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The Roofer Mike Stories

Hiring local Miami roofers that are experienced, licensed & insured is stressed in these stories after decades of roofing South Florida homes.

While marveling at a roof which had been previously “repaired”  I mumbled to no one in particular, “Miami roofers, just when you think you’ve seen it all …”

Roof repair of the chimney
After 3 hours with a 3 lb sledge and a flat bar, this chimney cleaned up well.

Before me stood a chimney which had been mummified  with 90lb roll roofing and hot asphalt long ago.  A sick amount of roof coating had been applied around the base but the tile surrounding the chimney was otherwise undisturbed. This was remarkable given one must first remove tiles in the leak area to see what in the world is going on.  My mind sometimes drifts back to other “roof goof” encounters when confronted with such surprises. Here are some of the most memorable.

The “Perfect” Roof

Most Miami residents are familiar with the sight of a roof that’s been torn off in preparation for shingles, tile, metal . . . thousands of round metal “tin caps” are nailed to black felt paper in a pattern prescribed by Code. This is done “by eye”. There is no measuring involved.  The tin-caps appeared to be perfectly spaced as my boss and I approached one such home . . . they were perfect.  Someone had snapped chalk lines on the entire roof to lay out the caps. The combination of all those chalk lines and perfectly placed caps was . . . well – beautiful!
A grotesque waste of human resources, yes,  but beautiful!

Tin Cap pattern on a roof in Miami
Typical tin-cap pattern per Code – without chalk lines!

We went up to see the one bundle of shingles that had been installed. They were as much a mess as the tin caps were perfect. My boss burst out laughing, no longer able to contain himself. The owner was not amused and told us the roofers were from California. He asked them to please go back to California after watching them lay shingles for five minutes.

Roofing is regional. Methods and systems differ from state to state. It’s important to hire local roofing contractors given the Florida Building Code for High Velocity Hurricane Zones is one of the most stringent in the world.

“Please Tell Me You Haven’t Paid Them”

From the ground the new cedar shakes on this home in Coconut Grove looked pretty good. That all changed once on the roof. We were called because there were leaks in the three small flat roofs incorporated into this big, steep, detailed system. This was of great concern because WE had re-roofed all three flats before the shakes were installed.   WE would have installed the shakes had our bid not been too high, according to the General Contractor. He said they would do the shakes “in house”.

Typical cedar shakes roof
Typical cedar shakes roof

A sixty-second inspection revealed that the flat roofs were leaking because the installers started the first course too low.  They drove nails through the bottom of the shakes and into the flat – not good. Around that time the homeowner beckoned us to come down and have a word . . . great.

She asked us in and pointed up. There was the most beautiful open-beam, stained and urethaned, Dade County Pine tongue and groove cathedral ceiling I’d ever seen. Except for the hundreds of nails protruding through it, that is. “Have you paid them?” my boss asked. “No”, she said. “DON’T!” we said. Fixing the GC’s mistakes on the flat roofs without comment to the owner would’ve been only right but there was no cover for this. “Call your lawyer. This whole ceiling is ruined”, fumed my boss. Then she motioned toward a door and said, “The master bedroom is vaulted, too. . .”

Competent Miami roofers check each home for exposed ceilings during the estimate and, when present, take note and make the necessary adjustments. So, how do you find competent Miami roofers? That’s another article.

Just Follow the Bull

The nice lady said, “Please come in, the leak is up here” and began ascending the stairs of her 2-story townhouse. Directions were hardly necessary as there was a trail of roof cement across the plush white carpet of the living room. It continued up the plush white carpet on the stairs and down the plush white carpet hallway which led to the master bedroom. This guy had big feet. . . . In the center of the bedroom’s plush white carpet was a huge circular pattern of “bull”, slang for roof cement.  Literally half the plaster ceiling was missing above the Circle of Bull. The nice lady explained that the man now known only as “He” had torn out the ceiling to access the “repair area”. The repair area was the underside of the roof’s wood decking which was now slathered with bull.

Roof humor
What’s pattern did you put on my carpet, “Roofer Chic”?

From the “circle of bull” extended another trail to french doors which opened onto a balcony where “He” put his ladder in order to execute the second phase of his two-pronged approach. This consisted of a sheet of plywood laid across the concrete tile roof with bull packed around the edges to create a seal, of sorts.

Enter Roofer Mike

The methods “He” employed were ridiculous on so many levels that to enumerate them and delve into the details of proper tile roof repair would risk losing the reader. We replaced the nice lady’s roof, which turned out to be beyond repair, and did it without ever setting foot on her plush white carpet.

These stories are not a scare tactic but a reminder that as in any profession, some Miami roofers are really just unscrupulous and/or incompetent individuals out there working on roofs. Homeowners can protect themselves in many ways and a good start would be to read another “Roofer Mike” article: Your South Florida Roof.

By “Roofer Mike” Slattery

Michael Slattery - aka Roofer Mike


Roofer Mike Inc delivers consistent quality and value