I've written a few posts lately about our adventures with choosing a roofing company. The initial process didn't get off to a great start. Our first quote was taken on a whim, as I let someone in who was doing a door-to-door walkaround. I knew I probably wouldn't use them, but was interested to see where a starting point was. He essentially told me it would cost around $13,000 to do our roof and I had to restrain myself from laughing in his face.
We moved on to the roofer that wouldn't actually give us a quote, because he wanted us to outline the specifications.
Then, I started looking at various other sources and we started getting some reasonable quotes.
Here are the factors I used in determining our roofer:
As I said, I didn't just look up companies online, and save for the first company, I didn't just get a bid from someone off the street. I looked at companies that neighbors had used, friends had used, or were recommended by those involved in the construction industry. Our roofer was a referral from someone I've known that works directly in the industry, and who he recommends when customers ask him for referrals.
I started learning as much as I could about shingles after starting the process. I started looking at quality reports of various shingles available at Consumers Reports, and I also did quite a bit of reading online. One thing that I stumbled across that turned out to be a great resource was a forum I found where people in the roofing industry chat with one another, and out of the brands I narrowed down to, the one we chose generally had the most favorable overall tone. For the record, we are going with a CertainTeed shingle.
One of the things my parents mentioned that they did when they had their roof installed several years back was to have all materials outside of the shingle also made by the shingle manufacturer. This would mean that if a claim needed to be filed down the line, the manufacturer couldn't turn to faulty materials made by someone else as an excuse not to honor the warranty. I didn't mention this to the roofers, but I started keeping an eye on it. All materials, save for the actual ridge vents, will be CertainTeed materials.
One of the things I learned is that most roofing companies offer a warranty dependant on the grade of shingles that you use. This warranty can qualify for extensions, less proration, and additional gurantees if the roofing company goes through a certification process. With CertainTeed, they look for things such as length of operation of the business, the fact that roofers have gone through their process, and that they've been checked for adherence to their installation process and have successfully proven that they install the shingles per the manufacturers specifications. Once they have this certification, the warranty is guaranteed. As the owner of our chosen comapny said, “I could install the shingles upside down, and CertainTeed would not be able to deny the claim.” For the record, he's never installed any shingles upside down.
The Fine Print
Some of the warranty extensions require that better materials are used in certain areas, specifically along the bottom edge and along the ridge. Some roofers will attempt to bypass these, but I have in writing that our company will use the materials required. This should lead to a more long lasting roof as well as keep in line with the warranty requirements. Some companies told me in person that they would do this, but did not include that promise in their quote.
One of the things that I've heard is that the builder of our homes did not install proper attic ventilation. This makes sense because in the summer, our upstairs gets very hot, and I've done some testing to show that a lot of heat radiates from the top of the house, more so than other similar houses I've lived in or been in. Our installer noted this and included as part of his quote to add additional ventilation as well as ensure that the existing ventilation is functioning as it should. No other roofer did this. Our roofer also does little things like paint the pipes that come out of the roof, and a few other little touches that I liked.
Once I got the range of pricing that I knew was reasonable for our roof, I started looking at pricing. I didn't go with the lowest price, because they did not use the grade shingle that I wanted, plus they are a gigantic company, meaning that they couldn't offer the warranty upgrades that others did. While many others in our neighborhood used them, I passed. I ended up choosing somewhere that was in the middle range, but considering the additional ventilation upgrades and some of the other touches, it was a good price. He also included a small shingle upgrade for more coloring options.
We need to choose an exact color for our roof. The first thing our guy will do is actually go with us to other houses nearby that have the roofs we are looking for. He said that he would never let us choose a roof based on a brochure or a small sample board. No other company was this diligent about making sure that we ended up with a color that we'd be happy with.
Following that, we have to schedule a date for our install. He indicated that our roof would probably take two days. He said that he uses the same crew for every job, and that while they're not as large as others who can get it done in a day, the fact that he has the same five guys means that he knows exactly what's going on. He also indicated that they will only ‘tear off' what they can get done that day.
Our next door neighbor will likely need a roof soon. They're trying to put it off a year, especially since the main breadwinner works for a company involved in the defense industry, and will be subject to some furlough days. Still, their roof was installed at the same time. Our roofer gave them a quote and indicated that if we both use them and he can do the jobs back to back, we'll each get a 5% discount. This would be a few hundred dollars each. I'm not going to wait on their decision, but this would be a nice little savings if it worked out.
The weather here is still cold and snowy, so I'm not in any hurry to get started until the weather breaks, and based on how things are lining up, we should be able to meet that, as long as April turns out to not be a rainout.
I'm glad that we got the selection process out of the way. Next comes the fun part, having it installed. (And the not so fun part, paying for it!)