Are you considering a home improvement project? Why not start from the top? Just like the foundation of your home, the roof is vital to the integrity of your house structure. Being the crowned jewel of your house, the roof provides defense against natural hazards such as wind, scorching sun, rain, ice, hail, and snow. Also, it is the most vulnerable section of your home, which can lead to deterioration and decay damaging the roof and the content under it.
Therefore, when you notice problems from your roof such as leaking, missing shingles, shingles covered with moulds, sagged roof among others, it could be an indication that you need to work on your roof. You can either choose to do it yourself or find a professional roofer, which is always the best way to deliver your desired quality. But before you embark on looking for a roofing p, you should ask yourself if your roof needs a repair or replacement. How do you know which is the right call? Making the right decision is the key to reduce long-term costs related to roofing.
Roofing Replacement vs Repair
Even when it comes to our homes, prevention is the key. This means regular maintenance is essential for both your pocket and your home’s curb appeal. Postponing the needed repairs and replacement could save you for a short time, but it would cost more in the long-term.
- Since you have decided to work on your roof, how do you know if it needs replacement or repair?
- When should you replace your roof?
Age: Most roofing materials are designed to last between 20 to 25 years. If your roof is near this age, you should have it inspected for wear and tear. However, your roof could be only five years old with leakage. Such a problem is more related to the quality of the materials used and installation rather than the normal wear and tear.
Materials: What type of roofing material do you have? For instance, a slate roof can last up to 80 years while a metal roof can only last for a few decades. On the other hand, asphalt shingles, which are the most used roofing materials, are affordable with an aesthetic appeal. With proper maintenance, premium asphalt shingles are designed to last up to 50 years.
To enhance your residential curb appeal: If you want a new roof that complements the architectural style of your home, then you can consider roof replacement.
Water damage and moisture on the roof: Water has a persistence nature, and once it finds its way under your roof’s shingle, it can quickly find its way into the house. This can cause health problems and severe damages. Therefore, any signs of moisture, brown spots, mould or peeling paint on the ceiling, you should consider installing a new roof instead of a patch or repair.
Extensive leakage: If you experience extended or multiple leaks, you might consider replacing your roof instead of repairing the leaks.
Natural disaster: If tornado, hurricane, harsh winter or storm recently hit your town, your roof could be extensively damaged beyond repair.
When should you consider roof repair?
Dripping ceiling: If your timbers are not breaking or warping, and there is no mould in the house, you can do an easy repair yourself if you are a DIY enthusiast. If the leakage just began, everything should dry off on its own. If it’s been dripping for some time, have a professional roofing contractor check and repair it.
Missing or loose shingles: Every homeowner should have spare shingles to replace damaged or missing shingles.
Sagging gutters: While rain gutters age and get weighed down with debris, the posts used to support them can become weak, which can make the gutter to sag. Instead of drilling holes to drain the gutters, the best way is to re-secure the posts or replace the sagging gutter. Clean your gutters occasionally to avoid a similar problem in the future.
Damaged soffits: Soffited overhangs, eaves, and gables are prone to damage from broken shingles, poor flashing, and ice dams. If you find pests and insects gathering around the soffits, look for an exterminator.
Flashing: Flashing around skylights, vents and chimneys can withstand damage during a minor wind storm. However, if you live in areas that experience cold winters and hot summers, the flashing require regular inspection. This is as a result of the swings expanding and contraction, which can make the flashing loose.
General Costs Involved
Roofs play a significant role in protecting you from external elements, and it’s not a surprise to get an estimate exceeding $6000 for your replacement or repair. But before you jump into the cost estimate, you need to ask yourself some questions regarding your roof system to come up with an accurate estimate. The answers will guide and help you when negotiating with potential roofing contractors.
1. What is the type of your roof?
2. What roofing products and materials do you want?
3. What’s the size of your garage?
4. How many stories does your house have?
5. What is your roof’s pitch?
Since many factors affect total estimated cost, homeowners and contractors can make cost-effective and thoughtful choices. Understanding these factors can help you in minimising unnecessary costs of roofing. They include:
- Roof size
- Square footage
- Roof type
- Location (cost of materials and requirements by contractors depend on the region)
- Roof removal
- Roof pitch
- Time of year
- Number of shingle layers (removing old layers takes more time)
- Number of plumbing pipes, chimneys and skylights that should be addressed during the process
The materials you choose for your roof plays a huge role in the final cost estimate. They include wood shakes, metal, membrane, shingles, clay and concrete tile, slate, and much more. On average, membrane roofing is commonly used because it’s affordable while clay tile roofing method is the most expensive.
