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A Home Owner's Guide to Buying a New Roof (FYI)
A Home Owner's Guide to Buying a New Roof (FYI)
Buying a new roof ... and getting your money's worth.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?

There are a number of things to consider when selecting a new roof system. Of course, cost and durability head the list, but aesthetics and architectural style are important, too. The right roof system is the one that balances these four considerations.

Asphalt shingles - which possess an overwhelming share of the U.S. residential roofing market—can be reinforced with either organic or fiberglass materials. Although shingles reinforced with organic felts have been around much longer, fiberglass-reinforced products now dominate the market.

Organic shingles consist of a cellulose-fiber (i.e., wood) base that is saturated with asphalt and coated with colored mineral granules. To fight fungus growth in warm, wet climates, they are available with special algicide granules.

Fiberglass shingles consist of a fiberglass mat, top-and-bottom layers of asphalt, and mineral granules. Typically, a fiberglass mat offers greater durability, but its manufacture is important.

The fire resistance of asphalt shingles, like most other roofing materials, is categorized by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) Class A, B, or C. Class A is the most fire-resistant, while Classes B and C have less fire resistance. Generally, most fiberglass shingles have Class A fire ratings, and most organic shingles have Class C ratings. UL Class A fire ratings are available for certain products that incorporate a factory-applied, fire-resistant treatment.

A shingle's reinforcement will have little effect on its appearance. Both organic and fiberglass products are available in laminated (architectural) grades that offer a textured appearance. Zinc or copper-coated ceramic granules also can be applied to either organic or fiberglass products to protect against algae attack, a common problem in hot, humid climates. Both types of shingles also are available in a variety of colors.

Wood shingles and shakes - are made from cedar, redwood, southern pine, and other woods. Shingles are machine-sawn; shakes are hand-hewn and rougher looking. Their natural look is popular in California, the Northwest, and parts of the Midwest. A point to consider: Some local building codes limit their use because of concerns about fire resistance. Many wood shingles and shakes only have a UL Class C fire rating (or no rating at all).

Tile - clay or concrete - is a durable but fairly expensive roofing material. "Mission-style" and "Spanish" round-topped tiles are used widely in the Southwest and Florida, and flat styles also are available to create French and English looks. Tile is available in a variety of colors and finishes. Note: Tile is heavy. If you are replacing another type of roof system with tile, you will need to verify that the structure will support the load.

Slate - is quarried in places such as Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Canada. It comes in different colors and grades, depending on its origin. Considered virtually indestructible, it is, however, more expensive than other roofing materials. In addition, its application requires skill and experience. Many old homes in the Northeast still are protected by this long-lasting roofing material.

Metal - primarily thought of as a commercial roofing material, has been found to be an attractive roofing alternative for home owners. There are a variety of metal shingles intended to simulate traditional roof coverings, such as wood shakes, shingles, and tile. Apart from metal roofing's longevity, metal shingles are relatively lightweight, typically have a Class A fire rating, have a greater resistance to adverse weather, and can be aesthetically pleasing.

Synthetic roof products - simulate various types of traditional roof coverings, such as slate and wood shingles and shakes. A point to consider: Although synthetic roof products may simulate the appearance of traditional roof coverings, they do not necessarily have the same properties.

We recommend that you look at full-size samples of the proposed product, along with manufacturers' brochures, or visit a building that is roofed with that product before making a buying decision.

All roof systems have five basic components:

  1. Roof structure: the rafters and trusses constructed to support the sheathing.
  2. Deck/sheathing: the boards or sheet material that are fastened to the roof rafters to cover a house.
  3. Underlayment: a sheet of asphalt-saturated material used as a secondary layer of protection for the roof deck
  4. Roof covering: shingles, tiles, etc., that protect the sheathing from weather.
  5. Drainage: the features of the roof system's design, such as shape, slope, layout, etc., that affect its ability to shed water.
  6. Flashing: sheet metal or other material laid into the various joints and valleys of a roof system to prevent water seepage.

VENTILATION IS KEY

One of the most critical factors in roof system durability is proper ventilation. Without it, heat and moisture buildup in the attic area combine to cause rafters and sheathing to rot, roof shingles to buckle, and insulation to lose its effectiveness.

Therefore, it is important never to block off sources of roof ventilation, such as louvers, ridge vents, or soffit vents, even in winter. Proper attic ventilation will help prevent structural damage caused by moisture, increase the life of the roofing material, reduce energy consumption, and enhance the comfort level of the rooms below the attic.

In addition to the free flow of air, insulation plays a key role in proper attic ventilation. An ideal attic has:

  1. A gap-free layer of insulation on the floor to protect the house below from heat gain or loss.
  2. A vapor retarder under the insulation next to the warm ceiling below to stop moisture from rising into the attic.
  3. Enough open, vented spaces properly located to allow air to pass in and out freely.
  4. A minimum of 1 inch (more space is preferred) between the insulation and roof sheathing.

