Installing a new roof is a big decision — and a big job. As a homeowner, you want to get the best roof at the best price. As with most home renovations, however, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what steps to take for a successful project. From picking an inexperienced roofing company to installing new shingles over old ones, here are seven roofing mistakes to avoid.
1. Hiring an Unqualified Roofer
Keeping your new roof cost within your budget is important, but if your roofer is dishonest or inexperienced, it will always cost more in the end. An inexperienced roofer can cause all sorts of problems.
They can install tiles improperly, leading to leaks, which can cause extensive damage. Alternately, they can fail to spot damage to the roof while they’re putting it up, leading to ongoing water damage or mold, and the need for future work. They can even cause additional damage while installing the roof if they’re not properly trained.
Dishonest roofers are even worse. When your roofer goes up to inspect your roof, you depend on them to give you an accurate assessment. But some roofers will exaggerate damages to try to inflate contracts. On the other hand, they may do a slapdash job to save time and money — for example, by just nailing new tiles on without removing the old ones, or by not properly assessing and repairing a leak.
Your house is your greatest investment, so you need to be extremely careful. Look at customer reviews, and be sure to thoroughly interview your roofer to make sure they’re right for the job (check out these 10 questions to ask a roof contractor). Additionally, make them earn your trust. If they say there’s extensive damage, ask for photos, and get a second opinion first.
2. Putting off Roof Repair
Roof damage gets worse over time. Old shingles come loose, and loose shingles start to fall off and leak. Left unchecked, this can lead to water damage, which can eventually turn into structural damage for your house. If you go long enough, you can develop leaks in your walls, mold problems and all sorts of other issues that will devastate both your quality of life and your pocketbook. And waiting can have consequences for your insurance as well — a good adjuster will know if your roof has overdue repairs and adjust accordingly.
The good news is that a high-quality roof will last. With premium asphalt shingles, your roof may last for 50 years, and other materials like clay can last even longer. However, that doesn’t mean you can forget about it for 50 years. Seasonal weather, storms and plain bad luck can damage your roof, and the sooner you catch this damage, the better. Annual inspections are ideal, but you should really never go more than a few years without having a qualified roofing professional look at your roof.
When it does come time to replace your roof entirely, a history of good maintenance will help contain your new roof cost. There won’t be major water damage or structural issues to fix, so you’ll be able to stay within your budget.
3. Not Including Roof Removal Costs
Your roofing estimate and your actual cost can vary greatly. There may be unexpected issues like water damage that can affect your new roof cost, or even charges your roofing contractor leaves out of the estimate to make it seem like a better deal than it is.
One charge to look out for is the cost of removing the old roof. It’s not uncommon for roofers to quote a price for the new roof installation, without factoring in the charges for taking off the old tile.
Those roof removal charges can be a significant part of your total cost, and they vary greatly depending on what you’ve already got. Roofers charge labor based on the time commitment and complexity of removing your particular roof. That depends on a lot of things, including the size and layout of your roof, the materials it’s made of, your region and the roofing company.
If your neighbor’s house has a simple, single-story roof and yours has complex architectural features, a steep pitch and multiple layers of shingles, your removal costs are going to be higher. We’ve seen average cost estimates between $100 and $750 per architectural square (100 square feet). There’s also a range of pricing models, including by-the-hour pricing and by shingle, as well as by area.
Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to getting a good deal on roofing. You need to get a few bids, read the fine print and make sure your contractor is including everything — not just the cost of installation.
4. Reroofing Over Old Tiles
Reroofing (laying down a second layer of tiles over your existing roof) is an option for some customers, but it’s rarely the best one. On the surface, it seems like a good deal. Your roofing contractor won’t be tearing off the old shingles, which means the new roof costs are lower. And, assuming your old roof is in reasonable shape, it may do the job for a while. In ideal conditions, your new roof layer can last just as long as if you had torn off the old shingles. Unfortunately, it’s riskier and often costlier in the long run.
First of all, it’s harder to properly inspect the roof with the old shingles on. Your roofer can walk along the roof to check for soft spots that may indicate water damage, but they can’t look directly at the sheathing (the layer beneath the tiles) without removing the tiles first. That means they can miss water damage and other problems.
If your roof tiles are curled or damaged, or your roof is already leaking, going over old tiles is always a bad idea. A new layer won’t fix a leak, because the roofer won’t be able to find and patch the root cause. And with damage, your new tiles won’t sit properly on the roof, which means they won’t protect your home properly either.
And then there’s weight. Tiles are heavy! Your house was designed to support one layer of roofing and then some (so it won’t collapse under snow and ice, for example) but you don’t want to overload it. Two layers of shingles are the maximum for most houses, and they’re the maximum generally allowed by building codes for safety reasons. In some cases, more than one layer is a bad idea.
