A New Roof

We know it's boring, but a sound roof means peace of mind.

By FamilyTime


If it’s time for a new roof, do your homework. This is one of those jobs most homeowner’s dread: It’s expensive, critical, and yet not especially satisfying.

A sound roof is essential, however, and it behooves the homeowner to pay close attention to it. It’s equally important to hire the right roofer for the job.

When it comes to roofers, experience and skill nearly always trump a low price.

Hire the Right Contractor
It’s advisable to get at least three estimates. The roofer should be able to prove he has been in business for a while (at least three years), has a valid license in your state, is bonded, and carries both liability and workers’ compensation insurance. He should be willing to put this, and everything else to do with the job, in writing.

A good roofer will provide you with a list of references. Ask for a reference for a customer who had a complaint to see how the roofer handled it — from the customer’s point of view. Call all the references.

If you can, hire a local roofer. Not only will he be able to schedule you more quickly, you can drive by houses with his roofs. If you can, visit a working site to see how it looks.

Before You Sign the Contract
Do your homework when it comes to the material you want on the roof. The roofer will recommend the kind of tiles he thinks would be best, but it’s always better if you know what he’s talking about.

You may end up with asphalt shingles, but only after you compare the prices of slate tiles, cedar shakes and some of the new “green” options, made of recycled rubber and other materials. You may decide it makes sense to spend a little more money for the shingles that will look best on the house and add to the resale value.

Ask if the roofer will use nails, not staples, to affix the shingles, and if he will install them according to the manufacturer’s stipulations. The manufacturer’s warranty only extends to correctly installed materials. Ask the roofer if the warranty will transfer to a new owner, should you sell the house.

If the roofer plans to subcontract part of the job, make sure he stands behind that work, too. In writing.

The roofer should be able to get the necessary permits from the town or city. If he asks you do so, consider another contractor.

Ask the contractor how long your roof will be exposed to the elements during the job. If you are replacing the entire roof — not simply adding a new layer of shingles — ask about the underlayment, eave protection, and ventilation. The roofer should ask to see the attic and explain ventilation to you.

Make sure the roofer guarantees the roof against leaks or other problems for a reasonable period of time. He should agree to repair the roof should there be glitches. He should stand behind his work.

Whomever you hire should agree to remove and responsibly dispose of all old tiles, tarpaper and any other debris from the property in a timely fashion.

During the Job
If at all possible, try to be home when the job is being done. Unless you have a very large house with a complicated roof, the job should only take a few days. If you can’t be there, drop by during your lunch hour or leave late for work.

Make sure the roofer agrees to notify you of any repairs that come up during installation. You don’t want to be hit with costs you have not approved.

Do not pay for the job until the work is done. Most likely, you made a deposit, but the final payment should never be made until you are completely satisfied and the roof has been inspected. Your roofer should know this from the start.

Once the roof is done, and done well, you can rest easy knowing that leaks and other problems are things of the past.