The requirements for proper attic ventilation may vary greatly, depending on where the home is located, as well as the home site's conditions, such as exposure to the sun, shade, and atmospheric humidity. Nevertheless, the general formula is based on the length and width of the attic. NRCA recommends a minimum of 1 square foot of free vent area for each 150 square feet of attic floor—with vents placed proportionately at the eaves (i.e., soffits) and near the ridge.

EVEN ROOFS HAVE ENEMIES

Sun: Heat and ultraviolet rays cause roofing materials to deteriorate over time. The deterioration can occur faster on the sides facing west or south.

Rain: When water gets underneath shingles, shakes, or other roofing materials, it can work its way to the deck and cause the roof structure to rot. The extra moisture encourages mildew and rot elsewhere in the house, including damaged walls, ceilings, insulation, and electrical system.

Wind: High winds can lift the edges of shingles (or other roofing materials) and force water—and debris—underneath them. Very high winds can do extensive damage.

Snow and ice: Melting snow often refreezes at the roof's overhang (where the surface is cooler), forming an ice dam and blocking proper drainage into the gutter. Instead, the water backs up under the shingles and seeps into the interior. During the early melt stages, gutters and downspouts can be the first to fill with ice and be damaged beyond repair or torn off the house.

Condensation: Condensation can result from the buildup of relatively warm, moisture-laden air. Moisture in a poorly ventilated attic promotes decay of the wood sheathing and rafters, possibly destroying the roof structure. The solution may be to increase attic ventilation through the use of larger or additional vents so the attic air temperature will be closer to the outside air temperature.

Moss and algae: Moss can grow on wood shingles and shakes if they are kept moist by poor sunlight conditions or bad drainage. Once it grows, moss holds even more moisture to the roof surface, causing rot, and its roots actually work their way into the wood. Algae also grows in damp, shaded areas on wood or asphalt shingle roof systems. Besides creating an ugly black-green stain, algae can retain moisture, causing rot and deterioration. Trees and bushes should be trimmed away from the house to eliminate damp, shaded areas, and gutters should be kept clean to ensure good drainage.

Trees and leaves: Tree branches touching the roof will scratch and gouge roofing materials as they are blown back and forth by the wind. Falling branches from overhanging trees can damage—or even puncture—shingles and other roofing materials. Leaves on the roof system's surface retain moisture and cause rot, and leaves in the gutters block drainage.

Missing or torn shingles: The key to a roof system's effectiveness is complete protection. When shingles are missing or torn off, the roof structure and interior of the home are vulnerable to water damage and rot. The problem is likely to spread—nearby shingles are easily ripped or blown away. Missing or torn shingles should be replaced as soon as possible.

Shingle deterioration: When shingles get old and worn out, they curl, split, and lose their waterproofing effectiveness. Weakened shingles are easily blown off, torn, or lifted by wind gusts. The end result is structural rot and interior damage. A deteriorated roof system only gets worse with time, and it should be replaced as soon as possible.

Flashing deterioration: WMany apparent roof leaks really are flashing leaks. Without good, tight flashings around chimneys, vents, skylights, and wall/roof junctions, water can sneak into the house and cause damage to the walls, ceilings, insulation, and electrical system. Flashings should be checked as part of a twice-yearly roof inspection and gutter cleaning.


CHOOSING A CONTRACTOR

Buying a new roof system is an important investment. Before you spend your money, spend some time learning how to evaluate the roofing contractor who may be doing the work. You should insist on working with a professional roofing contractor. NRCA wants to assist you in getting the kind of results you expect—a quality roof system at a fair price. All roofing contractors are not alike, and NRCA recommends you prequalify your roofing contractor to get the job done right the first time. The following guidelines will help in your decision:

  • Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax identification number, and, where appropriate, a business license.

  • Don't hesitate to ask the roofing contractor for proof of the insurance he carries. In fact, insist on seeing copies of his liability and workers' compensation insurance certificates. Make sure the coverages run through the duration of the job. Many building and home owners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured roofing contractors. Also, if a contractor is not properly insured, the owner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.

  • Check to see if the roofing contractor is properly licensed or bonded. Some states have specific licensing requirements, and others do not. Your state's Department of Professional Regulation or Licensing Board will have this information.

  • Make sure the contractor is financially stable. A professional roofing contractor can provide current financial information about his company.

  • Look for a company with a proven track record that readily offers client references and a list of completed projects. Call these clients to find out if they were satisfied.

  • Insist on a detailed written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures.

  • Have your contractor list the roofing manufacturers with which his firm has licensed or approved applicator agreements. Most materials require special application expertise to achieve a quality roof system that will last.

  • Have the contractor explain his project supervision and quality-control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge, how many workers will be required, and the estimated time of completion.

  • Check to see if the contractor is a member of any regional or national industry association, such as NRCA.

  • Call your local Better Business Bureau or Department of Professional Regulation to check for possible complaints filed against the contractor.

  • Carefully read and understand any roof warranty offered, and watch for provisions that would void it. (See NRCA's Consumer Advisory Bulletin Roofing Warranties for detailed information about this subject.)

