Guide to Re-Roofing Your Home | Print |

Guide to Re-Roofing your Home

Maybe you’ve seen a newly installed roof on a neighbor’s home that you like, or your current roof is causing you problems that need immediate attention. Or, you just want to improve the curbside value of your home by giving it a facelift. Whatever your reason to install a new roof, it’s wise to make sure you aren’t going to make any expensive mistakes.

Understanding the roofing process can be difficult to understand, and hopefully we can help make it a little easier, whether you’re completely new to the process or have some idea but want to understand the latest reroofing techniques, roofing products and installation procedures.

This article answers some of the more common questions relating to reroofing your home and covers the following three main areas: Getting Started, Product Selection and Reroofing Procedures.

There are some basic mistakes many homeowners make, such as choosing a roofing contractor without interviewing them in person, choosing roofing products and not comparing prices, misunderstanding what the basics of reroofing entails, and picking an estimate solely on the lowest price.

Getting Started on Reroofing Your Home

These are a few questions homeowners might want to ask prior to getting started on any reroofing project ranging from finding a roofing contractor to starting reroofing work.

How do I find a Professional Roofing Contractor?

A good old-fashioned referral – ask around to see if somebody you know has recently had their roof replaced and how happy they were with the contractor. You can also go to a local lumber yard or building distributor to see who they recommend as a professional roofing contractor. Take a look at the yellow pages and also search online to find a handful of possible contractors. Then ask the contractors themselves for up to ten references including names of homeowners and their locations.

Also consider the following points when evaluating a prospective roofing company:

  • Repeat local business.
  • How long the business has been established?
  • Willingness and ability to handle complaints quickly and fairly.
  • Professionalism of estimate and presentation given. Base judgments on the quality and number of jobsite photos (including names, phone numbers and finish dates), insurance, number of references offered, proposal provided, etc. Do not base professionalism on just a business card.
  • Membership in professional associations.
  • Knowledge of roofing procedures.
  • Do not consider any bids from contractors you have not met or interviewed.

For a more detailed breakdown on finding a reroofing contractor read Choosing a Professional Roofer.

How do I Evaluate a Roofing Estimate & How Many Should I get?

Your first estimate may very well seem like the best, but it doesn’t hurt to get at least a couple more to make sure it’s the best. When evaluating the roofing job’s cost you should look at:

    The contractor: Base your evaluation on the likelihood that during the next two to five years (the time most roof system imperfections occur) the contractor can be located (good reason to go with a nearby contractor), will honor their warranty and stand by their service guarantee.
    The quality and completeness of recommended roof system: Ensure the roof system includes waterproofing, adequate ventilation and shingle underlayment and is appropriate to your locality and style of home.
    The extensiveness of contractor’s insurance coverage: Make sure the contractor is liable for any damages or worker injuries.IMPORTANT: Don’t automatically go with the cheapest proposal. A low price often means there are shortcomings elsewhere.
    How long after choosing a roofing contractor before work begins? So long as the weather allows a roofing job should start anywhere from two to six weeks after the contract is signed. It’s a trade highly dependent on good weather, but a good roofing contractor should let you know of their current work backlog and be honest about start times and any schedule changes.
    How long should a reroofing job take? How long a job takes depends on both the size and complexity of the roof. A day or two is all a small roof job should take while a larger more complicated project can take over a week. The only thing that should extend a job past its usual duration is adverse weather. However, should an unusual problem come about, a contract negotiation could be in order. A professional contract should have any unforeseen problems such as hidden deck rot into consideration. Special “not to exceed price” and “time and material” clauses can be written to anticipate these conditions.
    Does extreme weather affect reroofing jobs? Extreme weather is the main reason for interruption or postponement of a roofing job. While workers’ safety is paramount when it is windy or icy, cold weather can also affect sealant adherence while extremes in temperature can affect the shingles during installation. This is only an important factor in postponing a job should the manufacturer’s warranty prohibit installation under certain weather conditions.
    On agreeing a contract, should I pay a deposit? Depending on the contractor you may have to pay a deposit. You should never pay the entire amount up front, nor should it amount to more than 75% of the agreed price. Make sure all materials, gutters, ventilation, cleanup and completion date are covered in the price prior to signing any contract.

