Shelter is a Basic Need: Why Protecting Your Roof is an Essential Activity

Shelter has long been identified as a basic need for survival. Scientists believe that the earliest hominids may have used caves as shelters. These early humans realized that constant exposure to the elements meant they’d perish. 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs has shelter as part of Level One needs, along with food, water (drink), sleep, and oxygen. 

Shelter is essential. Maintaining it, therefore, is also essential, and why it has been recognized as such by Washington State.


Limits on what is allowed

While shelter is a basic need, there are still limits as to what is essential. When it comes to residential construction, building or completing the build of your new home is not considered essential. Washington State clearly identifies work…


“for residential construction related to emergency repairs and projects that ensure structural integrity”


as essential.

That means any work necessary to protect or maintain your home, is approved during this pandemic. 


Repairs, inspection, and maintenance

Repairs are clearly allowed.

A leak in your roof cannot wait. Water getting inside has an immediate impact. However, those repairs are also necessary to protect and ensure structural integrity. 

While possible to delay repairs, that can lead to future problems. The visible dripping likely isn’t the only water inside your home. Much of it is soaking into beams, insulation, and drywall. The longer the problem is left to wait for repair, the more damage being caused and the more expensive the repairs later – especially if that water damage leads to mold growth.

Inspections may not seem essential…

…yet they are instrumental in finding concerns before they require emergency repairs. Catching issues early helps maintain your roof’s structural integrity. Inspections are the first step to increasing the longevity of your roof.

The second is routine maintenance.

It may seem wise to postpone cleaning your gutters or roof, consider that clogged gutters can lead to drainage problems resulting in water getting drawn underneath shingles or behind the gutters. This can lead to the roof decking becoming soft and fascia board rotting. 

Damaged decking, even if the shingles have years of life left in them, can lead to early roof replacement. Water-damaged fascia boards will get soft allowing gutters, especially when heavy with debris or water weight, to pull free. The end result is additional, and possibly emergency repairs. 

Failure to remove algae and other growth from roof surfaces creates a number of issues we addressed in our article on preventing moss damage:

  • Moss can soak up moisture. That moisture can work its way back up and under shingles.
  • Plant growth on your roof damages the protective UV layer on asphalt shingles.
  • Growth accumulation can impact utility usage. Moss and algae will act as an insulation layer increasing interior attic temperatures and the need for cooling. Add in poor ventilation and the roof deck can warp.


How long your roof will last..

and be there to protect you, the integrity of your shelter, depends on how well it is maintained


When it comes to your roof, unless you are doing a re-roof for aesthetics, all work is essential to protect your shelter. 


Given that all work is done outside and well beyond the required 6-foot social distancing requirement, there is no risk to the homeowner. It may seem prudent to wait on some items out of financial concern, yet letting those items lapse will lead to a greater financial cost later. 

The best advice – take care of your family first – and that includes food, drink, proper amounts of sleep, and shelter. The bonus, knowing your roof is clean and maintained will help you sleep better too. 


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