7 Things I Learned During Our New Roof Project

We recently completed our new roofing project.  Before I started the process, I knew very little about roofing and what to expect.  Thanks to a great roofer that we selected, I learned a lot of things about roofing that I thought I would pass along.

FYI, the roofing company that we used was Bob Schmidt Roofing in Metamora, MI. If you’re based in the Detroit area, Bob is the best way to go.  I would recommend him to anybody!

  1. Builders put on cheap roofs – Our house is 14 years old and this was definitely going to be the last season for our roof. When we moved into the house in 2007, one of the valleys was already bad.  Last year, we started getting noticeable curling and deterioration, and even had shingles start blowing off during windstorms.  Bob sees this all the time, and now that I look for it, I even see the cheap roofs going on brand new construction, so things have not improved in this regard.
  2. Builders save very little by doing so – I asked Bob what the difference probably was back when the roof was installed, in terms of the cost to the builder, between the cheap roof that was installed and one that would have lasted longer.  He said that the builder probably saved $200 and that a better roof would probably have lasted 5-10 years longer.  This astounded me.  But, if you think about it, $200 times however many houses a builder builds adds up, and if homeowners don’t want to pay for an upgrade, they’ll continue to get away with offering the cheapest roof possible.  It still drives me nuts to think that a roof that would have lasted longer essentially could have cost $40 per year ($200 for five extra years).
  3. Color is important – After we decided to go with Bob, he spent some time working with us to select a color.  He started pointing out roofs that had bad color matches to the house, and now it’s much more obvious when you see a roof that doesn’t match a house.  We picked a color that matched our old roof, but with the architectural shingle style and some color highlights, it continues to match our house while giving it a modern look.
  4. Tearing off is the only way to go – If you have one layer of shingles, you’ll get an option to add a second layer of shingles.  This is a terrible option, and if you do, you will probably only save a few hundred dollars, but will likely cut the life span of your ‘new’ roof by up to 50%.  The only circumstance in which this would make sense would be if you were planning on selling the house soon in which case you wouldn’t care about the lifespan of the roof.  Be careful, though, because knowledgeable buyers might see this is a reason to avoid buying your home, figuring you cut corners.   Which leads me to…
  5. Educated customers are the best kind – I previously shared the story about a roofing company that refused my potential business, refusing to even bid on my roof, basically because I asked too many questions.  Bob was the complete opposite.  He spent time explaining everything to us, and was available throughout the life of the project with any questions.  In fact, I e-mailed, phoned, and texted him probably 50 times with various questions, and he answered every single one promptly and graciously.
  6. Ventilation is key – When we narrowed our choices down, the thing that ultimately put Bob as our roofer was that he addressed attic ventilation as part of his bid.  In talking with neighbors, others had expressed concern that there were not enough vents drawing air into the attic.  Bob’s quote called this out without me even bringing it up, as his price included adding ten more vents, doubling the current capacity.  He said that this would extend the life of our roof, and also indicated that this would likely make the second floor of our house much cooler.  When he said this, my wife and I both looked at each other, as the second floor has always been an oven on any sunny day over 70 degrees.  Bob said that would be fixed, and early results (we’ve had a few days 75+ with full sun) show that Bob was right, as the second floor is much more comfortable.  I’m confident that this will carry to the summer months, and this will be huge, as we’ve run the air conditioner at a much lower temperature than I’d prefer simply to keep the second floor from baking.
  7. Don’t pay for the wrong numbers – There is a company that does a lot of work in our neighborhood that is much bigger.  They have multiple crews with crew sizes over triple what Bob offers.  They did a roof down the street in half a day, where Bob took two and a half days for ours.  They were assuredly cheaper.  But, Bob pointed out a row of shingles that started on one end and tailed off about halfway across the roof, as the shingles weren’t even installed straight.  He pointed out at least ten shingles that were already missing, probably having gotten stuck in the package, yet the roofer installed them anyways.  He pointed out how the roofers damaged their siding.  He pointed out how his guys vacuum out the gutters and blow off the roof with a leaf blower, which then allows any nails to fall and get picked up by the large magnet that they sweep.  The other roofer leaves it all up there, meaning they’ll find nails over their property for weeks to come.  Buying a roof is important, he pointed out, but if you want to simply buy a number (low price, lowest time) then you’re likely focusing on the wrong number.   Even though Bob came in higher, the quality of materials and workmanship gave me a much better value than I know the people down the street received.

All in all, I was very happy with our roofing project.  It was a pain for the week or so between when the shingles were delivered and when everything finally wrapped up (on top of the three days they took to install, we had days with complete downpour that delayed the start of the job).  But, I kept things in perspective, knowing that this one week would give us a roof that we can enjoy and that will last for years decades to come.  Thanks, Bob, for a great job!