  • Choose a company committed to the safety and education of its workers. Ask the contractor what kind of safety training he provides for his workers and what industry education programs they have attended. The best roofing contractor is only as good as the workers who actually install the roof system.

  • Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors seem attractive with their below-cost bids but often are uninsured and perform substandard work. Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a roofing contractor. Professionalism and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily in your decision.


SEVEN COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q. How can I know when a roof system has problems?

A. All too often, roof system problems are discovered after leaking or other serious damage occurs. Periodic (twice-a-year) inspections often can uncover cracked, warped or missing shingles; loose seams and deteriorated flashings; excessive surface granules accumulating in the gutters or downspouts; and other visible signs of roof problems. Indoors, look for cracked paint, discolored plasterboard, and peeling wallpaper as signs of damaged roof areas.

What are my options if I decide to reroof?

A. You have two basic options: You can choose a complete replacement of the roof system, involving a tear-off of the old roof, or a re-cover over the existing roof, involving only the installation of a new membrane and surfacing. If you've already had one re-cover over your original roof, check with a professional roofing contractor to see if your deck can support a second re-cover.

My roof leaks. Do I need to have it totally replaced?

A. Not necessarily. Leaking can result because some flashings have come loose or a section of the roof system has been damaged. A roof system failure, however, generally is irreversible and results from improper installation or choice of materials or from the installation of a roof system inappropriate for the building.

Can't I just do the work myself?

A. Most work should not be do-it-yourself. Professional roofing contractors are trained to safely and efficiently repair or replace a roof system. Novices can harm a roof with improper roofing techniques and severely injure themselves by falling off or even through a roof in need of repair or replacement.

Can't I just do the work myself?

A. Most work should not be do-it-yourself. Professional roofing contractors are trained to safely and efficiently repair or replace a roof system. Novices can harm a roof with improper roofing techniques and severely injure themselves by falling off or even through a roof in need of repair or replacement.

Home owner maintenance should be confined to roof system inspections in the fall and spring to check for cracked or curling shingles and to cleaning rain gutters filled with dead leaves and other debris. If you must see the roof for yourself, use a firmly braced or tied-off ladder equipped with rubber safety feet. Wear rubber-soled shoes and stay on the ladder (and off the roof), if possible.

How long can I expect my roof system to last?

A. The condition and lifespan of your roof system will depend on the type of roof system you have, the effects of your local environment, and the maintenance the roof system has received. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, asphalt shingles generally last 15 to 20 years; wood shingle/shakes, 10 to 40 years; clay/concrete tiles, 20+ years; slate, 30 to 100 years; and metal roofing, 15 to 40+ years.

. Roofing product manufacturers offer a variety of warranties on their products. Take a close look at those warranties to see what responsibilities and financial obligations they will assume if their products fail to reach their expected lifetimes.

What will a new roof system cost

A. The price of a new roof system varies widely, depending on the material selected, the contractor doing the work, the home itself, location of the home or building, local labor rates, time of year, and more. To get a good idea of the cost for your roof system, get three or four estimates from reputable contractors in your area. Keep in mind that cost is only one factor, and it must be balanced with the quality of the materials and workmanship.

For each roofing material, there are different grades - and corresponding prices. Plus, there are a variety of styles and shapes. You need to look at the full product range and make a choice based on your budget and needs.

Within the roofing profession, there are different levels of expertise and craftsmanship. Pick a contractor who is committed to quality work.

How can I determine my annual cost?

A. When mulling over your roofing options, the following formula may help:

Total Cost (materials and labor) ÷ Life Expectancy of Roof (in years) = Annual Cost


WORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Deck/sheathing: The surface-usually plywood or oriented-strand board (OSB)-to which roofing materials are applied.

Dormer A small structure projecting from a sloped roof, usually with a window.

Drip edge: An L-shaped strip (usually metal) installed along the edges of the roof to allow water runoff to drip clear of the deck, eaves, and siding.

Eave: The horizontal lower edge of a sloped roof.

Fascia: A flat board, band, or face located at the outer edge of the cornice.

Felt/underlayment: A sheet of asphalt-saturated material used as a secondary layer of protection for the roof deck.

Fire rating: UL system for classifying the fire resistance of various materials. Roofing materials are rated "Class A," "B," or "C," with "A" materials having the highest resistance to fire originating outside the structure.

Flashing: Sheet metal used to prevent the seepage of water around any intersection or projection in a roof, such as vent pipes, chimneys, valleys, and the joints at vertical walls.

Louvers: Slatted devices installed in the gable or soffit (the underside of the eaves) to ventilate the space below the roof deck and equalize air temperature and moisture.

Oriented-strand board (OSB): Roof deck panels (4 feet x 8 feet) made of narrow bits of wood, laid down lengthwise and crosswise in layers, held together with a resin "glue." Often used as a substitute for plywood sheets.

Penetrations: Vents, pipes, stacks, chimneys - anything that sticks up through the roof deck.

