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Roofs, Roofers, Roofing - It's All Over My Head
Old 10-07-2010, 05:41 PM   #1
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Roofs, Roofers, Roofing - It's All Over My Head

We have a 20-year-old, 2-story house, with a 2-car garage and an asphalt shingle roof (aluminum soffits, wooden gutters) with a 20 year guarantee. Yes, the guarantee expired this year!! We are noticing signs of leakage in the garage and an upstairs bedroom. There was also a bit of ice damming during last winter's very severe snow period, which left some water patterns along the edge of one ceiling in one room.

Now we plan to interview at least 3 roofing companies about a) what they think needs to be done (fix or replace?) and what a replacement would cost. We will also ask for references, which I will check. What kinds of questions should we ask? What kinds of things should we be aware of and beware of? What might be (in your opinion) fair pricing for the work?

(I've mentioned in another thread, an outfit called Power Windows and Doors - they insisted they also do roofs -- that gave husband an estimate of $58K to replace the roof with one with a "lifetime guarantee." Husband said no thanks).

The house is basically a box, 1,500 square feet per floor, with an attached box of a garage - so, 2 simple pitched roofs. No skylights. There are no nearby trees to clog up the gutters with leaves. (If I can supply any other information that would help you give advice about the roof, please let me know).

Thanks,

Amethyst
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:48 PM   #2
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If your roof is 20 years old, I'd say replace.

Around here, 1500 sq/ft of new asphalt roof would be closer to $5K than $58K. All 3 estimates should be similar, I'd be wary if one is much higher or lower. That said, I haven't priced a roof in many years. Ask for references, business license & proof of insurance. You might think of upgrading your attic ventilation. Re-roofing is the time.
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:52 PM   #3
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It looks like our house is pretty similar to yours, basically a 2-story box, 1,250 sq.ft. per floor with an attached box of a 2-car garage. So two simple pitched roofs, no skylights. We picked asphalt shingles with a 20 year guarantee.

Estimates: from $6,000 to $12,000. We ended up paying around $11,000 3 years ago IIRC (including $1,000 for gutterguard installation).
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:03 PM   #4
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If your roof is 20 years old, it needs to be replaced. There's a reason for the warranty, they have the life time figured out pretty tight.

When you get a new roof, they can cover the old one. If they can do that it should be a little cheaper. If the one you have is already a roof-over, they'll need to do a tear off, which is what it sounds like. A little more expensive, but no big deal. Unless, of course, they have to replace the wood under the roof. Even then, there's no possibility of it coming in a $58K. It's just not that big a job.

As I said in the other thread, call Shiner Roofing for a quote. They did a good job for us. I can't guarantee they'll be the cheapest, but they seemed honest. They'll at least put you in the ballpark of a reasonable cost.

Ask neighbors and friends for suggestions for quotes. Get 3 or 5 or so. A new roof really isn't a big deal, shouldn't take more than a day or so for a small job like yours.

Edit: After rereading the OP, I just wanted to add that the leaking you are seeing probably has to do with the flashing around things like chimneys and vents. Have then check that and make sure they'll be re-doing it. If the water is actually coming through the shingles, that would indicate the wotd under the shingles is rotting. But I would bet it's the flashing.

Since your house is 20 years old, you'll probably be doing a roof-over. Don't let them do a tear off if there's only one layer of shingles, unless they go in the attic and see rotted wood. And there's no reason to let them sell you any upgraded shingles, longer life or whatever. Even if you are still there in 20 years, it will just be another regular house maintenance job.

I'm a little amazed. My brother and I used to sit around drinking beers and he'd tell me about his work. I must have been listening better than I thought!
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:15 PM   #5
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Make sure your installer is certified by the roofing material manufacturer because the guarantee is from the roofing material manufacturer.

When selecting roofing for our daughter's home we visited a major supplier and talked to the supplier's employees. Not only did we ask about the products but we also asked about the manufacturer's warranty customer service and financial strength. Asking the supplier about the current condition of the industry elicited interesting comments. They can also provide leads to roofers.

Oh, don't pay the roofer until the job is complete. If they ask for an advance for materials make one check out to the supplier (banks don't like joint checks today) once the material is on-site in the amount of the supplier's invoice. Make sure you hold back enough to in-cent the roofer to finish the job and clean up.

Read the roofer's contract, don't pay a deposit (see above).

Another thought from observing a couple siding/roofing projects in our area: flashing is very important. You may not have a fireplace or sky lights but you will have roof vents. Specifiy top quality else they will go bad (crack from the sun) before the roof does.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:05 PM   #6
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Adding to what has been said, roofs seldom leak due to the shingles being worn out unless they are missing or badly curled. The immediate leaks are most likely caused by flashing that has come loose.

