Most Important Questions To Ask Your Roofing Contractor

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When it’s time to get a new roof put on your home, you will want to call several roofing contractors to obtain estimates. But what questions should you ask when they get there? How will you know the right contractor to hire for the job? Here are some tips and suggestions on the hiring the right roofing contractor and making sure they are well qualified to do the job.

Question: Are You Licensed?

Most states require all roofing contractors to be licensed in the state the work is being performed in. It is best to research what is required in your state. Be sure the contractor’s license is up to date. If anything goes wrong with the job, the roofing license if very important.

Question: Do You Have Workman’s Comp Insurance?

Insurance can be expensive and some roofers may try to cut this out to save money. Employers are required by law to carry workman’s comp insurance. What can happen if you hire someone that doesn’t have this insurance? You could end up paying thousands of dollars for their medical bills since the accident happened on your property.

Question: Do You Carry General Liability Insurance?

The roofer’s liability insurance will cover any damage to your house or property caused by the contractor while the job is in progress. For example, if a bundle of roofing shingles falls and comes flying through your window (it has happened) you could end up paying the bills for repairs.

Question: Will You Remove The Old Roof?

If you only have one layer of roofing shingles on your roof, you can decide if you want the single layer removed or if you want the new layer applied over the existing layer. If the existing layer is removed, the job will be more expensive. Just make sure you are comparing apples to apples and all roofers are quoting on the same work.

Question: Will You Install A Drip Edge When You Install The New Roof?

A drip edge is a critical component of the roofing system. The drip edge is generally made of aluminum and extends past the edge of the roof to guide the flow of rainwater directly into the gutter. Water damage can occur if the drip edge is missing or not installed properly.

Question: Will You Install An Ice And Water Barrier?

Roof leak barriers help prevent leaks due to water damming, wind-driven rain and damaging ice dams. Ice and water shield is applied at eave and rake edges and in valleys. These are the areas most prone to water leakage. It is also recommended around skylights, roof dormers, chineys, vent pipes and other flashing areas.

Question: Does The Roofing Company Have A Local Address?

Many contractors will only list a Post Office box on their business card. Make sure they can provide you with an actual street address and phone number. If it takes the crew an hour or more to get to your home from their location, you may not get the most prompt response time or the best service.

Question: Will The Company Provide References Or Referrals From Previous Jobs?

It is perfectly fine to ask for photos or addresses of previous jobs. Also request phone numbers of some previous customers so you can check on customer satisfaction.

Question: Does The Company Have A Workmanship Warranty?

A roofer who stands behind their work will provide a workmanship warranty that generally lasts one year. You mainly want to know if the roofer will stand behind their work. Problems with application will show up early and you want to make sure the roofer will return to fix any issues with workmanship that arise.

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Top Five Things To Know When Roofing Your Home

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Time For A New Roof Installation?

You moved into your house many years ago and everything was looking well-kept and in good shape. But time marches on and you are beginning to notice your roofing shingles are looking a little old and deteriorated. If your existing roof is more than 20 years old, it may be time to consider re-roofing your home.

Here are five things you should know before you begin calling contractors about the job.

1. Do you know if your existing roof is a single layer of shingles or a double layer?

If it is a single layer, you may be able to cut costs and add on one more layer over the top. If it is already a double layer, you will need to have a complete roof tear-off. With the complete tear-off, the roofing contractor will strip off the existing shingles right down to the plywood decking. Occasionally once the roof decking is uncovered, it may also be in need of repair or replacement, especially if the roof had leaked at some time in the past.

2. When you are choosing your new shingles, there are several different types

Most of them are asphalt-covered fiberglas shingles, but some are higher-priced such as slate shingles or real wood. Generally, the asphalt shingles are used on most homes.

There are also several types of asphalt shingles, including 3-tab straight shingles and “laminate” or “architectural” shingles that simulate the look of wood shingles. The basic 3-tab shingles are the lower price point and will most likely last from 20-25 years depending on the quality of the product purchased. The laminated shingles provide a multi-dimensional look and are thicker than 3-tab shingles, with warranties that go up to 30 years. There are many colors and styles to choose from and you can look online at several manufacturer’s websites to review the options.