Rafters: The supporting framing to which the roof deck is attached.

Rake: The inclined edge of a roof over a wall.

Ridge: The top edge of two intersecting, sloping roof surfaces.

Sheathing: The boards or sheet materials that are fastened to the roof's rafters to cover the house.

Slope: Measured by rise in inches for each 12 inches of horizontal run: A roof with a 4-in-12 slope rises 4 inches for every foot.

Square: The common measurement for roof area is 100 square feet (10 feet x 10 feet).

Truss: The engineered components that have supplemented rafters in many newer houses. They are designed for specific applications and cannot be cut or altered in any way.

Valley: The angle formed at the intersection of two sloping roof surfaces.

Vapor Retarder: A material designed to restrict the passage of water vapor through a roof system or wall.


NRCA PUBLICATIONS

The NRCA Consumer Advisory Bulletin Roofing Warranties discusses the importance of selecting a roof system based on the product's qualities and suitability, in addition to the warranty.

The NRCA Asphalt Shingle Manual presents guidelines for asphalt shingle roofing. It covers application techniques, construction details, general requirements, and precautions.

The NRCA Steep Roofing Manual presents guidelines on steep-slope roofing, including asphalt shingles, wood shakes and shingles, slate, clay, and concrete tile. It covers application techniques, construction details, general requirements, and precautions.

The NRCA Residential Steep-Slope Roofing Materials Guide is a comprehensive, 130-page report about residential steep product types, including asphalt shingles, fiber-cement roof components, metal roof components, clay tile, concrete tile, slate, and synthetic roof components. It contains detailed descriptions, comparative data, manufacturer-reported wind and fire ratings, and code approvals.

To purchase any of these documents, visit NRCA's publications and audiovisuals section or contact Rhonda Burleigh at 800.323.9545 (847.299.9070 outside the United States and Canda), fax 847.299.1183 or e-mail papostolos@nrca.net.
Problems with Condensation in the Attic can be a Roofing Contractor's Nightmare
Problems with Condensation in the Attic can be a Roofing Contractor's Nightmare

by Jim Schiller, Schiller Roofing. Reprinted from Western Roofing magazine, March/April 1996.

Problems with Condensation in the Attic can be a Roofing Contractor's Nightmare

I doubt if there is a roofer in the country who has not come up against a condensation condition. The first thing he knows is when he gets a call from a customer complaining about "His" leaking roof. These calls are usually accompanied by some reference to some friend or relative who's a lawyer and "Do you guarantee your work?". My customer called a few days ago with a complaint that the new cedar shake roof that I installed on his bathroom addition was leaking. I don't take these calls lightly, and as a matter of fact it upsets my ego to even think that I had made a mistake bad enough to cause a leak in a brand new roof. I made an appointment to be at the owners house at 9:30 the next morning and was fully prepared to remedy the trouble whatever the cause. Sure enough he was right. There was water dripping through a ceiling fan in his new bathroom and it was raining outside. It looked like a roof leak and I was embarrassed.

I climbed the ladder and carefully examined every square inch of the area. Everything looked okay. My side laps were correct. There were no split shakes and no exposed nails. No sign of anything that might cause a leak. Nothing!

Next step the attic. After emptying my pockets of anything that might fall out, I crawled some 70' through the trusses and 12" insulation being careful to step on the ceiling joists to get to the area in question. Whoa!! There was water all right, lots of it. Water dripping off the entire under surface of the roof and running down the aluminum flex pipe and into the ceiling fan. Everything was wet, even the gable end wall. Luckily I had a customer who was willing to follow me into the attic so he could see for himself, but he was entirely in the dark about how the water got there. This was a classic case of condensation and I was again amazed ar.

This house had all the "No no's" and was a perfect candidate for a severe case of condensation. I've seen hundreds of them in my 42 years as a roofer and have been blamed for many roof leaks that never were.

In 1956 I was probably the first contractor in Oregon to ever install a polyethylene vapor barrier under a house. I didn't know much about it then. I only knew that it worked. Windows stopped sweating, paint stopped pealing, toilet bowls quit dripping, mildew dried up in the closets and fuel bills went down. Later studies proved that a really effective job needed both attic ventilation and foundation ventilation along with the vapor barrier.

I've been thrown out of more houses than most people have even been in trying to inform people about condensation but 40 years of effort has produced very little understanding of the subject. Even building inspectors don't fully understand, they just enforce the code that says they have to use a vapor barrier and install so much ventilation per square foot. I've mellowed a bit through the years and changed my tactics. Instead of talking about humidity and vapor transmission rates and "R" factors and air convection and dew point, I just tell them "Don't try to understand it, just do three things: install a good polyethylene plastic cover on the ground under your house; open your foundation vents and leave them open; and add more attic ventilation.

The whole point of this is for all roofers to beware, be informed, study it, understand it, learn it, know it, suspect it. Be ready to defend yourself with gut knowledge on the subject of condensation because chances are you are going to be blamed for a roof leak that really isn't, and possibly end up in court.