If you have an ice damming problem, you should have the attic ventilation improved when the roof is replaced and if doing a total tear off, have an ice dam underlayment on the lower 3 to 4 feet of the roof. This seals the shingle nails so that water pooling at the bottom won't leak into the house.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:08 PM   #7
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I'm not sure where you live. You mentioned possibility of damage due to ice damming. Make sure your existing roof either has a 3 or 4-foot wide underlayment (ice shield) UNDER the last few rows of shingles on your roof (in other words, those shingles just above the gutters.) If not, I'd insist on a complete tear-off and making sure that the ice dam material is installed, along with replacing any wood that may have been damaged as a result of water/ice intrusion, before any new shingles are installed

Grace Roofing Underlayments - Premium Protection from Ice Dams and Wind Driven Rain has some good info.

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Old 10-07-2010, 07:38 PM   #8
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My parents house had a 10-15 degree pitch and a boom was needed to replace the roof and all the sheathing. This costs $7500 about 10 years ago (maybe double that today), I doubt 58k is a legitimate quote unless he was giving you a cement tile or copper roof.

I would consider the ice shield mentioned above, but also look into your attic insulation and adding/increasing the eave vents with one of these two: a ridge vent or power roof vent, but not both. Most homes don't have enough attic insulation and/or ventilation, this causes snow to melt and ice up between the heating and cooling cycles in the winter.
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:48 PM   #9
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If you're seeing water stains on the ceiling, then how's the attic insulation? It's a lot easier to replace (soaked/moldy) insulation when the roof sheathing is off. You can also check the sheathing/trusses/soffits for rot and more leakage. Maybe you want to consider doing upgrades like more electrical outlets or a ceiling fixture or, if applicable, overhauling fans or A/C systems that are installed in the attic. All of that is a lot easier when the sheathing's been ripped off.

Do your aluminum soffits have "bird holes" with screens stapled over them? This is a great opportunity to put aluminum vents over them (if they're not already), or at least to replace the screens. Otherwise the squirrels, bees, & birds will eventually help themselves. Same with the gable vents if they're not easily accessed from the attic.

If you have a bathroom exhaust fan in the attic then check that the exhaust duct is insulated and tightly sealed to the roof. Uninsulated ducts exhausting from a warm/moist bathroom can cause a lot of condensation in the attic (and its insulation), and they're an entry point for rain/snow.

Does your electric utility connection have a drop point mounted above the roof? Might be worth checking that it's not rusted or loose.

Any chimneys that need cleaning, tucking, new crickets, new rain/critter shields, or other repairs? TV antennae?

How hot do your ceilings get during summer? Around here homes are using ridge vents or solar-powered exhaust fans. If you have anything stored in the attic then those airflow systems will help stabilize the summer temperatures. (Of course they're no help during winter.) Another roof option might be reflective foil & foam insulation (integrated into the underside of the sheathing) and reflective asphalt shingles.

Have you considered a Solatube light from the roof through the attic into one of the rooms? Skylights?

Do you want to install solar water heating or a photovoltaic array? If you have freezing temps then your solar water system would be a drainback or an antifreeze loop, but if you're using gas or cheap electric heating then the payback might get awful lengthy. OTOH you'd have hot showers even if the power went out.

Finally, you could consider a standing-seam aluminum roof or, if permitted by local codes, a shake roof. They're more expensive but with proper maintenance they'll last 40-50 years.

Hopefully this won't happen to you, but don't let the roofers re-use the old pieces of angle flashing against the walls. It's tempting and it certainly improves their profit margains, but you want all new flashing. If they cheat with the old flashing then water will eventually find the old nail holes and leak under the sheathing into the attic, which is a cast-iron bitch to figure out. I don't want to get into how I learned that.

Wood gutters?!? Oy. After the roofers are done, what about aluminum?
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:51 PM   #10
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Where I live, the roofer needs to get a permit for a tear-off, but not for a re-roof (that sounds like something a cartoon dog would say ). You might check on that before you talk to the roofers to see if they know about it.
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:52 AM   #11
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I have this plan to move before a home I am living in requires maintenance of any major kind I sold my larger, older home going on 7 years ago and bought this newly built place. So far, so good...no problems here with anything knock wood. By the time I need a new roof in 13 years or so, I will be retired and moved on to someplace else. Hopefully the real estate market will have recovered by then.
I recall that we put a new asphalt shingle roof on our previous large home about 12 years ago and it cost something like $8,000 then. I don't think they tore off the old roof. In addition, about 8 years ago, we put those leaf guard gutters on the house and it was pricey but I don't recall the figure.
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:00 AM   #12
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Evidently depends a lot on where you live. We reroofed about 4-5 years ago. Our house is a 2270sqft two-story box so roof is about the same size as an 1100sqft single story plus two car garage. We went with better shingles, 50 year guarantee (yes I know that's unlikely), as the cost wasn't that much higher and we don't want to reroof any more often than needed. We used a very reputable local roofer and it cost us $4000, and their work was excellent (even went around with a metal detector to make sure they didn't leave a bunch of nails in the yard). There were lower offers, but those folks were not insured so we passed, I am not going to pay medical for someone falling 16 feet off my roof.

