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Updated on January 21, 2016


Getting a roof estimate
Getting a roof estimate | Source

Question 1

Do you have liability insurance on the home and labour insurance?

If you ever been in the construction business you will know that roofing is one of the most dangerous and physically demanding careers around. You really do not see a roofing crew member up on a roof that is past the age of fifty actually doing the manual work. This is by far one of the most riskiest home renovations you are going to have to do on your home so it is imperative that the roofing company that is working on your home has insurance covering the labour that is doing the job as well as the home they are working on.

Even during the roofing production the weather can have a unexpected change and if the attic is half exposed to the outside elements then you may in for a major repair that you can probably only afford if the insurance company is forking some of the bill.

Question 2

Are you able to protect the flower bed?

Most roofing jobs occur in the spring and summer so when the daisies are at their best you may find a team of roofers bringing tons of material through with their tools and then removing tons of roofing waste material to be placed in a waste bin sixty feet from the house. Professional roofers do have methods of protecting the plants, glass and the ornaments that surround the home with items like tarps and plywood.

If you bring this subject up during the estimation process at least you have set up a conversation and maybe a plan of action both verbally and in writing as to how they are going to protect your home.

Roofer | Source

Question 3

Do you offer a labour warranty?

Every roofing company offers a warranty on the roofing material because the warranty on the product is owned by the roofing material manufacturer. It is easy to pull the paper work and application form that comes with every roofing package of shingles and ensure that your home has a warranty covering the material. A respectable roofing company will stand behind their work. A roofing company that will offer a labour warranty, even in the short term.

The average labour warranty starts at five years to ten years. I guess it is important to know the history of the roofing company if they have only been operating for less the five years. A new roof should be fine in the first five years so therefore a labour warranty to reassure the home owner that the workmanship of the roof is satisfactory to face the elements in the long-term.

Question 4

How many vents are you going to install on my roof?

This is always an unusual question for a home owner as many did not even know that there was a potential problem if they failed to ask the question. Basically there are rules to the amount of roof vents a home is supposed to have on the roof. It may vary from region to region but first understand what happens if you do not add enough roof vents to the home.

The home produces a large amount of moisture and as a result this humidity gets trapped in the home. It is created when we breathe, cook and shower and all this moisture has an effect of the temperature of the home and the ability to manage it. The high moisture in the winter here in North America freezes and in the summer the temperature shoots up especially in the attic just below the deck that is directly facing the sun all day long.

These two extremes cause a lot of damage on the roofing shingle in the short term and also costs the home owner additional funds, trying to manage these extreme temperatures if there are not enough roof vents helping the moisture level to remain low.

You cannot over ventilate and it is not hard to go online to work out what the ventilating requirements in your region. The way you work it out here in British Columbia is really simple. Basically you divide your attic square footage by one hundred and fifty and the result is the total area of roof that has to be cut for roof vents. They sit just below the peak or ridge of the roof and in many cases look like small boxes.

Gable / Rake flashing
Gable / Rake flashing | Source

Question 5

Where are you replacing the flashing?

Flashing is the metal barriers that are installed in areas where something that is not a roof meets a roof. So if you have a chimney, skylight or if a roof meets and wall or a roof meets siding. This is vital because it is these areas where in theory the weakest barrier against the elements exists. It is an important question as this is one areas of a roof that is a constant issue for roofing companies if they are dealing with a heritage home or if the chimney was built without counter flashing or they need to be installed on the gables amongst other issues.

It is always best to replace the flashing when you are replacing the roof but the practice of the builder of the home varies. It is not unusual to come across flashing that is actually attached to the home or the flashing used is custom made and now the roofing contractor now has to get special flashing cut for your home.

If the roofing company is unable to remove the flashing, than the roofer has to access if the flashing that is attached is going to be able to withstand the life of another roof. Discussing flashing is also an indication to the roofing contractor that you as a home owner are fully educated in the ways of a re-roofing project and that you are not going to miss a roofing short cut like reusing old roof flashing.

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Question 6

Have you any roofs in the neighborhood I can see?

This is a good question if you want a better idea of the colour choice of the shingle. The samples are never large enough to truly get an idea of what it will look like on your roof. Various shading is added to the roofing shingle to give a visual impression that you are looking at cedar shake.

You also get to see the kind of work the contractor has previously done and the difficulty they have had to face. If the roofing contractor is smart enough they will direct you to a property with the same sort of design and challenges that they would face on your property.

So if you have a steep angled roof or, heritage home, difficult terrain, cedar conversion or any other unique or difficult situation then do not hesitate to ask the roofer to direct you to a home where he or she has faced the same kind of challenge. This brings a discussion about the challenges of your roof, what the roofer learned from past experiences and how they plan to tackle the same issues on your home.

roof waste
roof waste | Source

Question 7

You remove all the debris right?

This is a given as I cannot imagine a roofing company that would not include the disposal of the old roofing material but how deep they go into the clean up can make all the difference. For one the gutters around the home are going to be jammed with debris as they are the first object the falling debris is going to come across. Ensuring the roofing company does this before they go can help you avoid any long-term damage to your gutters, downpipes and fascia boards as well as save you a headache when the rains come and you learn you have a big job on your hands long after the roofer is gone.

A magnetic rake should always be used by any roofing company as they are extremely effective and affordable. When a roof is removed thousands of nails that hold down the shingle come off and roll down onto the property. As the debris is moved to the waste bin nails are dislodged and spread in the lawn and dirt. These nails are old and rusty and hold a potential to hurt children and animals. Running a magnetic rake over the property ensures that everyone who utilizes the property is safe from harm including your car tires.

Question 8

Flat or raised caps?

The capping of a roof is purely a visual element to the roof for the purpose of street appeal. This is a question if street appeal is a large factor, or vise versa if saving money is something you have in mind. The roofing contractors in my experience gets in the habit of installing a certain type of roofing cap and forget that for many home owners this is an option they would actually like to make.

The flat cap is more affordable and is generally a roofing shingle that has been cut up and installed as a cap. This form of capping is the weakest part of the roof in the long-term. The cut up shingle acting as a cap sits directly under the elements and is generally the first part of roof to generate a hole and leak.

The raised cap is a part of the roof designed and built to be an actual cap for the roof. It is by far thicker than the shingle so that when it faces direct radiation and water over the years it can withstand these elements. On a side note the raised capping is supposed to resemble the cedar shake and so visually looks more like cedar than any other product.


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