The following paragraphs are a simplified condensed treatment on the subject of condensation plus a few helpful hints for the roofer who is willing to do something about it.

Forty years of agonizing over the subject of condensation inside a building, whether it's a factory or just a bathroom has produced a vast amount of information coupled with hundreds of case histories. Trying to find a common denominator and in some way simplify the subject has been a lifelong endeavor.

Everything from a simple sweating window to an entire hospital's flat roof with blisters the size of row boats to entire rafters in an attic rotted to the point that the roof caved in, have shown ample evidence of condensation. Mildew in closets, dry rotted foundations, peeling paint, high fuel bills, hot stagnant upstairs bedrooms in the summer and cold clammy rooms and damp smelly air are other symptoms of condensation.

Condensation has no respect for winter or summer. Even though most problems occur during the winter heating season. There are times when a vaulted ceiling in a home will drip water during 80( temperatures in August. Daily changes in outdoor temperatures and relative humidity also have varying effects on indoor condensation there by producing day-to-day variations. Now that we've identified the problem lets get down to the cure. Find the source of the moisture. It can be anything from an indoor swimming pool to a flooded basement. But most often just bare ground in the crawl space under house. Such bare ground may look dry and innocent on the surface but will produce as much as 20 gallons of water vapor per 1,000 square feet within a single day. Water vapor is what happens to any water when it evaporates and becomes part of the air. The most effective and inexpensive method of stopping this evaporation is to install a .006 mil sheet of polyethylene onto the entire ground surface. Such a ground cover should be complete and cover every square inch possible. Seven inch gutter spikes. with pieces of roofing material fashioned into large thumb tacks are a cheap and effective way to pin it down. If there's water standing it must be ditched and drained away or install an automatic sump pump after ditching to a low spot.

Proper ventilation in the foundation. Most houses have adequate foundation vents but most of them have been closed off for one reason or another, mainly on the false belief that they're saving heat by closing them. They should be left open year around with the exception that when temperatures get cold enough to freeze water pipes under the house, and even then leave them partially open, especially in the outside corners. Properly functioning foundation vents are the natural intake openings for fresh air into a house.

The attic. If there is an attic, F.H.A has a rule of thumb for attic ventilation. One square foot open for each 300 square feet of basic floor space. Second story floors don't count, only the first floor. Half of affix ventilation is for intake vents in the soffits and half for exhaust vents in the roof or gable ends. A vaulted or cathedral ceiling must have a continuous ridge vent and continuous soffit vents on both sides because each set of rafters create a separate dead air space. Manufactured homes have a special problem in that they usually have two attics separated at the marriage line so both must be ventilated.

Stand back and admire your work. The long term benefits come in the form of comfort and a healthier indoor environment besides saving the house from deteriorating dry rot and other damage.
Guidelines for Selecting a Commercial (Low-Slope) Roofing Contractor
Guidelines for Selecting a Commercial (Low-Slope) Roofing Contractor
Mirrored from the National Roofing Contractors Association

Guidelines for Selecting a Commercial
(Low-Slope) Roofing Contractor

Buying a new roof system is an important investment. Before you spend your money, spend some time learning how to evaluate the roofing contractor who may be doing the work. Roofing contractors are not all alike; insist on working with a professional.

Why a professional roofing contractor? A professional generally is recognized as a person who has hands-on experience, specialized knowledge and received intensive training.

So how can you tell a qualified contractor from an unqualified one? There are no foolproof methods, but there are some important things that you can do to help make the best possible decision.

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends that you prequalify contractors. It may require some extra work, but experience shows that it goes a long way toward making sure you get the kind of results you expect--a roof system that works!

You can prequalify contractors on a project-to-project or annual basis if you regularly deal with the same group of contractors. Your criteria may vary according to the job requirements, but all professional roofing contractors should be able to provide you with the following:

A PERMANENT PLACE OF BUSINESS
"Confirm that your contractor is well-established with a permanent address, telephone number, tax identification number and, where required, a business license. A professional has these readily available. "

KNOWLEDGE OF ROOF SYSTEMS
"The introduction of new roofing materials and application techniques has sparked a tremendous change in the roofing industry over the past 10 years. A professional roofing contractor is familiar with the different types of roof systems and will help you make the best decision for your building and budget. Be sure you are comfortable with the roof system(s) your contractor suggests. "

NSURED AND COMMITTED TO SAFETY
"Don't hesitate to ask the roofing contractor for proof of insurance. In fact, insist on seeing copies of insurance certificates that verify workers' compensation and general liability coverages. Make sure the coverages are in effect through the duration of your job. If a contractor is not properly insured, you, the owner, may be liable for accidents that occur on the property. Many building owners and homeowners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured roofing contractors. "

LICENSED AND BONDED
"Many states require that roofing contractors be licensed; some states have specific licensing requirements. In addition, some contractors are able to obtain bonding from surety companies, while others are not. Check to see if a prospective roofing contractor is properly licensed and/or bonded. Your state's department of professional regulation or licensing board will have this information. "

