Looking for a roofing contractor to put a new roof on your home? Here’s what you need to know.
The first thing you can do to properly prepare for a new roof is to be sure it’s absolutely necessary.
Replacing your home’s entire roof is one of the largest repair investments you’ll ever make, and it can be quite an undertaking – taking upwards of 3 – 4 weeks to do the job right.
There are some cases where your roof can be easily and quickly fixed with a few patches and be just fine for another five years before needing a real overhaul.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to seek-out a roofing contractor by way of referral in order to obtain a professional opinion you can trust. This way you’ll know whether you need to actually replace your roof instead of just repairing it for the next few years.
Once You’ve Decided Reroofing is Necessary…
It may be costly but needing to put a new roof on your home isn’t a bad thing – by any means. It’s one of the most effective things you can do to keep your home in tip-top shape for years to come and can have a huge effect on both how comfortable the home is and how good it looks.
A fresh, new roof can also increase resale value a lot more than most other remodeling projects. . . In most case, you can expect to recoup at least half of what you need to shell out for a new roof.
Still, replacing a roof can be stressful and uncharted territory for many people. More than half the homeowners we provide with a re-roofing bid have never before gone through the process of having a new roof installed before.
Selecting the Right Contractor
Usually, the most difficult task a homeowner looking to replace their roof faces is selecting a contractor.
They need to find a contractor they can trust to complete the job correctly and at a fair price. Like we said above, nothing beats a referred roofing contractor – one that someone you know trusted with their roof, and got the job done right.
Being able to trust the contractor you select is key to getting a quality and lasting roof. It’s also great for peace-of-mind, being able to relax while knowing that your home is in good hands.
With so many nightmare stories out there featuring shady roofing contractors, you want to insure the company you hire operates ethically, safely, diligently, and in accordance with manufacturer standards in order to avoid voiding any warranties on the roofing materials they use.
5 Tips to Understand Before Seeking Re-Roofing Estimates
1. Understand the Cost – and Get It In Writing
First thing you need to know when you get an estimate: is it an estimate or an exact bid (which will include materials, labor cost and anything else)?
There’s not much worse than spending a few grand on what you thought was the final price, only to find that the actual final price is significantly more than that.
Does the estimate you receive include a breakdown of materials such as underlayment, flashings, etc? Does it include breakdown of labor costs?
The more detailed the estimate, the better. When conducting bids, we try to factor in some costs for unexpected labor/materials, too; it’s not an exact science, but experienced roofing contractors are capable of foreseeing certain things problems that might be run into once the process gets started.
For example, if shingles look to be damaged due to water, it’s likely that plywood underneath will need to be replaced – but exactly how much of it needs to be replaced won’t always be evident until the work begins.
Ask the contractor to be as thorough and clear in the estimate as possible and have them explain it to you step-by-step so you know what’re you’re getting into.
Surprises and unexpected obstacles do happen, of course – and sometimes there is nothing the contractor can do but charge you for some extra labor and materials. But make sure that this contingency is stipulated in the contract beforehand so you can plan and have some breathing room.
Just remember as with any other large purchase or investment you make, if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.
2. Know The Anatomy of A Roof
If you’re walking into the local Best Buy to purchase a new HDTV, you’re likely to have done some research to get yourself up-to-date and up-to-speed with the latest technology available, so you at least have some idea of whether you want an Ultra HD 4k TV, an OLED or an LCD, etc.
Purchasing a new roof is no different. Familiarize yourself with the basics of a roof and what goes into a roofing bid, and you’ll be able to better understand and compare bids accurately, getting yourself the best deal possible and potentially saving quite a bit of cash.
A couple basic things you might want to know about roofs are:
- Flashing – the metal (occasionally plastic) used to connect roofing materials, hold ridges together, and avoid leaks – is used on every roofing project.
- Underlayment is the black paper that is placed over the plywood sheeting to seal and protect the rooftop. It serves to waterproof the roof, absorb condensation and sweat, and allow moisture to escape.
- Roofers measure your roof in what are called squares. These don’t refer to square feet but rather 10’ by 10’ areas – or 100 square feet.
3. Select Quality Roofing Materials
If you opt to go with the cheapest underlayment, shingles and tiles, you can expect your new roof to greatly underperform when it comes to lifespan and longevity. No matter how professional the roofers and installation may be, it’s only as good as the weakest link – in this case, the materials used.
A professionally installed roof, with quality materials, can last up to 30 years. A cheap roof installed with cheap materials, on the other hand, can begin failing in as little as 10 years.
At Estrella, we always recommend and prefer working with quality materials, and always suggest our customers make the extra investment. However, we also like giving our customers choices, and always understand that budgets can be tight. Sometimes up-front cost is more important than long-term reliability for the roof, and they would rather spend money on repairs further down the line.
Knowing the difference between quality and generic roofing materials is vital; if a contractor is pushing for lesser quality materials just because they are cheaper, that’s a giant red flag. It’s also a common tactic used by contractors who want to win with the lowest bid possible – by cutting corners at the expense of your roof’s lifetime.
At the same time, if you have budget concerns, be sure your contractor is aware of them and works with you to honor them, and to find solutions that work. You don’t have to drop thousands more on top-of-the-line materials if you don’t want to, and middle-of-the-road options installed properly can be just as good in the long run. Some cheaper materials are actually just as high-quality or durable as more expensive ones, they may just be less attractive or have their own unique advantages that allow them to cost less.
If you do have the budget, however, then upgrading those old asphalt shingles for something more durable and aesthetically-pleasing while they’re up there, can be a fantastic decision for protection, durability and longevity – as well as looks.
Check out some of the most common types of roofing shingles and materials and see which will work with your home and aesthetic, while also fitting in your budget.
One question that is often overlooked when comparing shingle types and materials is wind resistance; if you live in a place with high winds – not uncommon here in some parts of Arizona – ask the contractor to help you pick shingles with a high wind resistance rating or warranty.
4. Get Rid of Those Old Shingles
Does the estimate the contractor presented include removing the current asphalt shingles before installing new ones?
Installing new shingles on top of existing ones is actually a common practice in the industry – but it’s NOT a good idea.
It’s tough to know if the plywood underneath the current shingles has sustained extensive water damage unless the old shingles are removed first.
And, new shingles installed right on top of old shingles simply do not seal as well as they would if nailed directly to the underlayment – so water can end up getting in anyway. Ice can also take its toll on a roof’s underlayment in very cold climates, and it’s important to keep as much moisture as effectively possibly out from under the shingles.
And if the current shingles are already in bad shape – cracking, breaking, coming loose – installing your nice new shingles over them doesn’t make sense, anyway. If they break off – they could take the new shingles with them.
5. Ask About Warranties – and Insurance
Before hiring ANY contractor, you want to make sure they are properly licensed and insured. You need to be absolutely covered in event of injury or disaster, and in case something goes wrong with the roof they install.
Be on the lookout for unscrupulous and illegitimate contractors who don’t have the proper licensing and credentials. They tend to pop up before and after storms or the rainy season and will often disappear just quickly – leaving you with a subpar, dangerous roof, or even no roof at all.
Also be sure to ask the contractor about whether they adhere to manufacturer’s standards and warranties. Top-tier roofing materials usually come with excellent 20 – 30-year warranties, and cheaper ones will usually still solid ones good for 10+ years. However, the terms of these warranties can be very particular and can easily be voided due to a shoddy and improper installation – leaving you high-and-dry when things go wrong.
Ask the contractor to sit down and go over all the manufacturers’ specs and warranties before the re-roofing process begins, and make they are carrying out the job to fit those best practices.