Early spring is a recommended time for roof inspections (the other being just before winter), so that any damage or problems can be taken care of before the heavy rains start. If your roof inspection indicates it’s time for a replacement, you may have decided to get several estimates, which is understandable, because a new roof is not cheap. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. Your estimates – if based on comparable materials – should come in fairly close to the same amount if you’re dealing with reputable roofers. Keep in mind that sometimes roofing contractors offer discounts to jump-start the spring remodeling season, so factor that in to the numbers you get.
If you find that one estimate is significantly lower than the others, you would be wise to check on the references this roofer provides. “Bargain” roofs often are cheap up front for a reason – the contractor took some shortcuts that will cost you money down the line because of expensive repairs or a prematurely failed roof. Here are some things to watch out for:
- A tear-off that isn’t. If you’re not home during the day to observe the work and there’s no dumpster full of old roofing shingles to show the old roof was torn off before the new one was installed, how do you know you actually got a tear-off? Ask the contractor to remove a shingle at random from the upper area of the roof. You should see roofing felt underneath, not shingles or bare roof decking. A roof tear-off is extremely important. Not only is it a code requirement if there are a certain number of layers underneath, but installing new shingles over failed ones could mean your new roof will also fail in a short time. If there is a moisture problem under that old roof, it’s only a matter of time before it affects the new one.
- Not enough ice & water shield. Building code requires installation of a certain amount of this product, which is intended to prevent damage to the roof structure in the event ice builds up under the shingles from frozen gutters. But some unscrupulous roofing installers cut corners and try to save money by installing less than the required amount of this expensive product. Who’s going to see, right? The problem – a large amount of roofing repairs are due to this defect.
- No roofing felt (also called felt paper). Like ice & water shield, this product is also hidden, but it has a definite purpose. In the event a shingle or section comes loose, it prevents water from seeping into the structure underneath. It should be installed on the entire roof above the ice & water sections.
- Lack of “starter shingles” at the roof edge. Shingles are constructed with asphalt strips which allow them to adhere to the section underneath. “Starter shingles” are a special product meant to be installed at the roof edge so that the first course of regular shingles can stick to them. Sometimes roofers simply begin with the regular shingles, which will blow loose at the edge because there’s no adhesive strip underneath to stick to.
- Staples instead of nails. Staples are cheaper, but they pull out easily, and they are about half the length of roofing nails. Ask your prospective contractor if nails or staples will be used – insist on nails.
The best way to make sure you’re getting a quality roofing job is to hire a reputable roofing contractor. Ask for references, get referrals, check on credentials. And don’t be afraid to stop by in the course of the job just to “check on the progress.” At Iron River Construction we’re proud of the quality roofing installation we do, and we don’t mind if you check up on us – our happy customers will be glad to tell you what kind of a job we did for them.