7 SIGNS YOUR ROOFING CONTRACTOR HAS NO IDEA WHAT HE’S DOING
The roofing skillset requires finely-tuned attention to detail. As anyone with roofing training would know, you need to put each shingle in its proper place with the right fasteners. Before any of this begins, the person you initially speak with must have the contractor skills necessary to accurately evaluate the problem with your current roof and determine the best solution.
With all the complexities that the field entails, the roofing contractor skillset requires a list of certain credentials. If the individual evaluating your roof lacks prior roofing skills or contractor training, you could be in for quite a rip-off. To avoid the seven most common problems with poorly-installed roofs, you need to ask each contractor the seven most important roofing questions.
Seven Signs That Your Roof Has Been Poorly Installed
1. The Roofing Isn’t Uniform
From an aesthetic standpoint, one of the telltale signs of a properly-installed roof is symmetry. The shingles or shakes should be evenly applied and aligned across all the angles of a roof. Furthermore, the shingles or shakes should match, regardless of the design.
On some roofs, however, you can tell with the naked eye that the shingles are not properly applied. It could be a case where the shingles on one side are not evenly aligned to the shingles on the other side. You may also find that certain shingles don’t match with the rest.
Sure, the color of the shingles might differ on a partially-replaced roof, but a brand-new roof — or any roof, for that matter — should never show design or alignment inconsistencies.
2. The Underlayment Is Missing
Nothing lets you know it’s time for a new roof like a leak in your living quarters. When leaks do occur, there is a good chance the underlayment has deteriorated in at least one spot along the roof. Underlayment acts as a protective barrier between the sheathing and the shingles to water out.
However, some homeowners spot leaks just weeks after the installation of a new roof. If a newly-applied roof immediately fails to block out water, chances are good the underlayment has either been poorly-applied or is missing altogether. Underlayment makes all the difference between a roof that lasts for years and a roof that fails instantly.
In fact, a one-year-old roof without underlayment could easily resemble a dilapidated roof installed a half-century ago.
3. Missing Drip Edges
When it comes to the flow and drainage of water off your rooftop, the drip edge is second in importance only to the underlayment. Drip edges are metal sheets that are placed between the shingles and underlayment along the roof edges and extending out above the gutter. When it rains, the drip edges prevent water from lingering on your roof.
If a roofing contractor fails to install drip edges, the problem could quickly become apparent during a rainy season. With no drip edges, rain is liable to creep into the foundations of the roof along the edges and lead to stains and eventually mold and rot. With nothing to guide rain off the roof, the rain could drain improperly and leak into the basement.
4. The Fasteners Are Wrong or Improperly Applied
Though it might seem like a minor detail, the type of fasteners used in a roofing project can make or break the finished roof. Installers need to use a particular type of nail. Furthermore, each nail must be properly spaced. The necessary type of fastener is determined during the pre-inspection when the contractor develops a roofing plan.
If a roof is applied with the wrong type of fasteners, or if the fasteners are unevenly applied, that roof is likely to come apart in certain areas in a matter of months. Due to the consequential nature of fasteners in roofing projects, county and city building codes have specific policies regarding attachment methods.
5. The Roof Is Plagued With Black Stains
If there is one thing that should never appear on a shingled roof that has been in place for under 15 years, it’s the presence of stains. Black stains on a rooftop are a key indicator that water is leaking through the roof. If you see these kinds of stains years shy of a roof’s life expectancy, the roof was likely not installed by skilled hands.
The leaks that cause black stains on a roof can stem from several sources, such as missing underlayment, drip edges or chipped shingles. If you had a new roof installed just months ago and black stains have already appeared after a rainy season, the stains are probably due to a poor installation.
6. Shingles Are Missing on the Roof
When a roof is missing shingles, you can tell that the roof is due for a replacement. When shingles are missing from a recently-installed roof, you know you have a poor roofing job on your hands. Simply put, there is no excuse for missing shingles.
If you come home from work one evening and suddenly notice that a shingle or two is missing from your six-week-old roof, report the matter immediately to the contractor. The installer may have improperly-chosen or poorly-applied the fasteners. Regardless, there is no excuse for shedding shingles on a new roof.
7. Poorly-Installed Piping
The ventilation pipe that extends between your attic and drainage cleanout needs to be the right length to do its job properly. If the plumbing pipe is ill-fitted, it can degrade the quality of insulation within your home. Consequently, you might notice the air inside becoming less comforting with poorly chosen pipes.
If the ventilation pipe gets damaged during installation, it might end up venting vapor and toxins directly into your attic. As this happens, damage could gradually incur along the ceiling and roof deck. Moisture could even end up seeping into the floors below.
Seven Questions to Ask Roofing Contractors
Now that you have a better understanding of what to look out for when it comes to sub-par craftsmanship, here are the most important questions you can ask a contractor to secure peace of mind and top-tier work.
1. What is the legal name of your business?
With so many scammers on the roofing market today, homeowners are getting duped left and right by companies that can easily misrepresent themselves. Many of these roofers advertise on Craigslist and even lesser-moderated online forums. All of these companies are out to take advantage of one thing: homeowners who know little about roofing and therefore don’t know any better — i.e. the average homeowner.