In the long run, the short-term cost savings of reroofing generally lead to more cost and hassle overall. Spending the extra money for a tear off is worth the confidence of knowing that your roof is watertight, your house is in good shape, and your investment is protected.
5. Hasty or Insufficient Roofing Inspection
A roof isn’t just a layer of flat tiles on top of your house. It’s a complicated, multi-layered system designed to keep out water, year after year, and decade after decade. And water is a persistent enemy. It freezes and thaws repeatedly, slowly prying the pieces apart. It can gradually work its way into cracks in the flushing or gaps between tiles from above, or collect as moisture in your attic below, attacking your roof from both sides.
A good roofer needs to inspect it thoroughly, both inside and out. They need to check your decking, but also get into your attic and look for signs of water damage or inadequate ventilation. And a lot of roofers don’t want to do the work. Time is money, and a free estimate is a cost they may not get a return on. And once they get the job, they might not bother to look at things they can’t fix. For example, they may not check for attic ventilation if they see their job as just laying on a new roof or applying a patch.
This can lead to all kinds of problems. Your roofing contractor may misdiagnose the causes of leaks, leading to ineffective repairs. They may fail to detect attic ventilation issues, shortening the lifespan of your roofs. They might even miss serious issues like sagging decking that could indicate a major problem.
A roofer should be able to explain their inspection routine and quality control in detail, what issues they’re looking for, and how they make sure they don’t miss anything. At Nu Look Home Design, we use a 13-step quality management process, ensuring that we do a proper job, from start to finish every time.
6. Choosing an Unlicensed, Uninsured Roofer
Hiring unlicensed contractors can be tempting to homeowners looking to control new roof costs. According to the Better Business Bureau:
“In most circumstances, unlicensed contractors offer lower quotes because they do not pay a licensing fee, or obtain a bond to protect their work, and in many cases, don’t purchase liability or workers compensation insurance. Without these expenses, the unlicensed contractor can offer a lower rate.
Although a licensed contractor may not do better work than an unlicensed one, the risk of hiring an unlicensed contractor is too great for homeowners.”
There are a number of reasons why unlicensed contractors are risky:
- Competence: To be licensed, roof contractors need to have at least a certain level of skills and experience. Licenses vary a lot by state, but they usually require testing and a background check, along with educational training and/or experience in the trade. Just because someone is licensed doesn’t mean they’re a good contractor, but requiring a license does help weed out flakes and scammers. If a roofer can’t pass the bare minimum requirements for licensure, you really don’t want to trust them with your house.
- Arbitration hearings: If you get into a dispute with your contractor, your state licensing board will offer arbitration hearings. This is a quicker, more cost-effective solution for both parties than going through the courts.
- Property value: If an unlicensed contractor fails to obtain the proper paperwork for your new roof installation, it could harm the value of your home — particularly if the work is not up to code.
- Liability: If your contractor doesn’t have a license, there’s a good chance they don’t have liability insurance either. In effect, that makes you the employer of the contractors. And if one of your employees gets hurt on the job, guess who’s stuck with the bill? And keep in mind, roofing is ranked the 4th most dangerous job in America, with 48.6 fatalities per 100,000 employees — not to mention the high rate of non-fatal injuries. And if your unlicensed contractor isn’t willing to fill out the paperwork, there’s a good chance they’re less than scrupulous about safety. That puts their workers in danger, and exposes you to significant financial risk if a worker is seriously injured.
Additionally, there’s potential risk to third parties as well. If an unlicensed roofer damages your neighbor’s property or drops something on a passerby, you may be responsible for the damages.
7. Choosing the Wrong Materials
Aside from the quality of the work, the tiles you use are the biggest factor in how long your new roof lasts. All tiles will wear out eventually, but high-quality tiles will last decades longer than low quality ones. The material is also a major factor in both new roof cost and lifespan. Higher quality materials may require less servicing, increase your home value and last long enough to offset any additional cost.
To get the best deal, it’s best to choose a contractor who offers high quality tiles in a wide range of materials and styles. You contractor can help you sort through the different options and pick the one that makes the most sense for your budget, investment and life plans.
NuLook Home Design offers roofing materials that are second to none. We’re an Owens Corning™ Platinum Preferred Contractor — an invitation-only elite partnership program offered to only 1% of all roofing contractors. That means we can offer the most advanced, innovative and reliable materials available in the industry, period. That means better value, longer life and lower costs down the road.
Contact Nu Look Home Design For a Free Consultation
Don’t gamble on dodgy contractors, poor materials or sloppy installations. Nu Look Home Design offers high quality roofs that will protect your investment and your budget. Contact us today for a free estimate.