Whether you’re considering slate with copper flashing or something a little more modest, a new roof is a major investment that typically costs thousands of dollars.

The materials themselves represent a relatively small portion of the bill. The bulk of what you’ll spend goes for the skilled labor involved. And that makes choosing an experienced pro the best way to protect your investment and ensure a leakproof job.

Simple, right?

Unfortunately, roofing is an easy-entry business that requires little more than a pickup, a ladder and some basic tools to get started.

How to Find a Qualify Roofer

Roofer on ladder nailing shingles on roof

Search the web for “Roofing” only if you can’t get a recommendation from a neighbor, a friend or someone at your local lumberyard or home builder’s association.

Gather at least two prospects, and make sure each has been in business at least five years — roofers who do shoddy work usually don’t last that long.

Start your prospect check with availability. There’s no reason to waste time if they’re booked until next year. Get names and addresses of references, and drop any contractor who balks at providing them.

Then do a drive-by inspection of a few recent jobs. Check that the spaces between individual shingle tabs, known as water gaps, line up laser-straight as they alternate shingle rows.
Make sure that shingles are trimmed in a clean line along the valleys where they overlap the valley flashing.
On roof ends, shingles should also be neatly trimmed so they align with the roof edge. Ragged lines mean slipshod work. Also look for neat, tar-free flashing at roof valleys and eaves.

If the roofs stand up to scrutiny, call references directly and ask them the following questions:

  • Would you use this roofer again?
  • Did the roof leak? If so, did the roofer respond promptly, was he courteous and did he charge you for any additional work?
  • Did the job come in on budget? If not, by how much did he exceed budget? Were the extra charges justified?
  • Did the roofer damage any bushes or flowers, and did he leave nails in the driveway? Flat tires are a common complaint during and after a roofing project. Good roofers pick up any dropped nails with large rolling magnets throughout the job.
  • Was a designated foreman available to address your concerns during both the tear-off and installation of the new roof? (These jobs are sometimes done by different crews.) You want a point person for questions and concerns you have throughout the job.

When a roofer comes by to look over your job and work up a price, note his appearance. Pride extends beyond the job site. If he isn’t clean enough to sit at your breakfast table, do you really want him working on your house?
Then detail the full range of your expectations. Find out who will do the work and the foreman’s name. And get everything in writing.

New cedar shake roof




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