More roofing materials mean using more money. Contractors measure roofs in squares. Thus, they will quote you per each square of material. They will estimate the roof square footage divide by 100 to get the number of squares needed. The high the number of squares the higher the cost.
There are different kinds of roofs, all featuring their pros and cons. However, a steep roof is hard to install, unlike a flat roof. Therefore, a installing a pitched roof is expensive.
If your roof has over 2/12 pitch, then it is pitched but not flat. Rise over run determines the roof pitch. The distance between the outer edge of a stud wall and the centre of your house is the run. On the other hand, the distance between the top of a stud wall and the roof’s peak is the rise.
Roofing companies operate differently. Labor cost plays a major role in the final estimate. Therefore, it is recommended to get at least three or more estimates for your roofing project.
Your area of residence affects not only the total roof estimate but also your roof type and pitch. A pitched roof is recommended in regions that experience heavy rains and extreme winters since they have a good drainage system. On the other hand, flat roofs are not as efficient as the pitched ones because they have a poor drainage system. Without proper maintenance and regular inspection, the drains can clog resulting in leaks and damage. Also, just like snow, a poor drainage system can strain your roof. The greater the strain, the higher the chances of a future repair. Its always a good idea to find roofing companies near you because you can meet in person and talk things over several times before the project begins.
Removing roofing materials such as roof shingles, metal roofing among others can be a daunting task. Just like tiled floors, you remove each piece and section one at a time. When removing a pitched roof, you need a lot of precision and elbow grease for safety. However, if you are installing a new roof, you don’t need roof removal.
Time of Year
Despite all other factors, you can pay less for your roofing project. Just like many businesses, there are high and low seasons and roofing business is on the list. Roofers are usually busy in the late spring and into early summer. During the late fall and into the winter the business is slow. Since they are always looking for more work no matter the season, schedule your roofing project during winter.
However, don’t wait until the last minute when it’s too late to repair or replace your roof. Delay can cost you more than you expect.
Other costs of Roofing Materials
You will need additional tools and materials to carry out the project. Among them include a ladder, fasteners, hammer or drill, ventilation materials, sealant materials, leak barriers, flashing and more. The cost of these materials will vary although they only make up a fraction of the total budget of the main roofing tools and materials.
What are the main types of roofing shingles?
Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing materials. However, if you want to install a new roof, you can try a different type of roofing material. But before you select your roofing materials ask the following questions:
- How long will the type of roofing material serve?
- Is it eco-friendly?
- Can the roofing system complement my home’s architectural design?
- What is the cost of the roofing system?
- How much maintenance does it require?
- Can it hold up during natural disasters?
Apart from asphalt shingles, there are other common types of roofing materials include metal, wood, slate, concrete and clay tiles.
Asphalt shingles are commonly used by roofing contractors because they are durable and affordable. Also, they are available in various colours, are waterproof, easy to install, and suitable for different temperatures.
On the other hand, they have a short life-span, unlike most heavy tiles. Also, they are prone to fading and algae infestation, in which the latter cause black marks. On the brighter side, you can apply sodium hypochlorite solution and rinse off with fresh water to prevent discolouration. Also, you can purchase algae-resistant asphalt shingles, which have copper granules that prevent algae growth.
Wood or Cedar Roofing
If you want your home to have a natural look that blends perfectly into the surrounding, a wooden roof also known as cedar could be your best fit. Most wooden roofing materials are made from cedar because it resists decay, has a straight grain, stable dimension and cannot penetrate fluids. If installed correctly, it can last between 15-40 years, although they require maintenance to get rid of moss, fungi and mould. When it ages, it develops a weathered look.
Wood roofing is eco-friendly and excellent in regions that experience hail, storm or high wind. However, they are prone to fire if not treated with a fire retardant.
