You never think about it, yet it’s the most important safety-net between you and the elements while you’re sleeping at night. Even though it’s certainly not glamorous like a new car, your roof is vital to your family’s well being. When deciding whether or not to replace your roof, why not arm yourself with a few simple facts that will help you make an informed decision about who to do business with?
A roof never lasts as long as the manufacturer says it will.
Whether it’s unbearable heat in the south, the scolding wind and rains in the Midwest, or the snow and ice build-up in the north, a manufacturer’s specs are in only valid in “normal weather conditions” (where on earth has there ever been “normal weather conditions”?). The good news is that you can extend the life of your roof by using proper ventilation (see section 2). You may also want to consider lead pipe boots. Most companies offer a rubber “boot” to keep water from leaking around your plumbing pipes, however, rubber is notorious for drying and cracking in a few short years. Use a lead pipe boot instead, which will always outlast your roof.
Most roofs are under-ventilated, which means higher energy bills.
If your attic is not pushing out air like it should, it’s costing you money every month. Keeping your attic cool with proper ventilation will lighten the load on your air conditioning unit and you should notice a difference in utility bills (Proper insulation will also help). Use either ridge-vent, power vents, or turbine vents (standard louver vents can be used as well, but you will have to install far more than the average roofer will want to install to ensure sufficient air-flow).
1 in 4 roofs have hail or wind damage that’s not visible from the ground.
Sometimes the damage is considerable and will warrant an insurance claim. Other times only a small repair is required. It’s always a good idea to get at least two professional opinions, and to make sure the contractor actually gets up on the roof to look for damage (many roofers, salesmen, and even insurance adjusters will show up and never even take a step on the roof!). If you have reason to believe you have damage (perhaps your neighbor had shingles blown off), it never hurts to call your insurance company and have them send an adjuster to take a look. Best case scenario there’s no damage. Mid-case scenario there is damage, but they end up paying for your damage. Worst case scenario, there’s damage but it’s not enough warrant a claim, so you end up paying for repairs out of pocket. This is why it’s important to have several opinions. If you’re roofer says there’s damage and the insurance adjuster says there isn’t, you can always ask your insurance company to send a second insurance adjuster to reevaluate the roof. I have seen many customers get an approval from the second adjuster.
All roofing companies are NOT created equal.
There are essentially three types of companies*:
The first is the national company with the 1-800 number who may or may not be trustworthy. There are some national companies that go in and out of business as fast as the sun sets. Sometimes they will even change their company name to run away from their bad name or a lawsuit. They often run their operations from a remote office and only hire local sub-contractors to fulfill their job orders. This greatly reduces the quality of installations and customer service. Be sure to check the Better Business Bureau and other online reviews to gain a good perspective on their reputation.
The second is the local company which can range from five employees to over one hundred. These guys are often well-known in a community and have probably done business with someone you know. If you decide to work with this type of company, be sure you don’t choose the lowest bidder. A person or company who under-bid or who isn’t making much of a profit will not be motivated to go the extra mile and is likely to cut corners to save on costs.
The third is “Billy-Bob” and his helper. These types sometimes take days or weeks to complete a job. They may not even be using up to date equipment such as nail guns! They may or may not do quality work, but be prepared to be patient with these types. If you roofer looks like he may be one of these guys, ask him if he guarantees the job will be finished in X number of days (weather permitting).
*(It’s impossible to fit every company into a stereotypical mold, however, most roofers fit into these categories)
A roof won’t fix itself.
Even though some people believe that ignoring a leak or roof damage will make the problem go away, remember that some people also believe that they can borrow their way out of debt (I don’t want to embarrass Congress so I won’t use their name). Yes, that was a joke.
Unlike some problems, an issue on your roof will usually get more expensive the longer you wait to repair it. Fixing problems early can save you hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars, so why not nip that problem in the bud immediately?
It seems as though a new roofing company is popping up every day across America, and with this many new trades-people, it’s very common to come across someone who has less than adequate knowledge of how to properly replace your roof. Be sure to talk with at least two or three people who have done business with the company you choose. They should have an established reputation and should be licensed and insured. Also, be sure to ask if all their employees are legal citizens and are not showing up to work with beer on their breath (After being in the industry for ten years, you’d be surprised how common this is!).
Replacing your roof should be an easy and painless experience. Asking a few of these simple questions can all but guarantee you a relaxing experience.