Questions to Ask When Purchasing a New Roof

August 19th 2010
Questions to Ask When Purchasing a New Roof

One question often asked is; "what roofing product is right for my house" particularly in a re-roof application.

Our roofs are getting larger and more visible and our homes are worth more with values increasing. If you are like most, you want to maintain those values and the value of your neighborhood. So, you need a new roof. Now what?

First of all, think about the look you want to achieve and your budget. One of the first questions that should be asked of a homeowner show is looking for a new roof is - what product is on their roof now? This is important because the roof may need additional plywood or structural support depending on what roofing product is chosen. This could have a cost or budget impact. Do you as the homeowner like, for example, a clay or concrete looking roof, slate or wood looking roofing. The budget is very important so the homeowner can keep expectations in line. There are more roofing product choices than ever before so if you know the look you want to achieve then you can narrow down the search.

A couple of quick hints in the search are to not get caught up in warranties. Entry level or builder grade shingles are now a 30 year warranted roof. Depending on the product, the warranties can go from 30 year to lifetime warranties, but most lifetime warranties are really just 50 year warranties. In addition, most roofing products prorate their warranties, so every year they cover less and less. Shingle warranties for the most part only cover manufacture's defects and my experience is that most complaints are driven by roofer error. Warranties are about marketing not necessarily an indication of longevity.

Stay away from entry level or builder grade when re-roofing and go for something better and thicker particularly when choosing an asphalt shingle. The thicker the asphalt shingle is the longer the warranty and the longer the life of the roof and the better your roof will look. There are a lot of different asphalt shingles shapes and sizes so check them out.

When re-roofing you not only get the opportunity to upgrade or modernize your look but you also get the opportunity to correct mistakes the original roof might have had like making sure the ventilation is up to code or fix defects in the roofing deck. Ventilation is one of the biggest roofing issues of today so make sure it is not only up to code but functioning correctly. Attics need air intake and air exhaust and if you have a cathedral ceiling or vaulted ceiling you may need additional measures to meet building code requirements. If you have an old skylight this is the perfect time to replace it as the roofer is already on the roof or if you need to add natural light to a room there are many good products available that are inexpensive and easy to do.

So now what? Where can I go to find my new roof? There is a growing number of roofing distributors that have showrooms. Look for show rooms with multiple brands of roofing products in large static and interactive displays. Many distributors also have very comprehensive websites. Virtually every roofing manufacturer has a website and an extensive picture gallery where homeowners can look at roofs and visualize what their own home would look like. So do your home work, shop around and make sure that what you are looking at has good positive history in your area. Don't be an experiment.

10 things to think about when re-roofing:

1. Don't be fooled by warranties. Warranties are just marketing tools and not a true indication of how long a roof will last. Most warranties only cover manufacturer's defects and not the mistakes the roofer might make which accounts for most of the roofing complaints.

2. Don't be fooled by a manufacturer who claims to need a show home in your neighborhood and offers you a discount. Find the product and look that works for you, your home and your budget.

3. Don't be some manufacturer's experiment. Make sure the manufacture has been in business for a long time. We are seeing to many experimental roofing product companies go out of business. They offer long term warranties but have not been in business more than a few years. Don't be fooled. If it is not a product that is well known do some checking.

4. Do your research, use the internet, find show rooms and get samples. It is a big investment and important to your values. Take your time.

The lowest bidder is not always the right roofer. Get 3 prices so you can compare prices and always ask for references. I tell home owners all the time to ask for the names and address for the last 5 or 6 jobs the roofer has done so you don't just get his best or favorite roof he has done in the past several years.

6. Stay away from entry level or builder grade roofing products. For a little extra money you can get a much better looking shingle that will add value to your home and last a lot longer.

7. Accessorize your roof. There are a lot of accessories like high profile hip and ridge that will add to your home's value and look great.

8. Go for ridge venting when you can but make sure your ventilation is up to code. Regardless of the region of Canada you live in and the weather patterns you need to vent your attic space for your roofing product to last. Venting your attic requires both air intake and air exhaust normally in equal proportions. The best place to exhaust your attic is at the ridge of the roof. Use a ridge vent when you can.

9. The best time to add natural light or replace an old skylight is when you re-roof.

10. Make sure the roofing contractor is up to date on his workman's compensation and insurances. Get copies and check to be sure. Make sure the roofer pays his bills. Sometimes a quick call to his supplier is worth it.