What should you be aware of when hiring a roofer? PLENTY!
Spending my entire career as a construction consultant and providing insurance adjusters and defense attorneys with professional technical assistance with claims has indeed provided me with a wealth of knowledge. At least in the areas of construction.
One specific area of construction that at some time in your life you will have to deal with is Roofing. As you know my business is primarily determining causation and identifying failures. Of the many thousands of claims we have worked over the past 16 years, many of them have been roofing claims. I feel comfortable in stating there is not a roof problem we have not seen dozens of times. Roofing contractors are not clever, but are some deceitful? Yes. Are some greedy? Yes. The issues roofers have caused 40 years ago are the same issues today. So how do you, the homeowner, minimize or eliminate these redundant issues? I am going to list what I know to be the important things you should be aware of and what you should be doing in order to have your roofer do the right job for you.
1. CONTRACT: Always have a contract between you and the roofer, even if they are a friend or relative.
The following should be stated within the contract:
A. Starting Date and Completion Date: If not a starting date at least have it written that the roofer will work consecutive days until the roof is completely finished. You don’t want your roof stripped the first day only to have the roofer not show up the next day. You must have it in writing that the roofer will remain on the job everyday from start to finish.
B. Protection, Cleanup and Hauling: It is imperative the roofer protect your siding, gutters, shrubs and lawn from debris. Have it stated that the roofer will perform daily cleanup and final cleanup. When the job is complete, the roofer will clean and flush all gutters and rain spouts. In addition he will haul all roof debris away.
C. Materials: The roofing product you choose should be written into the contract: (Make and Model). The contract should state the roofer will provide you with the manufacturer’s specifications before the roof is started.
D. Have it stated in contract the materials will be installed per the manufacturer’s specifications.
E. Insurance: Have the contract state that the roofer is insured, listing his carrier and agent. Require the roofer to provide you with a copy of his insurance certificate.
F. Warranties and Guarantees: The material manufacturer will guarantee their product but not the installation. Make sure the roofer offers an installation guarantee.
G. Substrate or Roof Sheathing Replacement: This is something you need to address once the roof shingle is stripped from the roof. Have the roofer state a price per s.f. for replacing the sheeting due to deterioration – the amount of square feet will be determined after the roof shingle is stripped. You or your named consultant will verify the amount of square feet of sheathing to be replaced.
H. Flashings and Valleys: Have it stated how the roofer flashes all penetrations, chimneys and valleys, naming the product and how it is fastened.
I. Ice and Water Shield: This is a relatively new product within the past few years, and would be in your best interest to consider using it. It will drive the cost up a little bit, but well worth it. Ideally the product should be used at the eaves, ridges and rakes.
J. Install a Ridge Vent and make sure there are some openings in your soffit to allow fresh air to come up through the soffit, travel the length of the rafter and vent through the ridge vent. It allows the roof to breathe. Perforated soffits work well. Make sure the insulation is not gathered at the ends of the rafters at the eave, preventing the air to come up and through.
2. START A FILE:
A. Before the job is started collect all the requested documents:
1.) Copy of contract
2.) Material guarantee from the manufacturer
3.) Insurance Certificate
B. Activity Log:
A daily log of date job is started with a brief description of activity completed each day. Record the daily temperature and precipitation.
3. Designate yourself or choose someone to go up on the roof daily to see exactly what the roofers are doing. You want to verify the length of nails they are using, how many nails they are using to fasten the shingle, and where they are placing the nails on the shingles. The specification document will detail this information and it is crucial that the roofers comply with this instruction.
You also want to verify the amount of sheathing that will be replaced due to deterioration. This will need to be done immediately after the roof is stripped.
Verify the felt paper weight that is being used. The felt comes in a roll and the wrapping will clearly identify the weight. Also make sure the shingle is exactly what you ordered. One last thing, once the roofer begins nailing shingles, measure the exposure and make sure it complies with specification.
Once you have a good solid contract and you have been on top of the roof to physically see that what they are doing complies with the manufacturer’s specifications and the material being used is what you ordered, leave them alone. In a few days they will be finished and cleaned up. Your home is now protected for many years.
I hope some of this information is helpful to you. The areas covered above are worthy of your attention. Our experience investigating and determining numerous roofing failures, I think, should be shared with our clients. Of the hundreds of roof failure claims we have handled, very few of them involved a defective product. The overwhelming majority of roof failures are attributed to the areas mentioned above.
Jaguar Appraisals & Determinations, Inc.
We are here for you should you need us for any professional technical assistance, fire cause and origin, failure analysis, causation investigation and accounting losses of all types.