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How Buy a New Roof and Pick the Right Roofing Contractor
The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) is pleased to provide you with this information by William A. Good, CAE
Executive Vice President, National Roofing Contractors AssociationRoof system components
All steep-slope roof systems (i.e., roofs with slopes of 25 percent or more) have five basic components
1. Roof covering: shingles, tile, slate or metal and underlayment that protect the sheathing from weather.
2. Sheathing: boards or sheet material that are fastened to roof rafters to cover a house or building.
3. Roof structure: rafters and trusses constructed to support the sheathing.
4. Flashing: sheet metal or other material installed into a roof system's various joints and valleys to prevent water seepage.
5. Drainage: a roof system's design features, such as shape, slope and layout that affect its ability to shed water.
Two Most Common Roofs - Asphalt & Metal Roofs
Asphalt shingles possess an overwhelming share of the U.S. steep-slope roofing market and can be reinforced with organic or fiberglass materials. Although asphalt shingles reinforced with organic felts have been around much longer, fiberglass-reinforced products now dominate the market.
Organic shingles consist of a cellulose-fiber (i.e., wood) base that is saturated with asphalt and coated with colored mineral granules.
Fiberglass shingles consist of a fiberglass mat, top-and-bottom layers of asphalt, and mineral granules.
Metal, primarily thought of as a low-slope roofing material, has been found to be a roofing alternative for home and building owners with steep-slope roofs. There are two types of metal roofing products: panels and shingles. Numerous metal panel shapes and configurations exist. Metal shingles typically are intended to simulate traditional roof coverings, such as wood shakes, shingles and tile. Apart from metal roofing's longevity, metal shingles are relatively lightweight, have a greater resistance to adverse weather and can be aesthetically pleasing. Some have Class A fire ratings.
Choosing a contractor
Buying a new roof system is an important investment. Before you spend your money, spend time learning how to evaluate roofing contractors. You should insist on working with a professional roofing contractor. NRCA wants to assist you in getting the kind of results you expect—a quality roof system at a fair price. All roofing contractors are not alike, and NRCA recommends that you prequalify roofing contractors to get the job done right the first time. The following guidelines will help you select a professional:
Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax identification number and, where applicable, a business license.
Don't hesitate to ask a roofing contractor for proof of insurance. In fact, insist on seeing copies of his liability coverage and workers' compensation certificates. (U.S. workers' compensation laws vary by state. Consult your state's laws to determine workers' compensation insurance requirements.) Make sure the coverages are in effect through the duration of the job. Many building and home owners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured roofing contractors. Also, if a contractor is not properly insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on your property.
Check to see if the roofing contractor is properly licensed or bonded. Some states have specific licensing requirements, and others do not. Your state's Department of Professional Regulation or Licensing Board will have this information.
Make sure the contractor is financially stable. A professional roofing contractor can provide current financial information about his company.
Look for a company with a proven track record that offers client references and a list of completed projects. Call these clients to find out whether they were satisfied.
Insist on a detailed, written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures.
Have the contractor explain his project supervision and quality-control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge of your project, how many workers will be required and estimated completion time.
Call your local Better Business Bureau or Department of Professional Regulation to check for possible complaints filed against the contractor.
Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors' below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work. Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a roofing contractor. Professionalism, experience and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily in your decision.