How to buy a new roof – all about getting a new composition shingle roof and the re-roof process from to start to finish.
So how do you go about buying a new roof nowadays? What's the very first step? And the last one? And what exactly goes on during the re-roof process?
If you're facing the prospect of getting a new roof, don't be surprised if you're facing a little intimidation too. That's not unusual. Buying a new roof is a pretty rare event, and not without some aura of mystery for most first-time roof buyers. Getting a new roof is usually one of those things you get familiar with because you have to. And when it's over, it's not hard to forget about it.
You'll probably have lots of questions (besides the ones mentioned above). Do I need to be home? How long does it take to put on a new roof? What about the dogs? Or the tortoise? (Yes, the large family tortoise - after a few decades in this business you tend to see it all.)
If buying a new roof is all Greek to you, just take a deep breath and we'll walk you through.
To help put things in perspective, you might compare buying a new roof to smashing your car. (But not totaling it.) What do you do first? Well, after the tears you usually contact some companies and collect a few bids. (In roofing, the 'bid' usually serves as the contract too.) Maybe you already know a good roofer, or your insurance company does. Read our article on Choosing a Great Roofer for some great advice.
Buying a new roof is also like buying a new wood fence, or replacing old carpet. Maybe a storm did some damage, or it's all just wear and tear. Keep in mind that even if insurance is footing the bill you can still choose who you want.
The price of a new composition shingle roof depends on a few different factors. (You knew we'd say that.) How big is your house? How many stories? Is it steep? Is there another layer of roofing underneath the first one? What about rotten wood? Is the house hard to access? Are there skylights and chimneys that need some attention?
Keep in mind that your roofer wants your business (they've got bills to pay too). Rest assured that a reputable roofing company will be trying as hard as they can to be as competitive as possible.
It's best to have a face-to-face meeting with your roofer at your house (or wherever the property is that'll be getting the new roof). If possible, include your spouse if they're part of the deal. A meeting on the premises makes it easier to tell the roofer your concerns, point out any leaks or areas of interest, and even introduce the dog (or tortoise, or whatever the case may be). It'll be easier to communicate, and a meeting 'on the ground' ensures a more thorough and accurate estimate, and ultimately a better job.
Afterwards, if you prefer, you can do business (meaning checking out the contract and even signing it) via email, the Post Office, and/or fax. (Again, the following terms are usually interchangeable in the roofing business, i.e., the bid, the contract, the proposal, and the estimate.)
Discuss 'extras' and possible surprises that might inadvertently affect the final cost of a new roof. Nobody likes surprises, and neither does the roofer – there's very little money in fixing things like rotted decking and fascia (the trim board around the edge of the roof). Again, see our article on Choosing a Great Roofer, particularly tip # nine.
It's standard practice, when buying a new roof, for the roofer to address specifically any possible unforeseen extra costs, and spell things out in the contract. Make sure you know what's included and what's not.
Also go over attic ventilation strategy and ask about upgrading exhaust pipes. Ask the roofer, if applicable, about chimneys and skylights. And if permits or inspections are involved, ask who's responsible. If you live in an area where hurricanes are a problem there'll be extra regulations and inspections. (In Texas we have the high-wind 'TWIA' code.)
At this point your roofer may or may not ask for a deposit (since, in most cases, roofing materials will be immediately ordered and delivered to your property).
How do you know the right shingle to get, or what kind of roofing materials to talk over with your roofer? This part is pretty easy for most true-blue Americans, since the vast majority of homes in the U.S. are covered with composition shingles - and the vast majority of all brand new roofs are composition shingles.
30, 40, and even 50 year warranty laminated shingles are the most popular types of composition shingles. Get the heaviest composition shingle you can afford, if you live in a 'high-wind' area. (The higher the warranty the heavier the shingle.) Even better, get a more durable 'lifetime' roof if you can, like metal or tile. Your roofer will be more than happy to assist you.
Composition shingles are so common and widely-used that often an experienced roofer will have a certain color and warranty in mind within moments of seeing your house. In fact, there's a good chance your new composition shingle roof will be similar to your old one in many respects, especially if you live in a neighborhood. A good roofer will make suggestions and guide you along. Choosing a composition shingle that's right for you is usually a fairly straightforward and painless process.
What happens next after signing the contract, and what's the best way to prepare for your brand new roof? Once you've hooked up with a trustworthy roofer, relax and let them do their job. Their reputation is on the line, so they'll be aiming to please. You'll be covered by a workmanship warranty, plus they'll want you for a reference in the future.
Look at your new roof job as a bona fide construction project. The existing roof will (usually) be stripped, so there'll be some debris. You'll be slightly inconvenienced and the noise will drive you crazy, but a new composition shingle roof can take less than two days! Most people are fascinated by the whole process and amazed at the speed of the workers.
Once your materials are delivered things start to move pretty fast, barring inclement weather. For example, look how quickly the roofing company's sign appears in the yard! Since weather is a big factor, the agreed upon 'start date' for your new roof job is subject to change, so it helps to be flexible. Make sure there's electricity outside, and leave a contact number in case a supervisor needs inside. If you happen to be home, you can watch the giant delivery truck complete with forklift attached to the rear place your materials in the drive – it's pretty neat.
Below is a final 'heads-up' list of things to be aware of, what to expect, and how to prepare for the installation of your new composition shingle roof (or any other type roof).
*A new roof project is extremely loud if you're inside the house. If your nerves are easily rattled, arrange to be somewhere else (and keep in mind the crew may be ripping things apart and banging away right up until dark).
*A new roof is a war, um, construction zone (minus the little warning flags), so be careful going in and out of the house, especially with small kids.
*'Secure' your vehicles and pets (don't let the Rottweiler eat the crewmembers) and be prepared for the spoiled inside-critters to freak out.
*You should also secure outside ornaments of interest, potted plants, and stuff on the ceilings and walls. (It's not a bad idea to 'secure' the neighbors and the burglar alarm too.)
*Your roofing crew will have plenty of tarps and rolls of plastic and tarpaper on hand for bad weather, and they'll batten down the hatches when it's time to go home.
*Once again, make sure there's electricity outside (in case of bad wood), and don't fret if there's roof granules in the driveway and gutter, for several weeks to come.
After your new roof is installed, first breathe a sigh of relief. That wasn't so bad, right? Everybody was in and out like a flash. Then ask your sales rep or supervisor to please check things out, and do a final walk-through, if they haven't already. (You can mention the term 'punch-out' if you want to sound cool.)
You'll know things are almost over when the crew starts packing and cleaning up, which usually comes complete with a magnetic sweep of the driveway and grounds.
Now you can swap the final payment for a warranty. (If a windstorm inspector has been part of your roof job they may stop by one more time.)
Finally, you can pull the cars back around, unleash Brutus, (or the tortoise), and make inquiry about any last-minute items that might be on your mind.
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