First Steps to a New Roof

A roof is one of the most important components of a home, protecting it from the elements and keeping its inhabitants safe inside. When a roof begins to show signs of normal wear and tear or reaches is maximum lifetime, it’s time to consider having a new roof installed.

Hiring an experienced professional roofing contractor for a reasonable price on a roofing job requires some preparation. Luckily, there are a few basic considerations that will make the process much smoother.

Research Local Roofing Contractors

The starting place for selecting a new roof begins with researching local roofing contractors. In an urban area, a quick peak in the phonebook or online search could result in hundreds of options. In a smaller city or town, the results may be limited to only a few. In either case, a good way to start the search for a roofing contractor is by asking family or friends for references of roofing contractors they’ve used. Word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising for roofing contractors.

Some good questions to ask are: Did the person providing the reference feel like they received a fair price? Was the work completed on time? Did the contractor take the time to explain the estimate, the type of materials, costs and the process for completing the roofing job? Make a list of the roofing contractors that receive good recommendations along with a list of any positive or negative comments.

The Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List and other contractor-related websites are online resources that can also be used to compile references on roofing contractors. Take the time to read through the reviews and make note any complaints and their rankings.

It’s also wise to know the common roofing terms. The more knowledge you have about the roofing industry, the easier it will be to make an informed decision.

Get More Than One Estimate

Contact the top three roofing contractors with the best references, reviews and rankings in the area to request an estimate. It’s important to get more than one estimate so comparisons can be made among the roofing contractors.

Each estimate should detail the work to be performed, the materials to be used and labor costs. The more details that are included the better. For example, a good estimate should include a breakdown including the type of roof materials to be installed, color, roof ventilation, flashing and skylights (if applicable) and labor costs.

Understanding Material and Labor Costs

Composition roofs, or shingle roofs, are the most common type of residential roofing product and are the least expensive to install. But with thousands of choices available, selecting the right shingle can be a daunting task. A professional roofing contractor can explain differences such as length of warranties, Energy Star ratings, and impact resistance ratings for weather-related issues.

Metal, slate and tile roofs are other options that offer some qualities not found with composition roofs such as a much longer average lifespan and lower maintenance and repair costs. The initial cost for materials and labor will be higher for these types of roofing materials, but are offset by the savings over the life of the roof.

In addition to speaking with a roofing contractor, plenty of information is available on manufacturer websites that can assist in the selection of roofing materials.

An estimate includes both the cost of materials and the cost of labor to complete the roofing job. Labor costs vary by region and are based on the pitch of the roof as well as the quality and types of materials. A professional roofing contractor will base the cost on the entire roofing area, usually figured per 100 square feet.

For example, a 1000 square foot area with a labor estimate of $80 per square feet would total $800 in labor costs (1000/100=10; 10x$80=$800).

Once the estimates have been reviewed, it’s time to select the best roofing contractor for your new roof. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarification about inconsistencies in the estimates. A professional roofing contractor will be happy to take the time to thoroughly discuss your roofing job to make sure you’re satisfied with the end result.