3. When contractors arrive to estimate the roofing project . . .

they will measure the area of your roof to determine how many shingles need to be purchased and applied. Roofing shingles are measured in “squares”. One square of shingles is the quantity needed to cover 100 square feet of roof area. Once the contractor measures the square footage of roof space on the home, they will add on a certain amount for waste, overlap and cutting around corners, eaves, rakes, chimneys and other elements.

Roofing shingles are sold in bundles and the number of bundles per square will vary depending on the thickness of the shingle. For the typical three-tab strip shingle, three bundles will cover one square of roofing area. For thicker, laminate shingles it may take 4-5 bundles to cover a square.

The upgrade to a laminated shingle can be well worth the additional cost as it will not only add to the overall curb appeal of your home, but it will also last longer. They can be a great selling feature if you are considering a move in the future.

4. Make sure the application of a weather-shield layer around the edges of the roof, is included.

This is very important around edges, in valleys, eaves and rake areas as well as around chimneys where flashing is used. The weather shield layer will provide extra protection against interior water leakage by shielding the roof decking from moisture caused by ice damming in winter. Ice damming occurs when snow piles up on the roof edge. Under the heavily-piled snow ice will form and melt from the freeze/thaw cycle. This water will have a tendency to travel upwards on the roof, finding its way underneath both the shingles and underlayment and eventually through the decking and into the home.

The weather barrier layer should extend up at least three feet from the edges of the roof. In this picture you can see where the weather barrier is applied underneath the roof shingles.

5. How To Find The Right Contractor.

First, you can begin by asking friends, neighbors or co-workers if they have re-roofed their home and if they had a good experience with a reputable roofing contractor. You can also obtain a good contractor from a shingle manufacturer’s website. For example, Owens Corning manufacturers excellent quality roofing shingles and lists the names of contractors that are part of their OC Preferred Contractor listing from their website.

Your roofing contractor can also help you by providing references of other homes completed in your local area and by showing you examples of certain shingles that you may be considering. They can also recommend the best style and color options that would look the best on your home.

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5 Key Signs Your Roof Needs Replacement

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We attend a lot of home shows throughout the Chicagoland Area and homeowners are always asking “How Do I Know if I Need A New Roof?”. So here are 5 key ways to determine if your roof needs replacement.

  1. Inspect your roof by getting a pair of binoculars and looking closely at the shingles.  Asphalt shingles will begin to curl up around the edges when they worn.  If many shingles on your roof are showing this sign of heavy wear, it’s time to call an expert roofer to talk about a new roof.
  2. Inspect your shingles for loss of mineral granules. Severe loss of these granules can mean that your roofing shingles have deteriorated, are defective or have suffered from hail damage. But either way excessive granule loss can indicate that it’s time for a new roof.  The mineral granules protect the asphalt coating on the shingles from UV deterioration.  Once the shingles lose an excessive amount of granules, the asphalt coating will most certainly deteriorate.  Once the asphalt deteriorates, it is no longer waterproof and can no longer prevent water from entering through the shingle and seeping into the home.
  3. Look for bare patches on the shingles where both the granules and the asphalt coating have worn down.  If you see these “bald” patches over any part of your roof, it is definitely time for repairs or even a completely new roof.
  4. Inspect the shingles for tears, cracks, buckling or areas where the asphalt is showing through.  Any tears or cracks will allow more water to penetrate the shingles and because of changing temperatures the asphalt will most certainly deteriorate.  Buckling up of the shingles can allow water to enter under the shingle and penetrate the roof.  Any spots where the black asphalt is showing is also a sign that the shingles are in need of replacement.
  5. How old are the shingles?  The normal lifespan for the flat, “3-Tab” asphalt roofing shingles is 20 years.  For multi-dimensional, architectural shingles the lifespan can go up to 30 years or longer.  If your roof has not been replaced in over 20 years, its expected lifespan may be coming to an end and the time for a roof replacement could be close at hand.
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