Selecting Roofing Products

Always weigh up all your options when selecting your roofing shingles. Compare prices in terms of the functions, features and benefits you require – just like you would with any major purchase such as a car. Are you looking primarily at the functions of the shingle or are looks also an important consideration? You may want a Ferrari, but you may need an SUV while only having the budget for a small sedan. A homeowner requiring simple functionality may be happy with a standard three-tab roofing shingle, but if aesthetics are important then shopping around for the right shingle at the right price is imperative. Get product literature from your local distributor and do some online research to find the best designer shingle options for your home. The following are the five most important questions you can ask when choosing a roofing shingle:

    What’s the difference between an architectural shingle, designer shingle, and a standard shingle? For the past 100 years, the only real difference between the standard three-tab or strip shingle commonplace on most single family homes has been color. These types of shingles generally come with between 20 and 30 year warranties. Step forward to today and the architectural shingle dominates the marketplace with warranties upwards of 40 years and including a lifetime in some cases. Architectural shingles come in many forms, textures and designs and can really change the look and feel of your home. Amherst Roofing, Inc. will be only too happy to show you a good, better, and best selection of shingle products.
    Which is the best type of roofing warranty I should go for? With warranties starting from 20 years and finishing at up to a lifetime, a shingle’s warranty is a strong indication of how it will perform as well as its value. However, the most important part of the warranty is how and what it covers for the first handful of years after installation. It’s best to go with a warranty that covers material and labor on any grade of roofing shingle as that is when most defects, if any, are likely to occur.
    What is a shingle’s UL fire resistance? The Underwriters Laboratories Inc. ® (UL) ratings signify that the shingles were manufactured to pass a certain set of standards to qualify as fire resistant. Organic shingles carry a UL Class C fire resistance rating. Fiber glass shingles carry a UL Class A fire resistance rating. Either is appropriate for residential applications.

Reroofing Procedures

Of course you should hire a roofing professional to reroof your home, but it doesn’t hurt for you to understand certain aspects of the roofing process. Obviously, no two jobs are alike, and there could be conditions specific to your roof that limits your product choices and the costs involved. Therefore, you should know what they may be if your roofer brings them up in conversation.

    Do I need permit to replace my home's roof? Depending on the location, permits may be required before the start of new roofing or some reroofing jobs. It’s important to have this clearly labeled in any contract. A good roofing contractor should know this, but for extra peace of mind, you can check with your local building codes officer.
    Should existing shingles always be torn off before reroofing and who should dispose the old shingles? When installing a roof you have two options: a tear off or a lay over. A tear off literally means that the old roof is torn off before replacing it, and a lay over means new shingles are laid over a current roof. While a lay over is cheaper, it’s not always the most cost effective choice. If the roof deck is defective, or there are condensation problems then a tear off will reveal these problems fully and allow for proper repair or the installation of a correct ventilation system. A tear off also allows a waterproof shingle underlayment to be installed that will help protect against leaks due to adverse weather conditions such as ice build-up and driving rain. A totally clean deck from clearing away the old roof can lead to a better roof system finish overall.

    While this costs more, each advantage means there is less chance of the roofing manufacturer’s warranty not being adhered to. A tear off can also be a messy business, so it’s a good idea to get it stated clearly in your contract that your roofer is responsible for the clean-up and disposal of old shingles and debris. If the plan is to reroof over old shingles, check your local building codes to see if there’s a limit on how many roof layers can be installed on a home in your neighborhood. A good, local roofing contractor should be aware of the specific code requirements.
    Why should a roof breathe and how do you ventilate it correctly? Allowing a roof to breathe refers to the roof’s ventilation system underneath the roof deck. Your average shingle warranty requires as much as one square foot of net free ventilation area for each 150 square feet of floor space to be vented or one square foot per 300 square feet when both ridge and soffit ventilators are used. Good roof ventilation systems help:
  • Reduce heat in attic
  • Reduce moisture and condensation
  • Stop weather infiltration from driving rain and blizzards as well as prevent ice build-up
    Roofing felt underlay will:
  • Protect roof deck from moisture prior to shingle application
  • Add protection should water get under roofing shingles