Wood is heavier than most roofing materials and is very expensive. But if you want that authentic and don’t mind the maintenance cost, it might be perfect for your house.
Metal roofs are becoming popular and are mostly made from aluminium, steel, zinc and copper alloys. They are lightweight, fire-resistant, low maintenance, environmental-friendly, and can hold up in heat, high winds and blizzards. Also, they come in different colours, and if it loses its shine, you can repaint it which is cheaper than replacing.
Slate and Ceramic Tile Roofing
If you are looking for a classy roofing material, the slate is your answer. Its advantages include: has a natural appearance, low maintenance cost, fire resistance, cannot rot quickly, comes in different styles and colours, and has a life expectancy of up to 100 years.
On the other hand, slate tiles are heavyweight, expensive, break off easily if walked on, have complicated gutter cleaning and roof maintenance.
Ceramic tiles are durable, resistant to fading, fireproof, high-quality and a lifespan of 50-70 years. On the other hand, slate tiles are fragile and are easily damaged during extreme weather conditions.
Flat roofs require high maintenance, and you must ensure it stays water-tight. You should clean the roof regularly to prevent leaves, branches and debris from clogging the drainage system. Also, flat roof in areas that have extreme weather conditions are can easily get damaged.
On the other hand, flat roofs are cheap to install than pitched roofs and are safe since it’s hard to fall off when on the roof. Also, they are easily accessible.
What is the Difference between soffits, fascia and badge boards
Badge boards, fascia and soffits are the integral parts when installing a roof. But what is the function of each of them?
It is the board used on a roof’s gable. It can make or break the visual appearance of your house since its primary purpose it to make that part of the house look better. They come in different colours and style that suit your home.
Which Bargeboard Should You Choose?
Badge boards come in different types including flat, bullnose and square. Also, there is a wide range of materials you can choose from. It is simple to maintain a badge board only if you don’t place the new over the old board especially the wooden type.
What Are Fascias?
Fascia is the long board that runs along the roofline. Its purpose is to cover fittings and ensure they are protected and waterproof. It also provides a pleasing appearance from the room deck to the soffit, enhancing your home’s curb appeal.
Choosing the Right Fascia
Most fascias are made from cypress because it is durable and unsusceptible to decay. Also, the grain texture of the cypress makes it less vulnerable to bending and splitting, unlike other materials. There are many types and materials of fascia board for you to choose from.
What are Soffits?
Soffits run below the fascia at the bottom of your roof. It is the board mostly seen from the street level. They cover the underside of the fascia as well as protect the roofline and wall from harsh weather conditions. Also, they enhance the aesthetic appearance of your home and provide ventilation to allow air flow into the roof area. Lack of ventilation can cause condensation in the roof, which increases timber decay.
Soffits Purchase and Repair
Nesting birds and excessive rain can degrade soffits, but you can use a water-resistant sealant to coat the edges to minimise the damage. Decayed soffits have an adverse effect on fascias, shingle moulds and rafters and you may need to repair. If you want to repair your soffits don’t do it yourself, instead look for an expert since there are factors to consider.
The hollow variety is the most popular type of soffit also. DIY enthusiasts prefer it because it is cost-effective and easy to install.
Once your roofing project is over, you need to maintain and care for your investment. Regardless of the type of roof you have installed, care and maintenance are the keys to durability. You can conduct maintenance seasonally or annually. A roof inspector should inspect the roof thoroughly removing leaves, twigs, branches, and other debris. A blower (electric or gas) or a roof cleaner, works perfectly. The inspector will look for missing or broken shingles, tiles or wood shakes and make the needed repair.
Also, the roofing expert will look at chimneys, roof-mounted solar panels, roof-mounted AC units, heat vents, plumbing vents, dormer vents, valleys and crickets since they are the main areas that cause leakage. Therefore, proper preventative maintenance will save you money and provide longevity.
General Roofing tips
- Do not paint shingles. Paint shortens the lifespan of your shingles since it can easily fade or crack.
- Power washing is highly condemned because it can damage your roof.
- Choose a reflective roof rather than a dark colour to maintain “a cool” home. In fact, it can cut your electricity demand during summer months.
