For much of California, this year’s El Nino will be a relief. Although the long-term drought problems won’t go away, El Nino and the heavy rains it will bring will provide some breathing room, and do some work to bring snowpack to a somewhat normal level. It is expected that the cyclical weather pattern will bring considerably more rain to the Southern California region, especially the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Already, huge storms have lashed San Diego, and it is expected to increase as we roll into the new year.

We’ve talked about a few things you can do to prepare your residential rehab property for El Nino, but there is one area that we really want to get deeply into, and that’s a leaky roof. Chances are, if you have a home in this region, you may not have thought too much about a leaky roof. People in Oklahoma probably never thought about seismic protection; and it rarely crosses your mind what to do if there is too much rain. But just as Tornado Alley has to start prepping for earthquakes, El Nino means that traditionally dry regions have to worry about leaky roofs. Here’s what you need to know.

A Leaky Roof Can Cause Major Damage

A leaky roof isn’t inconvenient; it can do huge damage to your property as you are trying to get it on the market. If untreated, it can cause rotting throughout rafters and support beams, can cause walls or ceilings to crack, and can lead to mold and fungus. The latter aren’t just gross, they are unhealthy, and very few buyers can overlook them. Mold is a huge red flag to say away from a house.

Finding the Leak

In the movies, the leak comes straight down from the roof and into a brimming soup pot. It’s not so simple in real life. Most leaks appear in the form of water stains clouding their way down a wall or across a ceiling, and the end point isn’t necessarily where the water is coming in. Water always takes the path of least resistance, and if it enters your house through one spot, it might snake its way down beams or across rafters until it starts to pool and spread.  Here are a few tips to make it easier.

  • Start where you can get to the highest indoor point. For the sake of this example, you have traced the beginning of the water stain to a point in the attic. That’s where you should really start. If you have to go to the roof, that will work too, but it is easier and more effective from inside.  
  • Go uphill. Water runs downhill, so the leak will never start from a lower spot. For our example, let’s say that you’ve found the water halfway up the roof. Barring an anomaly, you don’t have to worry about anything below that.
  • Look for obvious ingress points. Chimneys, dormers, vents, skylights, and plumbing are all usual suspects. It is in fact unusual for water to leak into through a large stretch of shingles. If the shingles are put on poorly, that might be the culprit, but it is most likely in the spaces where there is already a hole, and the seal isn’t totally secure.

Cost to Fix a Leaky Roof

Fixing a leaky roof doesn’t have to break the bank. For most jobs, you’ll need the following:

  1. Plywood: About $20 per sheet for ⅝” thickness.
  2. Shingles: A box of shingles that covers 100 square feet usually runs around $100. These are generally bought in bulk.
  3. Roof cement: more important when fixing areas around chimneys and such, but generally $22 a gallon.
  4. Roofing Nails: A roll of nails will set you back about $60

A good rule of thumb for fixing a leaky roof is that it is going to cost somewhere between $1.50 and $2.00 per foot. Of course, that’s if you are doing a whole roof, and can scale. Smaller projects will have a variable price.

In our next article, we’ll talk about the actual mechanics of fixing a leaky roof. You may not think it is important, but you don’t want mold and other issues to hurt your ability to sell your fix-and-flip property, which make roof repair one of the most important ways to spend your hard money loan from Socotra. El Nino is upon us, and if you aren’t repaired, turning your property over can be pushed back to while after the rains have dried.