There you are. You’re sitting at your kitchen table, and across from you is a roofing contractor. He’s telling you all about what he’s going to do to replace your roof, how long it will take, and of course, what it will cost. Then he asks if you have any questions.
You feel like you should ask some questions. After all, you’re spending a lot of money for a residential roof you’ll be happy with. You should be comfortable with your contractor’s knowledge and practices, and understand how your roof will work. Right?
But your mind is still spinning and you have no idea what to say.
When choosing a Louisville roofing company to work with your home and family, you should feel comfortable and confident in the contractor, his ability, and the company he represents. Establishing this relationship is important any time you are investing time and money into your home. Knowing what questions to ask your potential contractor is a great place to start.
1. Do you use a complete, matching system of roof components?
Asking this shows the contractor that you’re concerned with not just the shingles, but what is used underneath the surface. You want to ensure all materials (underlayment, ice protector, starter strips, flashing, etc.) are all coming from the same manufacturer in order to ensure a seamless installation process. This question also ensures your contractor understands the building codes in your area, as each state has codes that specify roof component requirements.
2. How many nails per shingle?
This may seem like a trick question, because it is. There’s no correct number because each shingle is different. The correct answer from any qualified contractor will be something like this: “It depends on the specific instructions each manufacturer has for their products. No two shingles are the same.”
3. What type of flashing do you recommend?
Flashing is the primary defense against water leaks. Your roof is only as good as the flashing. If your contractor recommends “face-mount flashing” walk away then and there. The best answer is “Z” flashing for brick or stone siding and “reglet-set” flashing for clapboard siding. These flashings outweigh other options because they integrate with the siding and help prevent water intrusion from wind uplift.
4. How will you seal off the pipe boot?
This is an often-overlooked area. The pope boot is where the vent stacks come up from the roof. Most pipe boot manufacturers don’t offer a warranty, which makes this an important area to protect and seal correctly.
5. What valley installation will you use?
Roof valleys are where the most water gathers when it rains, making them vulnerable to leaks. There is no perfect answer to this because methods of handling valleys have changed over the years. The best approach for your roof depends on the shape of your home and the region where you live. However, ask your contractor what method they use and how it will work and be sure it makes sense to you. Generally, it will include a combination of ice and water protection, flashing, and shingles.
6. How will you cap the ridge vents?
Most roofs have vents on the ridge to allow the roof to breathe and prevent moisture from building up in the attic. It’s also the part of the roof that endures the greatest wind shear. Many contractors may answer this question with three-tab shingles, as this is common practice.
7. How far will the shingles extend over the drip edge?
Water can actually defy gravity. Sure, some will flow down the slope and into the rain gutters, but some rain will hold onto the edge of the shingle and can make its way to the underside. This is how water can find its way to the roof deck and cause damage. Shingles should overhang the drip edge to a nominal quarter inch. This allows water to fall off the shingle and into the gutter.
8. What will the weather be like when you install the shingles?
Installing a roof is a fair-weather job, but Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. If your contractor tells you that they can install the roof in any type of weather, this is true, unless dangerous conditions are presented on installation day. These conditions are most common in the form of heavy downpours or an ice buildup.
Additional Things to Consider
When interviewing potential roofing contractors in Louisville, keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Professionalism, experience, and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily in your decision.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a reliable roofing company:
Insurance: When selecting a roofing company, it is important to choose contractors that have general liability insurance and worker’s comp, because most companies subcontract roofing work. You, as a homeowner, become liable for any accidents if the roofing company is not fully covered. If the worker falls off the roof, the homeowner is now liable. It is not uncommon to ask for copies of their liability coverage and ensure their insurance is in effect throughout the duration of the job.
Location: Don’t choose a roofing company that works on the side or out of their truck. It’s highly recommended that the roofing company you choose has a physical location near your Louisville home. This makes it possible to visit the office and have a conversation with the owner if necessary, or see and pick out your own materials.
Seek Them Out: If someone shows up on your doorstep offering to replace your roof, kindly steer clear. Unfortunately, storm chasing roof operations take advantage of homeowners across the country. Any reliable roofing company will have a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax identification number and, where applicable, a business license.
Reviews: Do your homework and research the roofing company before you sign anything. Ask for referrals, look them up online, and read reviews from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to get a clear picture of the company quality and culture. Ask for references of other homeowners that have used them and give them a call. You can ask them a few questions, such as:
- Would you use this roofer again?
- Did the job match the budget? If not, by how much did the project exceed budget? Were the extra charges justified?
- Did the roofer damage any bushes or flowers, or did he leave nails in your new asphalt driveway?
- Was a designated foreman available to address your concerns during both the tear-off and the installation of the new roof? (These jobs are sometimes done by different crews.) You want a point person for questions and concerns you have throughout the job.
The Warranty: Make sure the roofing company you choose offers a warranty on their work and the finished product itself. Carefully read and understand any roofing warranties offered and watch for provisions that would void it.
Roofing Contracts and Payments
Once you’ve chosen a roofing company and contractor you feel comfortable with, it’s time for paperwork overload. Be sure all of the details of your roof repair are in writing. Take your time to read and understand the contract before signing anything. Your contractor should also always be open to answering any questions you have, as well as be willing to explain any parts of the contract you do not understand.
If you’re not confident in your own understanding, ask a friend, relative or even an attorney to review the contract with you before you sign.
If you get a loan to pay for the work, be cautious about using your home as security and consider asking an attorney to review the loan documents as well. Always get a copy of the final, signed contract for keeping, before the job begins.
Resist dealing with any contractor who asks you to pay for the entire job up-front. A deposit of half of the total price is standard procedure. Pay only by check or credit card – and pay the final amount only after the work is completed to your satisfaction.
Choose The Right Roofing Company
Replacing your roof requires a significant investment of both time and money, and can be daunting for most Louisville homeowners. Making sure you know the right questions to ask will help you choose the best contractor and make sure you are equipped to understand the process of protecting your home.
Abrams Roofing provides top quality roof installations in order to keep your structure safe and sound. We are locally owned and operated, with a reputation for using superior materials and quality craftsmanship you can count on. The contractors at Abrams take pride in their high level of training and roofing expertise. Our roofs stand the test of time, backed by the best warranties in the business.
For more information or additional questions, contact Abrams Roofing & Sheet Metal today!