Removing algae and moss: Although you can use diluted bleach or chlorine to hose down the roof, and to get rid of the surrounding vegetation; it has an unpleasant smell. The ideal way to deal with the problem is to install zinc strips on your roof. When rain flows on the zinc, it washes the algae and moss out of the shingles.
10 Tips on Choosing the Right Roofing Contractor
Finding a reliable and competent roofing contractor for your project is not a walk in the park. However, with the best tips at hand, you can never go wrong. Below is a compiled list of tips that can assist you during the process to get high-quality services worth your money from start to completion.
1. Get Recommendations
The first step is to get referrals from trustworthy friends, co-workers and family. List all the recommended companies and check their websites and testimonials. Also, you can visit a local lumberyard since they know roofers who use high-quality materials and give the best services.
2. Do Phone Interviews
Once you’ve gone through reviews, call each of your potential contractors to ask them questions such as the following:
- Can they handle your project’s size?
- Can they provide a list of clients they have worked for?
- Can they provide financial references from banks or suppliers?
- How many employees or subcontractors do they have?
- How many running projects will they have at the same time?
The answers you get will help you know the availability, reliability and the attention they can give your project.
3. Meet In person
After the phone interview, you can narrow down your list to four or five contractors for further discussion. The contractor should answer your questions to your satisfaction, and in a way that makes you comfortable. It is important for both of you to understand one another because he or she will be spending hours at your home for some time during the project. However, don’t allow personality to fool you.
4. Investigate the Facts
Now that your list has decreased, conduct research. Call previous clients to find out how the project was done, and ask if you may see the finished product. However, don’t depend on final results alone; visit a current project similar to yours to see how the contractor does his/her work. If the job site is safe and neat, and the workers are careful with the property around them, then you can consider him/her.
5. Communication is Key
Did the contractor return your calls? Did they provide the documents you asked for? If you answer “no” to the questions, you can forward your concerns to the representatives or walk away. In all businesses, communication is paramount. If they can’t communicate when trying to win your project, what happens once you commit the work to them?
6. Get Bids
At this stage, the remaining contractor(s) have responsible work ethics and clean track records. Now you don’t have to focus on their past work but on your project. A reliable contractor wants not only a set of your blueprint but also the amount you plan to spend and a sense of what you want out of a job. But how do you compare bids? Tell each one of them to break down the costs including materials, profit margins, labour, and other expenses.
7. Set a Payment Plan
A payment plan can reveal a contractor’s work ethics and financial status. A contractor who wants half of the bid up front might have financial issues or be worried that you may not pay the remaining amount after completion of the project. For large roofing projects, a payment plan usually begins with 10 percent when signing the contract. Then space the project evenly into three payments each at 25 percent. When the job is done, and you feel satisfied with the results, pay the remaining 15 percent.
8. Don’t Allow Price to Guide you
Contractors with low bids could be cutting corner or desperate for work. Apart from technical skills, comfort should play a huge role when making your final decision. The primary factor when choosing a roofer is how well you both communicate. It’s worth spending more while working with a contractor you feel comfortable with.
9. Put It in Writing
Draft a written contract with details of every phase of the project including:
- Certificates of worker’s compensation payments and liability insurance
- Start date and expected date of completion
- All products and materials to be used
- A limited warranty
- A change-order clause
- A lien waiver which prevents suppliers and contractors from putting a lien on your house in case the contractor fails to pay their invoices
- A dispute resolution clause
A clear contract does not indicate mistrust; it’s insuring a successful project. Also, keep in mind that while at the project, the cost of materials can increase or another problem can occur, which can increase the total estimated cost or the project take longer than estimated.
10. Choose Local Contractor
A company that operates locally is the best fit for your job because they have an established business and have gained a reputation in the area. You can choose a company you are not familiar with providing a five-year warranty, which can close, vanish or move. Even if they gave you have the piece of paper, the warranty is as good as the reputation and existence of the company.
Sometimes instead of doing a project yourself, it’s better to hire a professional. However, choosing the wrong contractor can result in subpar work, delays or legal problems. With the above tips, you can choose the best roofing contractor and maintain a good working relationship.
Questions to Ask Your Roofing Contractor
Choosing a roofing contractor is not a walk in the park. You might not know what makes a good and reliable contractor if you have never had one before. The following ten questions will help you in your pursuit contract.
