A new roof is a big investment that usually costs thousands of dollars. The materials you use will represent a small portion of your investment. Most of it swill go toward the skilled labor involved. That makes choosing an experienced roof installation professional the best way to protect your investment and ensure a proper job.
Simple, isn’t it? Unfortunately, roofing is an business that requires little more than a pickup, a ladder and some basic tools to get started, so you have to be careful and diligent in choosing the right one for your project.
If you can get a recommendation from a neighbor, friend or someone you know, its probably the best way to go. Gather the names of at least two prospects. Make sure each one’s been in business at least five years or more — roofing companies who do poor work usually won’t last that long.
Check the availability of your roofer. There’s no reason to waste time if they’re booked up for months. Make sure to get names and addresses of references, and forget about any contractor that balks at providing them.
Next, do a drive-by inspection of a few of their recent jobs. Visually make sure that the spaces between individual shingle tabs, known as water gaps, line up laser-straight as they alternate shingle rows. Make sure the shingles are trimmed in a clean line along the valleys where they overlap the flashing. On the roof ends, shingles should also be neatly trimmed so they align with the edge of the roof. Ragged lines mean poor work. Also look for neat, tar-free flashing at the roof valleys and at the eaves.
If the roofs look like they stand up to scrutiny, call their references and ask them these questions:
- Would you use this roofing company again?
- Did the roof leak after being repaired or replaced? If it did, did the roofer respond right away, were the courteous and did they charge for any additional work they had to do to fix the problem?
- Did the project come in on budget? If it didn’t, how much was it off by? Were the additional charges justified and obviously needed?
- Did the roofer damage any landscaping, and did they leave nails or debris on the property? Flat tires are a big complaint during and after roofing projects. Good roofers make sure to pick up any nails with large rolling magnets during the job.
- Was there a designated foreman to address any concerns during both the tear-off and the installation of the new roof? (These separate jobs are sometimes completed by different crews.) You want a person there for any questions or concerns you have throughout the project.
Roof Installation Companies
When a roofing contractor comes by to check over your job and work up a price quote, note their appearance. If he isn’t clean enough to sit at your dining table, do you really want him working on your property? Make sure to detail the entire range of your expectations. Know who will be doing the work and who the foreman is. Always get everything in writing.
If you’re impressed, it’s time to verify that they carry workers’ compensation coverage and at least $1 million of liability insurance. Get the roofer’s insurance agent’s name and ask for their proof-of-insurance certificates. Once you’ve seen these documents, then its time to talk about an estimate, which should be done for free.
Make sure you get a warranty that covers leaks, flashing failure and any other labor-related problems. A one-year warranty is the minimum you should accept, though two or three years is what you should ask for. These same stipulations need to go into the contract, which should also include what type of quality materials will be used. Request the highest-rated, longest-lasting shingles or tiles you can afford to pay for.
Manufacturers usually warrant their products for 20 to 30 years. Some warranties can be voided if shingles are put on over existing shingles, so tearing off the existing layer might be a requirement, at an additional expense. Asphalt shingle roofs last 13 to 15 years on average, so a 20-year warranty should be fine. Tiles should last 30 to 40 years. Just make sure to get the proper paperwork and proof of purchase needed, in case you have to pursue any issues in the future.
New Roof Installation
Several other quality checks will help you make sure you have a leakproof roof for years:
- Replacing valley and eave flashing is least expensive and easiest to do when re-roofing, so get them done now. Also, have pipe boots or roof jacks replaced to direct away moisture where pipes or gas vents stick out. Leave chimney flashing alone if it’s in good shape. If not , have the roofer call in a masonry expert to replace them.
- Now is also the right time to make sure you have proper ventilation in the attic. Have it inspected by the roofer or an HVAC contractor. Bad airflow can heat an attic to over 130°F in the summer. In winter, moist interior air can cause condensation on the underside of the sheathing, causing it to rot. You might want to have ridge and soffit vents installed to circulate cool air into the attic, taking care of both problems at once.
- If you think the plywood decking beneath the shingles or tiles is rotted, put an small allowance in the contract for getting it replaced. Make sure its stated that you must approve any charges above a certain amount, and that you get money back if the decking is in good condition and needs no repair or replacement.
- Ask how the roofing company will protect your landscaping. Draw clear lines of responsibility for any landscaping thats damaged.
- Find out how the debris will be disposed of and how the loose nails will be picked up. Be sure dumpsters or trucks used for garbage pickup don’t roll onto your lawn or over an underground sprinkler system. There should be thick plywood under any dumpster or truck wheels to protect your lawn and your driveway. Something you could do is to pay a little extra to have the old shingles carried or carted by hand to the curb.
- Finally, trust your instincts. If a roofer rubs you the wrong way, even at the contract stage, don’t be afraid to back out before signing and begin your search again for someone else. Unless you have water pouring into your property from a badly damaged roof, it pays to take your time on making the right decision with this major investment.
For a free estimate on any roofing issues you may have, don’t hesitate to call the proven professionals at Mikku and Sons Roofing at (623) 465-1068.