Odds are there’s probably more than one type of roof that would be suitable for your home. We think the key is figuring out what types of roofs are not candidates and going from there. Doing so could save a lot of headaches and financial burden down the road. Here’s a list of some simple but crucially important factors that should be answered before selecting a product and company. This will put you on the right path to making the optimal decision.
1. Whats your geographic location and climate like?
Relating your geographic location to a product could quite possibly be the most valuable piece of information when choosing a roof. As we all know climate’s can be polar opposites at different times of the year. If you live in the south snow can be an issue once in a while, but nowhere near as much of an issue as intense heat and the threat of hurricanes. Even if you’re inland your not guaranteed to be out of their reach. Hurricane Ivan showed us this as it moved from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic across dry land only to resurface and wreak havoc on the coastal towns of the Carolinas and the northeastern Outer Banks before disappearing into the Atlantic. Making sure a roofing material has been tested in UL wind tunnels and the pre-engineered installation procedures meet or exceed that of hurricane force winds if you live on the coast quite frankly could be a matter of life and death if one chose to stay in their home during the storm. Also, choosing a material that can reflect heat naturally and cool fast such as metal roofing can and will lower your energy bills.
2. What is the slope of your roof? Is it steep, moderate, or nearly flat?
Knowing the precise pitch of your roof can determine what roofing systems the building code will allow to be installed per your slope. This will directly affect your roof inspections passing or failing. Taking a look at the manufacturers product approvals and specifications in regards to your home’s slope will guarantee a full warranty and active homeowners insurance.
3. Is your homes structural framing strong enough to hold the weight of the new roof?
This question becomes relevant in a couple different instances. The first and more common one is if you are re-roofing your home and going over the existing roof or roofs. In which case one would need to know the existing weight per square of the material that is currently on the home and then add the weight per square of the new roofing material. When going over an existing roof with another asphalt shingle roof or a lightweight metal roof there is usually no issue of weight consideration. However, this is not the case with wood shakes, slate, clay tiles, and concrete tiles as they can add a considerable amount of strain to structure. New homes that are being built to hold concrete tile, clay tile, and slate can require an extra 10 to 20% construction cost to enforce the homes structural members in order to handle the weight. When building, choosing a lighter, stronger material such as metal can save significant costs upfront and long-term lifecycle costs down the road.
4. When do plan on replacing your roof? 15 years? 20 years? Or ideally never?
As if the cost of a new roof isn’t enough, realizing that you will have to put another one on down the road can almost be heartbreaking and/or bank breaking depending on your situation. I think that everyone can agree that asphalt shingles have many appealing properties. They are affordable, come in all kinds of attractive architectural profiles, and don’t add a lot of stress to the structural members of the home. So what’s the problem? There isn’t one as long as you understand that the manufacturers claim to life expectancy is a complete fallacy. Only in the most perfect year-round mild climate would they ever last the amount of time that they are advertised to. Kind of like the great mpg’s advertised on the window of that new truck you bought until you drive it off the lot. Again, tested in the perfect atmosphere, flat land and an ideal climate. There are permanent roofing solutions out there, yes they cost more up front but can save you big bucks in the long run considering roof maintenance and inflation.
5. Is the company that you’re looking at to install your roof licensed and insured?
This question is slightly off-topic but crucial. A business license is not a professional roofing contractor’s license. Most states in the southeast require a true professional license to practice the trade, Georgia unfortunately does not. Check and see if the company your looking at has a professional roofing license in other states besides the one you reside in. Companies with contractor specific licensing are held to a higher installation standard in states that require them. Florida for example, depending on what county you are in can require anywhere from 3 to 5 inspections from the building official per job. This is a win-win for the homeowner. In addition to appropriate licensing making sure a company has insurance on their workers is vital to protect you as a homeowner. If a company doesn’t have insurance and something happens to one of the workers while on your property the law says that you are financially responsible. Inspect what you expect and this will never happen to you. Check the company’s insurance certificates personally. Talk to as many homeowners as you can that have used the company and ask about their experiences with them.