When you ask a roofing contractor for the legal name of his company, never accept any answer that is either hesitant or vague. The contractor should happily reveal the name under which his company is currently licensed. If the company is filed as an LLC but doesn’t include that suffix in advertisements, he should be clear on that as well.
The name and information you gather should all check out when you search for the company with the Better Business Bureau. Furthermore, the contractor should enthusiastically invite you to look up his company on Google to see all the good reviews his company has received from past clients.
2. What level of roofing insurance do you carry?
Insurance requirements vary from state to state, but roofers are required to have liability policies between $500,000 and $1,000,000. If the roofing company is uninsured, you could be stuck with repair bills if the roof workers damage any portion of your house. Likewise, if a roofer gets injured on the job, you could be stuck covering their medical bills if the company lacks proper insurance.
When you ask about a roofing company’s level of insurance, have them give you an exact number. This number should be easy to verify when you look up the company’s licensing info on the official website of your state.
If you phrase the question vaguely and simply ask whether they have insurance, they could easily lie and say “yes,” whereas it’s harder for them to lie about a specific level or dollar amount. Remember, only accept specific and confident answers. If the contractor hesitates, look elsewhere.
3. Who will oversee the installation of my roof?
Generally speaking, the roofing contractor should be onsite at all times to oversee the installation of your roof. If he cannot be present during a particular shift due to other commitments, a designated project manager should be present to supervise the project. Roofing companies that run two or more projects simultaneously should have a project management team.
When you speak to a roofing contractor, simply ask who will be present during every shift to supervise the installation. Do not accept any answer along the lines of, “We don’t use supervisors because our installers are skilled enough as it is without guidance.”
While you should never settle for anything less than the most skilled team of installers, no roofing crew, no matter how skilled, should be sent out on a job without supervision. The roofing trade is too complex to go unsupervised because even the slightest miscalculation could set an entire project off-course.
4. Could you send me an estimate in the mail?
This is a trick question. If the contractor refuses, he passes the test. No legitimate roofing contractor sends estimates in the mail. A legit contractor will hand you the estimate in person after he’s examined your roof and gathered all the necessary information. Only then will he know enough details about your roofing needs to develop an accurate estimate.
When a roofing company does mail an estimate, it’s typically by request from a prospective customer who wants to compare prices, but this is not a savvy tactic. The contractor should respond to your request by saying, “No — I’ll need to inspect your roof and attic first,” or “No, you’ll need to decide on your preferred material so we can work that into the estimate.”
5. How much will the roofing cost per square foot?
When you ask this question, the contractor should not simply throw out a figure. Instead, the contractor should collect enough information to determine the cost from a holistic perspective.
Various factors influence the price of a roof, such as the size and design of the roof, the style of shingles, the type of wood, the number of pre-existing layers, the condition of the decking and the age of the house. No accurate price can rest on just one variable. Other factors could set that figure way off.
Some contractors give a small price that fails to take into account various details of a given roof. When the extra costs become apparent, the company cuts corners to honor the initial price. In worst-case scenarios, the company will have already gone under by the time the customer tries to file a warranty claim.
As a rule of thumb, any contractor who offers a one-track price, as opposed to a holistic price, is likely uneducated.
6. Could I get a layover rather than a full roof replacement?
This is another trick question that is designed to test the ethics of a roofing company. While any company could technically apply a new layer of shingles directly over a current dilapidated set, this isn’t a sensible practice for various reasons.
Consider the reasons why your roof needs a replacement. Are the shingles worn due to age, water, mold, or moss growth? With problems like those, you need the current roofing removed and replaced. If you simply cover up the aged roof, the existing problems will still fester underneath and hasten the deterioration of your new shingles.
Another factor to consider is the weight of shingles, which average 350 pounds per square 100 feet. When you multiply the total number of squares, this second layer of shingles could amount to an extra 6,000 pounds on top of your house. If you live in an area that’s prone to snowy winters, the buildup could sink your 12,000-pound, double-layer roof.
Given all the inherent problems with layovers, no ethical roofing contractor will simply agree to install a layover — unless that contractor happens to be out for a quick profit. Instead, the contractor should tell you about the dangers of layovers and suggest instead that you opt for an entirely new roof.
7. Does the roof estimator need to inspect my attic?
In recent years, roofing estimates have become a more complex process that now involves attic inspections. The reason for this is simple: You cannot make an accurate estimate based on observations of the exterior roof alone.
Even if the decay is obvious from the outside due to mold, moss or lichen, contractors can more accurately determine your needs by examining your roof both internally and externally. Anything less thorough could result in numerous surprise charges as the project commences.
If you don’t have an attic, it’s still important for exterior contractor teams to inspect the ceilings in your living quarters for signs of moisture stains, cracks and other possible forms of roof decay. In any case, never trust a contractor who responds by saying, “No, all we’ll need to see is the exterior.”
The Exterior Company, Inc. Is the Most Trusted Name in PA Roofing
In the counties of York and Lancaster in Pennsylvania, homeowners turn to The Exterior Company for all of their roofing needs. Our thoroughly-trained, licensed and code-compliant team has earned the loyalty of residents throughout the areas we serve by offering superior roofing, siding and gutter work. Contact TEC for a free estimate for your next roofing project