FINANCIAL STABILITY
"A professional contractor will be able to supply you with current financial information. This should include: current assets, net fixed assets, current liabilities, other liabilities and references from a financial institution or auditing firm "

APPLICATION EXPERTISE
"Have your contractor list the roofing manufacturers with which his firm has licensed or approved applicator agreements. Some materials require special application expertise to provide a quality roof system that will last. "

INSIST ON A WRITTEN PROPOSAL
"Insist on a written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications. Be sure the proposal includes the approximate starting and completion dates, payment procedures, and any additional issues such as landscape damage prevention and debris cleanup. "

WARRANTIES
"There are two basic categories of roofing warranties: the contractor's warranty, which covers workmanship, and the manufacturer's warranty, which covers (as a minimum) materials. Be sure that your contractor offers a warranty that covers workmanship. A manufacturer's warranty alone will not protect you if the roof is improperly installed. Carefully read and understand any roofing warranty offered and watch for provisions that would void it. "

COMPLETED PROJECTS
"Look for a company with a proven track record that readily offers client references and a list of completed projects. "

REFERENCES
"When making the final selection, ask the roofing contractor for a list of recent clients. Check with these customers to see if they were completely satisfied with the quality of materials and workmanship provided. You also may contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if they have received any customer complaints about the contractor. "

PROVISIONS FOR ON-SITE SUPERVISION
"Have the contractor explain his project supervision and quality control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge, how many workers will be required and the estimated time of completion. "

A PROFESSIONAL MAINTENANCE PROGRAM
"Professional roofing contractors will offer periodic maintenance inspections throughout the year. These inspections will help ensure that your project complies with the standards specified in the warranty. A maintenance program usually consists of a detailed visual examination of the roof system, flashing, insulation and related components to identify any potential trouble areas. "

It pays to prequalify roofing contractors. Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors seem attractive with their below-cost bids, but often are uninsured and perform substandard work. Remember, price is only one criterion for selecting a roofing contractor. Professionalism and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily on your decision.
Guidelines for Selecting a Residential (Steep-Slope) Roofing Contractor
Guidelines for Selecting a Residential (Steep-Slope) Roofing Contractor
Mirrored from the National Roofing Contractors Association

Buying a new roof system is an important investment. Before you spend your money, spend some time learning how to evaluate the roofing contractor who may be doing the work. You should insist on working with a professional roofing contractor. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) wants to assist you in getting the kind of results you expect -- a quality roof system at a fair price.

All roofing contractors are not alike, and NRCA recommends that you prequalify roofing contractors to get the job done right the first time. The following guidelines will help in your decision:

  • Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax I.D. number, and where required, a business license.
  • Insist on seeing copies of the contractor's liability insurance coverage and workers' compensation certificates. Make sure the coverages are in effect through the duration of the job.
  • Look for a company with a proven track record that readily offers client references and a list of completed projects. Call these clients to find out whether they were satisfied.
  • Check to see whether the contractor is properly licensed or bonded. Call your state's licensing board for your state's specific requirements (where applicable).
  • Insist on a written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures.
  • Check to see if the contractor is a member of any regional or national industry associations, such as NRCA.
  • Call your local Better Business Bureau to check for any complaints that have been filed.
  • Have the contractor explain his project supervision and quality control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge, how many workers will be required and the estimated time of completion.
  • Carefully read and understand any roofing warranty offered and watch for provisions that would void it. Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, price is only one criterion for selecting a roofing contractor. Professionalism and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily on your decision.
Consumer Advisory Bulletin - Maintenance: The Key to Long-Term Roof System Performance
Consumer Advisory Bulletin - Maintenance: The Key to Long-Term Roof System Performance
Mirrored from the National Roofing Contractors Association

Consumer Advisory Bulletin
Maintenance: The Key to Long-Term

Maintenance: Roof System Performance

Roofing professionals generally agree that a good roof system requires proper design, quality materials and quality application to perform successfully. Yet once the roof system is installed, nothing is more critical to its long-term performance than establishing a program of regular inspections and proper maintenance.

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) believes that the most effective way to achieve long-term roof system performance is for the building owner to have a formal, long-term relationship with a professional roofing contractor. A professional roofing contractor:

  • Understands local building practices.
  • Understands different roof systems and can make recommendations concerning which type of system is best for a particular building.
  • Has a trained and experienced workforce.
  • Can respond quickly should a problem arise.
  • Is well established in the community, so the owner understands with whom he is dealing.
  • Works in, and gives back to, his local community.
  • Understands the local business environment and knows how to complete the work.

NRCA has expressed concerns regarding the long-term warranties offered by many roofing material manufacturers because warranties do not necessarily provide assurance of satisfactory roof system performance. Warranties often contain provisions that significantly limit the warrantor's liability and the consumer's remedies in the event that problems develop or damage occurs to the roof system.

