited in what you can do to your roof and will have to get approval before any major roofing installation project. For example, you probably won’t be allowed to install asphalt shingles on your roof if it’s a historic property, according to the Old City Historic District manual, as the asphalt will detract from the historic value of the home. Your goal when repairing a historic roof is to keep it as close to the original as possible.

The International Building Code, which applies in Philly, has strict rules when it comes to replacing or recovering your roof. If you have a flat roof covered with modified bitumen or built-up roofing, you can cover the initial layer of materials with a second layer. But, you’ll have to remove and re-install the roofing materials if there are already two coatings of the same material. You can’t cover up materials made of slate, clay, or wood with another layer. Instead, you have to pull out the first layer before adding the new roof. You can reuse some of the existing materials, as long as they aren’t damaged.

Finding a Contractor

Roofing installation isn’t a do-it-yourself project in Philadelphia. It requires a building permit and a licensed professional to do the job well and within the confines of the law. You can search for a licensed roofer in your area using the city’s website. Since a license just tells part of the story, you might want to do a bit more digging to find out as much as you can about your contractors before you decide to hire them. Look at review sites and ask for references to make sure you’re hiring the best person for the job.

Image Source: Flickr/Seth Werkheiser


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  1. Stop the Leak: Roofing Installation Tips for Philly Homeowners | Donna Dagley's Blog
    August 20, 2014

    […] Roofing installation isn’t a do-it-yourself project in Philadelphia. It requires a building permit and a licensed professional to do the job well and within the confines of the law. You can search for a licensed roofer in your area using the city’s website. Since …read more […]

  2. wendell
    November 24, 2014


    tnx for info!

  3. bonobosmarcos
    January 19, 2015

    I have been on the lookout for a new roof recently. I think I found the company I want to use but it is still a toss up for the material. Since I don’t have an antique home I don’t have to worry about the regulations surrounding asphalt tiles, however I think I want a metal roof anyways. All the benefits surrounding a metal roof far outweigh the price point in my opinion.

  4. Tim Payne
    May 19, 2015

    Very good article – informative and giving enough details. I was looking for tips like this so I can decide how to start the roof repair project I was thinking of. I also found this site very informative

  5. Earl Guest
    May 20, 2015

    I’ve been looking for such details for a long time. i find this post very informative. Here I also find some good tips.

  6. Gregory Willard
    July 7, 2016

    I had no idea that asphalt was a budget friendly material to use on a roof. My wife and I have been wanting to have our roof redone for a while now. I will have to research a little more and see what material would work best for our house and the area.

  7. Tony The Roofer
    August 20, 2016

    Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and detailed information you offer. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  8. David Mckeage
    May 18, 2017

    Thanks, This is great piece of content. I appreciate effort

  9. Rick Taylor
    October 13, 2017

    The biggest obstacle homeowners face when looking to fix or replace their roof is choosing the right person to do the job. After a damaging storm, they need to quickly get back to normal and perform the necessary roofing repairs. But that doesn’t mean they should just choose the first contractor who knocks on their door. Finding a contractor who is trustworthy, honest, and professional.

    Please keep posting and keep us updated.Thank You!! 🙂

  10. Ivy Baker
    October 24, 2017

    This is some really good information about roofing. I liked that you talked about how you need to get good materials for your roof. The home I just moved into is kind of old and it might need a new roof soon. So, I should start looking into roof materials.

  11. Tony Rizzo
    April 11, 2018

    This is an excellent article on stopping roof leaking and roof installation Amy. We have many of the same issues in Orlando. Appreciate your research into this article.


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