5 Thing I Wish I Would Have Known as a Rookie Roofer

Just getting started in roofing? We talked with a roofing industry veteran to find out five things he wishes he had known on his first day.

5 Things I Wish I Would've Known as a Rookie RooferConstruction Pro Tips

Roofing can be hot, hard work. There’s really no getting around that. But it’s also an absolutely essential part of home building and a viable career option. We talked with Pat Overson, who has been running a roofing company in Mesa, Arizona since 1982, to find out what he wishes he had known as he began his career in the trade.

Ask around

One of the best resources available to people in the trades, especially for someone just starting out, is going to be the people around you. Even if you work for a smaller company, there should be people with years of experience around jobsites. Pat said to pay attention to the people that other workers tend to gravitate towards and not to be afraid to ask them for some help.

“Ask experienced roofers to train you by complimenting them first. Say something like, “You are one of the best roofers in the company and I wonder if you would give me some tips on the best way to (fill in the blank)…”

Read everything you can about roofing

Pat recommends that rookie roofers become avid readers (and watchers) of any and all educational roofing material. Here are some of his recommended resources for rookie roofers:

  • Manufacturer’s product specifications
  • Trade magazines
  • Home improvement books and articles
  • YouTube videos
  • State, City and County regulations & specifications

“Volunteer verbally -and in writing- to go to training seminars, educational trade shows, manufacturer sponsored educational programs, and safety seminars,” Pat also suggested. “And become a certified applicator for as many roofing products as possible.”

Keep yourself safe

According to OSHA, “falls” are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Due to the nature of their work, roofers are at an especially high risk of sustaining injuries from falls.

“If you do not feel safe on any roof or job, stop work and call your supervisor. No roof or job is worth risking life or limb,” said Pat.

Invest in a truck and dump trailer

There are two major things that Pat thinks young roofers should immediately start saving money to purchase: a clean, well-running truck, and a dump trailer.

“These tools prepare you for going out on your own if necessary in case of a slow down or lay off,” Pat said.

A dependable truck can be the difference between being on time to work and sitting on the side of the road in a broken down vehicle. Having a truck and a dump trailer also gives you flexibility and enables you to do side-jobs on the weekend or during times when business is slow. Side jobs are a great way to gain more experience and practice your new career while also making some extra cash.

Be early and dependable

“Plan your doctor and dentist appointments for after hours as much as possible, and give proper and timely notice in the event of unavoidable time-off,” said Pat.

Especially at the beginning of your career, try to be ten-to-fifteen minutes early to the first jobsite of the day. That builds in a buffer in the case of traffic or vehicle break-downs. Also be sure to communicate clearly with your supervisors to make sure they know when you are taking time off, whether for a vacation or if you are sick. The last thing you want is everyone else on a job looking around and wondering why you are not there because you forgot to let them know about your two-week trip to the Bahamas.

“There is no excuse for a no call or a no show,” said Pat.

About the expert

Pat Overson has been running Overson Roofing in the Mesa, Arizona area since 1982.