Ask your roofing contractor if UL standards building codes in your area require a shingle underlayment. For residents in particularly snowy regions, there are special waterproof roof underlays that protect against leaks due to water back-up from ice dams. This special shingle underlayment is usually placed at the eaves or lower edges of the roof in conjunction with proper insulation and suitable ventilation. You can ask us at Amherst Roofing, Inc about these specialized underlayments.

Hopefully, you should now be more informed in the process of reroofing your home. If you’d like to choose us as a potential roofing contractor, please don’t hesitate in getting in touch with us at Amherst Roofing, Inc today and we’ll be happy to give you our considered professional opinion. Amhest Roofing serves all of S.W Florida, call today for a free estimate.

Finding a Good Roofer - Part One | Print |


This means finding a roofing contractor who knows good roofing practices, roof flashing details, how to handle problem spots on building roofs, and alternative roof covering products: shingle types, grades, colors, low slope roofing, flat roofing materials, etc. A competent roofer will provide you with sound advice on products, reasonable explanation of procedures, and, most important-solid results - no leaks, and a durable roof. It's difficult to determine the capabilities and reliability of a contractor.

Readers should also see How to Get the Best Roofing Job for a simple basic outline of the key ingredients to a good roofing job and a long lasting roof. Also see ROOFING INSPECTION & REPAIR. Our photo (page top) shows lost shingles from an asphalt shingle roof - possibly due to improper nailing.

Any Home Improvement is a complex combination of elements, the success of which depends on the quality of materials, installation and over-all construction.

There are many ways to start your search for the contractor who meets your individual needs. Referrals are obviously the best source for names of credible companies. Ask friends and family members who they have used in the past.

Contact your local Chamber of Commerce about contractors who are active in the community. The Better Business Bureau, state and local licensing authorities, local trade associations and your local yellow page directory are also excellent sources of information. As well as local suppliers of building products.

STEP 2: CHOOSING A ROOFER - Meeting and evaluating Potential Roofing Contractors

After you have compiled a list of possible contractors, take time to evaluate each one carefully. A professional contractor will be happy to provide any information you may require.

Many homeowners have been mystified by the seeming lack of interest and response from the contractors they call. To get a contractor to respond to your call, tell him you are shopping around, but are only interviewing three contractors, not ten.

A contractor is shopping for good jobs that will make a fair profit and bring future referrals . Many contractors have had experiences with unreasonable or dishonest homeowners. Therefore, they look for warning signs of customer problems during the initial job interview.

Set up a meeting to discuss your needs and their qualifications, and be sure to pay close attention to the attitude of the company representative. Good contractors take pride in their work and will be enthusiastic about the possibility of helping you with your problems. If you feel confident that the contractor is truly interested in your project, ask for the company's vital statistics-specific business information which will help you make your final decision.

  • Business Name and Address: A good, professional contractor will provide the telephone number. These are essential when checking on the company's previous business dealings.
  • Experience: The training and experience of a contractor, as well as the age of his or her company, will help you determine their ability to successfully complete your project.
  • Licensing/Bonding: Some states require special licensing for contractors.
  • Ask for business license numbers and information on the company which bonds the contractor. Then check with local authorities to see that the company compiles with regulations.
  • Insurance Coverage: A contractor should carry worker's compensation and general liability insurance. Request the name and address of the insurance carrier, along with a copy of the company's insurance certificate. Beware of low bids which are a result of incomplete insurance coverage and workman's compensation.
  • Professional References: Your contractor's past can help determine your future.
  • Ask for credit references, banking information and a list of completed projects including the names and telephone numbers of previous clients.
  • Company Philosophy: Discuss application techniques and workmanship guarantees.
  • Does the contractor stand behind his work ?
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