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Keeping the Roof Over Your Head


One of the ways you can tell spring has arrived, besides the change in outdoor temperature and trees beginning to bud, is by the many roofing company trucks parked along curbs and driveways. This is the window of opportunity before April showers.

For some reason, it seems as though many people in my neighborhood have had problems on their roofs recently. Maybe it has to do with most of the homes being built around the same time. Some of these homes have flat roofs, or are comprised of slate or cedar. But, most are asphalt shingle roofs. Here is what you should know before starting a major asphalt roof repair or replacement.

Know Your Stuff

Although the aesthetics and appeal of a roof are important to most people, and are a substantial consideration, the warranty and weight are factors we need to be aware of as well. Visit your local home improvement store and ask someone about the specifications on a particular brand.

The price of roofing material varies substantially. This is due to the length, quality, appeal, and protection these materials can provide to your home. Some shingles are warranted for 25 years, and there are shingles with 50 or more years of life. Naturally, the price for these roofs increases along with the warranty and durability of the product.

An important consideration when purchasing an asphalt shingle roof is impact resistance. Falling branches and ice can do a bit of damage to a roof. Asphalt shingles are rated for their impact resistance. There are numerical ratings for shingle roofs that classify them from 1, as the lowest resistance, to 4, being the highest resistance.

Resistance to Fire and Weather

Wherever there is a possibility of fire from brush or other dwellings, the fire rating of the shingle is important. These are rated in different classes. For example, a Class A is most effective against severe fire exposure, while a Class B is effective in a moderate fire exposure environment. If the roofing material was not rated, it may not meet with any of the tests imposed on it. Unrated materials might not be the best choice for your home and your safety.

Wind can put quite a bit of pressure on a roof. The heavier the shingle, the harder it will be for wind to raise it up and tear it off. Sometimes, blowing wind can raise the shingle, and a driving windy rain forces water under the shingle and into your home—or worse, blows the shingle right off.

Check the Warranty

Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, and make it a point to discuss this with the contractor. You want to be sure the installation is performed in accordance with the warranty requirements so it can be honored should the need arise.

Save one of the wrappers that the shingles come bundled in, and write on it the color you had installed. This is helpful if you need to have a few shingles repaired later on, or if you need to go over the warranty information that is usually written on it.

A manufacturer’s warranty and the contractor’s labor warranty are two different warranties. The manufacturer’s warranty will only cover defective material, while the contractor’s warranty should cover installation of the material. Remember, if the contractor does not install the product in accordance with the manufacturer’s warranty, it can void it.

Hiring the Right Contractor for the Job

Many people wait for the threat of snow to subside before scraping and tearing off their roof and starting a roof repair on their home. I often wonder how many homeowners have done their due diligence in compiling sufficient information prior to speaking with and contracting a roofer. This is probably the most important part of the whole process.

Working on a roof can be very dangerous work. Make sure to never hire a contractor that is not licensed with the Department of Consumer Affairs, and without the proper liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Some states do not require licensing, but if your state does, it is against the law for contractors that are not licensed with that state, to work on your home.

Make sure to also check with the Better Business Bureau in your area. Also, see if a friend or neighbor has recently had any roof work done on their home. A recommendation from someone you know is a very good beginning.

Make sure to get certificates of insurance from the contractor. Faxes are not good enough. You need their insurance company to send you a hard copy in the mail. If you are not sure what to look for, call your homeowner’s insurance representative and have them look at it. Do not allow anyone to begin working on your home without it. You can pay a hefty price, should someone get hurt, if you do.

Here is what to look for in the contractor’s estimate for services:

  • A clear scope of the work to be performed
  • The type, quality, brand, and quantity of material to be used
  • A clear labor and manufacturer’s warranty
  • The contractor’s address, telephone number, and license number
  • Payment schedule
  • Start and completion dates

Once you compile enough information, speaking with a roofing contractor will be a snap.

A Final Thought

The failure to find and correct roof problems in the earliest stages is probably the greatest cause of premature roof troubles. If you are making a repair or having a new roof installed, be sure to do your homework and hire a licensed contractor for the job.