Instead, NRCA believes that the best way for a building owner to ensure satisfactory post-installation roof system performance is to have a formal, long-term maintenance agreement with a professional roofing contractor. Maintenance programs typically offer the following advantages:

  • A maintenance program is proactive (rather than reactive). It can help to identify problems at their early stages, while they can be corrected and before they become catastrophes.
  • Regular maintenance can reveal and address sources and causes of leaks before they occur. Too many owners have their roof systems examined only after a leak occurs.
  • A maintenance program allows for a planned, organized approach to management of a roof asset and allows for responsible, timely preparation of long-term capital expenditures.
  • Response time to address leakage problems is greatly improved. Warranty repairs, on the other hand, can take time to be processed, while the problem remains unresolved.

Building owners should take care in selecting a roofing contractor to perform the maintenance work. Additional information is available from NRCA, or from an NRCA-member roofing contractor in your area.
Notice to Owner
Notice to Owner

Effective January 1, 1993, Assembly Bill 2736 repealed and added Section 7018.5 to the Business and Professions Code. This section requires that each contractor, or a subcontractor acting as a contractor licensed under this chapter, prior to entering into a contract with an owner for work specified as home improvement construction pursuant to Section 7159, give a copy of the following "Notice to Owner" to the owner or their agent.

Notice to Owner

Under the California Mechanics' Lien Law, any contractor, subcontractor, laborer, supplier, or other person or entity who helps to improve your property, but is not paid for his or her work or supplies, has a right to place a lien on your home, land, or property where the work was performed and to sue you in court to obtain payment. This means that after a court hearing, your home, land, and property could be sold by a court officer and the proceeds of the sale used to satisfy what you owe. This can happen even if you have paid your contractor in full, if the contractor's subcontractors, laborers, or suppliers remain unpaid. To preserve their rights to file a claim or lien against your property, certain claimants such as subcontractors or material suppliers are each required to provide you with a document called a "Preliminary Notice." Contractors and laborers who contract with owners directly do not have to provide such notice since you are aware of their existence as an owner. A preliminary notice is not a lien against your property. Its purpose is to notify you of persons or entities that may have a right to file a lien against your property if they are not paid. In order to perfect their lien rights, a contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or laborer must file a mechanic's lien with the county recorder which then becomes a recorded lien against your property. Generally, the maximum time allowed for filing a mechanics' lien against your property is 90 days after substantial completion of your project.

TO INSURE EXTRA PROTECTION FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR PROPERTY, YOU MAY WISH TO TAKE ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING STEPS:

  • Require that your contractor supply you with a payment and performance bond (not a license bond), which provides that the bonding company will either complete the project or pay damages up to amount of the bond. This payment and performance bond as well as a copy of the construction contract should be filed with the county recorder for your further protection. The payment and performance bond will usually cost from 1 to 5 percent of the contract amount depending on the contractor's bonding ability. If a contractor cannot obtain such bonding, it may indicate his or her financial incapacity.
  • Require that payments be made directly to subcontractors and material suppliers through a joint control. Funding services may be available, for a fee, in your area that will establish voucher or others means of payment to your contractor. These services may also provide you with lien waivers and other forms of protection. Any joint control agreement should include the addendum approved by their registrar.
  • Issue joint checks for payment, made out to both your contractor and subcontractors or material suppliers involved in the project. The joint checks should be made payable to the persons or entities which send preliminary notices to you. Those persons or entities have indicated that they may have lien rights on your property, therefore you need to protect yourself. This will help to insure that all person due payment are actually paid.
  • Upon making payment on any completed phase of the project, and before making any further payments, require your contractor to provide you with unconditional "Waiver and Release" forms signed by each material supplier, subcontractor, and laborer involved in that portion of the work for which payment was made. The statutory lien release are set forth in exact language in Section 3262 of the Civil Code. Most stationary stores will sell the "Waiver and Release" forms if your contractor does not have them. The material suppliers, subcontractors, and laborers that you obtain releases from are those persons or entities who have filed preliminary notices with you. If you are not certain of the material suppliers, subcontractors, and laborers working on your project, you may obtain list from your contractor. On projects involving improvement to a single-family residence or a duplex owned by the individuals, the person signing these releases lose the right to file a mechanics' lien claim against your property. I other types of construction, this protection may still be important, but may not be as complete.
  • To protect yourself under this option you must be certain that all material suppliers, subcontractors and laborers have signed the "Wavier and Release" form. If a mechanics' lien has been filed against your property, it can only be voluntarily released by a recorded "Release of Mechanics' Lien" signed by the person or entity that filed the mechanics' lien against your property unless the lawsuit to enforce the lien was not timely filed. You should not make any final payments until any and all such liens are removed. You should consult an attorney if a lien is filed against your property.
Consumer Advisory Bulletin - Roofing Warranties
Consumer Advisory Bulletin - Roofing Warranties

Consumer Advisory Bulletin

Roofing Warranties
State-of-the-art roof systems installed today are the result of a century of research and innovation. The relatively recent introduction of numerous systems using rubbers, plastics, modified asphalts and other synthetic materials caused manufacturers to focus attention on warranties they offer. In addition, some employ long-term warranties as marketing tools. In the interest of roofing consumers, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) acknowledges the following concerns relative to manufacturers' roofing warranties.

