From The Home Service Store

For AP Weekly Features

As far as Brad Bishop is concerned, there’s a relatively simple way to improve the condition of American roofs.

As head of Rembrandt Remodeling, a 70-person roofing firm in Atlanta, Bishop routinely sees his share of roofing problems. He says it all boils down to one thing – customer education. “Homeowners think all there is to a new roof is the low bidder slapping on shingles so the roof doesn’t leak,” says Bishop, who is a trade affiliate of the Home Service Store. “People think a roof is a roof is a roof but there’s a lot homeowners simply don’t take into account.”

His short list of homeowner considerations includes fixation on low price, lack of knowledge of shingle options and installation, and poor communication with contractors.

“When homeowners ask for bids, they need to specify several key points,” says Bishop. If they don’t, the contractor may use lesser quality contractor grade shingles and avoid long-lasting installation techniques. According to Bishop, homeowners should insist on at least 25-year shingles that are algae-resistant.

He points to architectural grade shingles as a relatively new but worthwhile shingle that carries up to a 40-year warranty. “These heavy new shingles look like a cedar shake and can add to the value of a home because a roof does have a lot of curb appeal to buyers.”

Homeowners should also nail down potential contractors about installation practices. Bishop says good contractors will strip the roof to bare plywood and replace rotting timbers or plywood. Avoid contractors who lay new shingles over existing shingles, a practice called cover overs. If old shingles are warped or damaged, the wavy or curled pattern will show through the new shingles.

Although weather is a factor, poor ventilation beneath the roof is the major culprit in roof deterioration. Heat and trapped moisture are largely to blame. Most contractors who bid on price alone won’t install the necessary fans or vents to alleviate the problem. Ventilation should be a routine part of the bid process.

Other installation must-dos include new layers of felt below the new shingles, layers of storm guard in valleys that funnel water to gutters, metal flashing around chimneys, exposed pipe, and walls and nailing rather than stapling shingles to the surface. Bishop estimates 80 percent of contractors won’t install drip guard above the gutters at the edge of the roof to stop water from seeping into the roof substructure.

Bishop’s firm takes at least two hours to present all the shingle and installation options to homeowners. “People wouldn’t think of buying a new car without getting a full presentation, and the same should apply to a $7,000 to $10,000 roof. It’s a good use of time,” says Bishop.

Most roofing jobs should take approximately three working days. Architectural shingles often add one day or more to installation. This is due to the added weight of the high-grade shingles, which can be difficult to lift and handle. Architectural shingles are also generally applied to steep roofs. Thus, walking on a steep pitch with heavy shingles is a tougher chore, thereby extending the installation time.

“The homeowner and the contractor really need to communicate on quality of shingle and installation,” says Bishop. “The homeowner needs to know when the contractor will be there, and the contractor needs to know the customer’s needs, too. Price is important, but it’s not the only way to judge the quality of the job.”

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