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Personal Perspective


By March 1, 2011No Comments

A new roof is a major home expense and often a very big job. You can save yourself a lot of headache and money in the long run by becoming familiar with roofing materials, warranties, cost, and contractors before the job begins.

Materials. As far as roofing materials go, they should protect the home from hail, rain, snow, wind, and possibly fire. The life of your roof is actually highly impacted by these common weather conditions. Your geographic location and the specifics of your lot also impact the life of a roof. Take a home located in the southwest desert area for an example; the sun and extreme heat can cause your roof to age and disintegrate more rapidly than in other areas of the country. Another example would be the negative impacts on a roof caused by dampness or tree materials, such as a home in a humid area being positioned under a large mossy tree.

Roofing material manufacturers aren’t required to submit their products for testing to measure for resistance to fire, wind, hail, and so forth, but some manufacturers opt to have their product rated. This rating can help determine which material best suits your home. Unrated products have either failed their rating test or not been tested. UL 2218, a test designed by Underwriters’ Laboratories, measures resistance to hail. Under this test, the greatest hail resistant product is a Class 4 roofing material.

Roofing products can receive a Class A fire rating, which indicates effectiveness against severe fire exposure; a Class B fire rating, which indicates effectiveness against moderate fire exposure; or a Class C fire rating, which indicates effectiveness against light fire exposure. You can also use some common sense to help you determine fire resistance, such as clay shingles logically offering greater fire protection than wood shingles. Keep in mind that some local building codes might require you to use a certain standard or class of material.

Windy conditions can rip shingles from the roof or lift the edges up and allow water to seep into the roof. Local building codes in wind-prone areas might suggest that additional nails be used to hold down certain types of shingles, such as asphalt composite shingles.

Warranties. Whatever grade or type of product you choose to complete your new roof, always read the fine print of the warranty very carefully and save one in case you need to refer to it in the future. There are several different types of warranties, including any of the following:

  • First owner – only the owner that bought the roof is covered.
  • Pro-rated – the claim is based on how old the roof is.
  • Wind – only covers damage caused directly by wind.
  • Hail – only covers damage caused directly by hail.
  • Material defects and workmanship- most products come with a manufacturer warranty covering defects in their product for 20 or more years. However, be aware that this manufacturer warranty is useless if your contractor installs the product incorrectly. This is why you need a workmanship warranty written into your contract with your contractor.

Cost. The cost of a new roof varies depending on what materials are used and the labor necessary to install the chosen materials. The weather conditions and specifics of the geographic location, as mentioned above, mean that certain roofing materials and products will be more common to specific areas of the country. Additionally, your homeowner’s association might have stipulations on what type(s) of roofing material you may use. Keep in mind that certain types of roofing materials will require more extensive labor to install, therefore raising the overall price. A roof with a steep pitch also generally increases the cost of labor since it takes more time to install the materials and poses a greater safety risk to workers. When comparing prices, also keep in mind that a roof is measured in squares. One square is equivalent to a 10×10 foot or 100 square foot section.

Contractors. Choosing the right roofing contractor is just as important as choosing the right roofing materials. Shop around and seek multiple bids on your roof. You are looking for a roofer that is established, licensed, and bonded. Before hiring a contractor, ask for references and verify their certificate of insurance and license. You might also check the businesses’ status with the Better Business Bureau and/or local chamber of commerce. Ask the contractor for a written estimate that contains details regarding all material charges, labor charges, a specified start date, and estimated completion date. Remember, when picking a contractor, the lowest bid isn’t necessarily the best deal. Make sure that your payment method and workmanship warranty is specified in your contract.

In closing, knowing these basic points on roofing beforehand can help you choose the right materials and contractor, at the right price, for your home.