1. What is your legitimate business name?
A contractor’s business name is significant during this digital era because it is easy for some people to represent themselves online falsely. A little investigation can largely help in your pursuit of the best roofing contractor. For instance, a business owner can market his business as “Roofing Company”, but the legal business name could be Roofing Company Inc.
Do not consider answers that are unclear or hesitant. This is the best way to guard you against scammers. If you are in doubt, ask the roofer for proof. They should have no trouble emailing you copies of insurance or licenses. Use the information given to search if they exist. If you do not find the company, the contractor might be a ‘fly by night’ who is there to provide low-quality services or steal the deposit.
2. Are you insured?
The contractor should have a workers’ compensation, liability insurance and a copy of the insurance certificate to ensure it is valid. Workers’ compensation ensures that you are protected in case an employee or a subcontractor hired by the contractor is injured. On the other hand, liability insurance is intended to protect you from any damage by the contractor that might come up during replacement or repair.
Inadequate insurance can result in litigation between you and the contractor if an employee gets an injury.
3. Do you offer a warranty?
Reliable roofing contractors should provide work guarantees between five and ten years. It involves free repair and labour on any damage that might occur due to poor installation. The warranty covers leakage or complete failure but not general maintenance, wear and tear or damage from insect infestations or harsh weather conditions such as hail and storms. Before you hire a contractor, ask what the warranty covers.
4. Do you have a list of references?
Ask the roofer for the number of projects they have recently completed that are similar to yours. Ask for the job sites that you can visit to see how well the roofing contractor is with your type of job. Follow up with the clients if they have no problem disclosing their personal information. Ask questions such as: How long did the project take? Was he/she satisfied? Did they incur unexpected costs? Did the employees arrive on time and clean up after the job was complete?
5. Do you use subcontractors/employees?
Will the contractor work with real employees or subcontractors. Employees are paid on an hourly basis while subcontractors are paid at a flat rate. Thus, you should be careful because subcontractor can cut corners to get the job done as fast resulting in bad quality services. Also, the subcontractors are not covered by the workers’ compensation. Therefore avoid contractors who do not have employed workers.
6. Who will manage the project?
While homeowners like you and me hope that a roofing project runs smoothly, it is not always the case. Imagine returning home in the evening only to find an open roof and the employees are ready to leave the job site? The first thing that you will ask is: who is the project manager? Most roofing companies have projects manager whose work is to ensure the project moves as planned and the workers are installing the roof to your standards. Workers should work under supervision. Therefore, before you hire a contractor to ensure they have a manager who will supervise the project until it is complete.
7. What is your roofing cost per square foot?
This question will help you uncover lazy, inexperienced or unethical contractors. You can ask the question over the phone, which will protect you from roofers who offer lower prices but pay little to their workers leading to low-quality services. Also, if the contractor does not make profits, then it’s you who will pay in the long run because it’s hard for such contractors to honour a warranty.
As explained above, numerous factors determine the total cost of your roofing project. Therefore choose a contractor who can consider several factors and explain each. Such a contractor shows how ethical and experienced they are. On the other hand, a roofer who only estimates the cost of a roof based on its size, pitch, and the number of layers it has, allows room for error.
8. Will you remove the old roof?
To save money and time, you might hire a contractor who only inspects your old roof with their eyes. If it looks well, they will just do some repairs, but unless the old shingles are pulled up, you cannot know if there are rotten wood or spots under the current shingles. If the bad spots are not replaced or repaired, you will have an expensive and lager problem in the long run. Don’t allow a roofing contractor to place a new roof before they have pulled up the old roof.
9. Do you give a written estimate?
Ensure that you sign or settle into a contract with a detailed estimate to avoid future problems. The estimate should include the total cost of installing a new roof, removing the current roof, and anything that might come up during the project.
10. What will happen if the weather is unfavourable for the job?
Imagine how bad it would be when the rain starts while the roof is uncovered? Ensure that the contractor has a plan for such scenarios. They should cover the job in plastic covers or tarpaulin to ensure the roof and everything beneath remains dry. What if the rains extend for several days? Will the contractor always come to check whether the covers are intact? Will they be available to secure the covering if it is blown away?