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City roofing guidelines ensure sturdy, long-lasting roofs

Updated April 6, 2020

During relatively dry winters, you may not notice any roof leaks. However, the Building & Safety Division recommends that you inspect your roof every one to two years to keep it in top shape.

First, crawl inside the attic on a sunny day and look for holes where the sun is shining through. Small rays of sunlight are normal with a shake roof; the shakes usually expand when it rains, filling any gaps. Minor holes can be filled with a few new shakes or strips of composition roofing.

After checking the attic, climb on top of the roof to look for missing or worn pieces. If most of your wood shakes are crumbling or badly split, chances are you need a new roof. Composition roofs may need to be replaced when most of the shingles have curled or look worn down, missing their covering of small pebbles.

While on the roof, make sure that the metal flashings around the eaves, chimney and drain pipes are tight against the surface. If they aren't, bend and nail them back in place.

In most cases, a few minor roof repairs are needed. But if your roof needs to be completely replaced, your first stop should be the Community Development Counter on City Hall's second floor. Here you can pick up the City's roofing guidelines and an application as your first step to obtaining City approval and a building permit. (Remember that you, not your contractor, must sign the roofing application. The contractor is required to bring the application you have signed to City Hall when he pulls a permit for the project. He must obtain the permit before any work begins.)

You can also download a copy of "What You Should Know Before You Hire a Contractor," a free booklet that offers hundreds of tips for choosing a reputable roofer, at

Your new roof can be made of any of the following materials: heavy-butted asphalt shingles (also known as "dimensional" fiberglass shingles), synthetic shake or synthetic tile, concrete tile, clay tile or metal-coated material which simulates the appearance of clay or concrete. (The installation of three-tab asphalt shingles is not permitted in Cerritos.) All new roofing material must have a minimum Class-C fire retardant rating and a minimum 30-year warranty. Chemically treated fire retardant wood-shake or shingle systems that will resist fire for the life of the roofing material is also permitted. The material must be rated as Class A by the International Conference of Building Officials.

For more information on reroofing your home, stop by the Community Development counter at City Hall or call (562) 916-1209.

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