Deadline nears for residents to replace wood roofs

With the 20-year period for replacing all-wood-shingle roofs with less fire-prone material nearing its Aug. 14, 2012, deadline, 128 homes have yet to make the transition.

The drumbeat to shore up the last of the holdouts is expected to get louder as the deadline looms, with fire officials espousing the benefits of replacing the roofs.

“Wood shingles are a pile of kindling on your roof,” said former Burbank Fire spokesman Ron Bell. “It was a great material back in the day, but it’s past its time.”

But with households still struggling under the weight of the protracted recession, some on the City Council may opt to extend the deadline further for a project that could run well past $10,000.


Councilman David Gordon said in an email that the city should consider modifying, extending or suspending the reroofing period.

“I intend to call for an additional agenda item to come forward without delay to allay the threat of unbearable additional expense currently hanging over many law-abiding Burbank homeowners,” Gordon said. “[They] may not have the means to afford replacing their otherwise perfectly functional and historically safe roofs still in good repair.”

Mario R. Tudela, owner of Modern Roofing on Victory Boulevard, said the cost to replace a wood roof for a standard, two-bedroom home can range from $8,500 to $11,000, depending on the number of roof layers, the pitch of the house and access to the roof.

Gordon said he was told the price could be as high as $40,000 for more unique roof shapes.


Low-interest loans from area banks are listed on the city’s website, and a loan through the Redevelopment Agency is also an option.

“It’s dangerous to you, your neighbors, your family and your guests,” Bell said.

California law requires that all wood roofs sold in the state be treated with fire retardant and pass a natural weathering test.

The city of Los Angeles bans wood roofs on new homes, and has also pushed the replacement of existing ones, despite advances in flame retardants.

In 1992, when Burbank first approved the measure, the city Building Department estimated about 19% of the buildings — or about 8,000 of 42,000 — had wood-shingle roofs.

Homes in the fire hazard severity zone had to replace their wood roofs by 2005.

Last year, the city’s Building Department issued 52 permits to replace wood roofs.