When it comes to roof repairs and replacements, there can be a steep learning curve, especially if you're unprepared. So before you call a contractor, familiarize yourself with some common questions and their potential answers.
1. If my roof is leaking, should I replace the entire system?
Not knowing where the leak is or being unable to stop it brings fear into the hearts and minds of many homeowners. It’s hard to hold back visions of large chunks of the roof collapsing. However, in most cases—depending on the size of the roof and the home's location—a leak should not warrant an entire roof replacement.
2. Is a contractor even necessary? Can’t I handle it myself?
Unfortunately, roofing and general home improvement contractors do not have the best reputation among homeowners, but that doesn't mean you should handle the work yourself.
A good contractor should be able to make a convincing (and earnest) argument for why their services are necessary, even amongst homeowners who have some repair work under their belt. Before you attempt to fix the problem yourself, consider the following:
You may seriously damage your roof.
You may have replaced a few shingles and cleared some gutters in your time, but performing a lasting repair is a different thing altogether. A few improper nails can cause lifted shingles, ripples, and even more leaks. What’s worse, you may injure yourself or create a situation for a roof collapse.
You might be breaking the law.
As strange as it may sound, many local jurisdictions prohibit homeowners from performing roof work themselves without a license.
You could void a manufacturer’s warranty.
Improper repairs and installations often result in a roof replacement. But generally, if a homeowner performed the repair or installation, manufacturers won’t cover it because it wasn’t done by a licensed roofing professional.
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3. Can a new roof be installed over my existing shingles?
Homeowners considering this question typically have two reasons for doing so: They are hoping to save on project costs by reducing the workload, or they are cautious and don’t want to deal with another contractor shortly down the road.
Let’s examine some common considerations to find the best option...
Shingles must be installed as flat as possible to be effective.
If there are sections of your current roof with lifted or curling shingles, a reroof is highly inadvisable.
Shingles are heavy and add significant weight.
Before you choose to do a reroof, consider that every 100 square feet of roofing material will add 350 - 450 pounds of weight. Have your house inspected to be sure it is structurally sound enough to handle the additional weight of a reroof.
Tear-offs allow for a thorough inspection of the underlayment and decking.
Every roof leak has the potential to be a major problem, and some are harder to diagnose than others. Choosing to tear off the existing roof will allow you to get a close look at everything going on beneath the roof system and creates a fresh start prone to fewer problems.
Reroofing can create problems come selling time.
If you’re planning on selling your home in the near future, a reroof without a tear-off is inadvisable. Home inspectors will report it to any interested buyers, as a reroof is never quite as sound as starting anew.
4. How much will it cost?
Material differences greatly affect project costs, as does the steepness of the roof and where you are located.
Be sure to see a full list of expected project costs so there are no unpleasant surprises at the end of the job.
Contractors who are transparent, easy to speak with, and professional are the ones you want to trust with a roofing project.