Good luck...
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:01 AM   #13
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Shingle quantity is measured in "squares", which are 100 square feet. We are in the process of planning to re-roof our house (google Certainteed class action suit) and have had a couple roofers do estimates. One walked the roof with a tape measure and estimated 50 squares ($13,000) while another estimated 70 squares by walking around the house and estimated 70 squares ($30,000). It might be worth asking the estimators how many squares they are planning on.
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:42 AM   #14
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Shingle quantity is measured in "squares", which are 100 square feet. We are in the process of planning to re-roof our house (google Certainteed class action suit) and have had a couple roofers do estimates. One walked the roof with a tape measure and estimated 50 squares ($13,000) while another estimated 70 squares by walking around the house and estimated 70 squares ($30,000). It might be worth asking the estimators how many squares they are planning on.
This is not rocket science. If they can't even accurately estimate the square footage, I'd pass.
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:50 AM   #15
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Shingle quantity is measured in "squares", which are 100 square feet. We are in the process of planning to re-roof our house (google Certainteed class action suit) and have had a couple roofers do estimates. One walked the roof with a tape measure and estimated 50 squares ($13,000) while another estimated 70 squares by walking around the house and estimated 70 squares ($30,000). It might be worth asking the estimators how many squares they are planning on.
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This is not rocket science. If they can't even accurately estimate the square footage, I'd pass.
Also, I wonder why those extra 20 squares cost $17K while the original 50 only cost $13K? Also, a 5000 - 7000 sq foot roof? That's some seriously big house.
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:30 AM   #16
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Tear-off and new roof last fall cost around $8k for "architectural" shingles. 1650sf house, with fairly steep hip-style roof.
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Old 10-08-2010, 09:06 AM   #17
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Also, I wonder why those extra 20 squares cost $17K while the original 50 only cost $13K?
These quotes came from 2 different contractors...2nd one obviously is charging more per square, period. I'm sure the 2nd one charges a lot more and uses a much larger fudge factor too.
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:23 AM   #18
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These quotes came from 2 different contractors...2nd one obviously is charging more per square, period. I'm sure the 2nd one charges a lot more and uses a much larger fudge factor too.

He also might be needing a new roof himself and is factoring that in his estimate... a few jobs and he has enough....


My BIL was in the roof estimating biz for a few years... he had my roof done on my old house... the funny thing is that at the end of the job we had less than 1/3 of a square left... and I think about 20 ft of flashing...


I know that my current house will need something soon... and I have the very high pitched hip roof... so I know I will be bending over....
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Old 10-08-2010, 01:01 PM   #19
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This is not rocket science. If they can't even accurately estimate the square footage, I'd pass.
It may not be rocket science, but perhaps he's an experienced contractor.

He spent 10 minutes walking around the house (instead of 30 minutes doing measurements & math) and came up with a high number. If the homeowner asked for more info, or at least didn't flinch, then he'd say he was going to write up a detailed estimate. Back in the truck he'd look up the tax records on his iPhone, come up with a better square footage, and copy/past to the blanks on his contractor's app. Amazingly to the homeowner, by "sharpening his pencil" and taking advantage of "contractor's discounts" he'd be able to lower that number substantially. Attach the estimate.pdf to the homeowner's e-mail and get on with the next estimate.

A friend of mine is a finish carpenter, and in the high-rollin' days of 2003-2006 had had far more work than he could handle. It got to the point where he'd eyeball a jobsite, pick a high number, and then add 50%. The owner would usually be nodding in agreement before he finished talking. A few months later he was doubling his estimates and still working 50-60 hour weeks. The savings from those jobs are tiding him over nicely in the current economy.

I think the most important contractor skill is being able to judge whether to spend time on the customer (because they're ready to buy) or whether to move on to a more likely prospect. It's probably an equally important customer skill to figure out whether the contractor really wants your business or is just hoping that you'll agree to his higher price.
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Old 10-08-2010, 01:19 PM   #20
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It may not be rocket science, but perhaps he's an experienced contractor...........
True. I went through this when I was replacing my furnace. The area I live in is a high rent district but I offered up the work to contractors that I knew did a lot of low / medium rent district work. Some tried to highball me to see if I would just pay it. Others put in a good faith effort and one was rewarded with work. I don't think I should pay more because my next door neighbor has a 1 1/2 million dollar house.
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