A roofing warranty's length should not be the primary criterion in the selection of a roofing product or roof system because the warranty does not necessarily provide assurance of satisfactory roof system performance. The selection of a roof system application should be based on the product's qualities and suitability for the prospective project. A long-term warranty may be of little value to a consumer if the roof system does not perform satisfactorily and leaks. Conversely, if a roof system is designed, constructed and manufactured well, the expense of purchasing a warranty may not be necessary.

Manufacturers who use long-term warranties as marketing tools have have found themselves compelled to meet or exceed warranties of competitive manufacturers. In some cases, the length of the warranty may have been established without appropriate technical research or documentation of in-place field performance.

Increased liability risk associated with long-term warranties has contributed to the recent demise of some manufacturers. This may result in unanticipated and costly expenses for extensive roof system repairs for roofing consumers. Unfortunately, there are a number of manufacturers that issued long-term warranties and no longer are operating companies with the capability of honoring their warranty commitments, leaving consumers with an ineffective warranty and serious roofing problems.

There is a common misconception by roofing consumers that long-term warranties are all-inclusive insurance policies designed to cover virtually any roofing problem, regardless of the cause or circumstance. Roofing warranties typically do not warrant that the roof system will not leak or is suitable for the project where it is installed. Even the most comprehensive manufacturer warranties that cover materials and workmanship generally provide only that the manufacturer will repair leaks that result from specific causes specified in the warranty. A material-only warranty typically provides only that the manufacturer will provide replacement material.

Warranty documents often contain restrictive provisions that significantly limit the warrantor's liability and consumer's remedies in the event that problems develop. The warranty document may also contain other restrictions and limitations, such as a prohibition against assignment or transfer of the warranty, exclusion of damages resulting from a defective roof system and monetary limitations.

Long-term warranties largely are reactive (rather than proactive) solutions to roof problems. In general, they tend to undermine a prudent owner's initial concern for proper roofing specifications and application, as well as an owner's subsequent responsibility for periodic roof maintenance.

The roofing consumer is best served by manufacturers who:
  • Focus their sales efforts primarily on the relevant and proven merits of those products and systems best designed to serve the specific needs of a roofing consumer.
  • Base warranties for membranes or systems solely upon an honest and realistic appraisal of their proven service lives, contingent upon the financial ability and good faith of the issuer to honor those warranties for the duration of the warranty term.
  • Clearly and conspicuously state in writing all recommended and required owner maintenance responsibilities during the projected service life of the roof and warranty term.
  • Solicit from a roofing consumer a clear understanding of the consumer's primary responsibility to provide periodic routine maintenance during the service life of the roof membrane or system.

NRCA believes that roofing consumers, with the assistance of roofing professionals, should focus their purchase decisions primarily on objective and comparative analyses of proven roof system options that best serve their specific roofing requirements and not on warranty time frames.

NRCA further advises roofing consumers to consult the membrane warranty section of NRCA's Roofing Materials Guide for a comparative analysis of the specific provisions, remedies, limitations and exclusions of the warranties of those roof systems under consideration. All questions should be addressed to the respective roofing manufacturers for specific written clarification.

Water Soluble Residue from Asphalt Products
Water Soluble Residue from Asphalt Products

Mirrored from the National Roofing Contractors Association

Reprinted from APOC
Water Soluble Residue from Asphalt Products

The residue, sometimes referred to as tobacco juice because of its color, is a normal result of the weathering of all asphalt based products, including plastic cements, coatings, shingles, base and cap sheet regardless of manufacturer. It has been happening for many years and intensive research has failed to find any ingredient or procedure that would eliminate the phenomenon, Fortunately, it requires a certain combination of weather conditions - intensive sun exposure, excessive night moisture, and prolonged lack of rain - and even then it does not usually reoccur after the first rainy season.

As most roofers have noticed, conditions this summer have been unusually bad. A heavy dew or fog dissolves the dry residue and causes it to accumulate in puddles on flat roofs, trickle down and stain a wall not protected by gutters or diverters, or discolor a light color shingle roof. The accumulation on flat roofs prevents a proper bond of coatings and must be hosed and/or scrubbed clean before coating. Extended residue accumulation can have a deteriorating effect on most roof surfaces if not occasionally hosed off. It certainly can cause aluminum and white acrylic coatings to peel. Although the residue formation cannot be prevented, the following steps can be taken to eliminate or minimize the unsightly runoff:

  • Gutters and downspouts on low side roof perimeters.
  • If parapet wall tops slope outward, are rounded, or have no raised lip on the outside edge, coping metal should be required.
  • Hosing down residential or other small roofs at regular intervals during long dry periods of the first summer.
  • Coating with solvent type fibered aluminum, over asphalt emulsion as soon as thoroughly dry, over plastic cement and other solvent vehicle asphalts after curing at least thirty days.
 
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