Finn Turner | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011
Maybe you're selling your house, just bought one, or noticed that the once watertight roof and the peace of mind over your head has sprung a leak. For one reason or another it's time to bite the bullet and hire a roofing contractor.
Things you should know when talking about a new roof
Like any specialized trade, roofing contractors have their own lingo. With a little research you can learn the basics and be better prepared to keep up with the conversation when it comes time to talk about material choices and pricing.
Most likely the first person you will deal with when you are looking to hire a roofing contractor is the company's estimator. Estimating a roof job is part art and part mathematics. Roofers usually talk about squares. A square, in roofing parlance, is ten feet by ten feet, or one hundred square feet. Once the square footage and the number of squares is determined, the next step is to figure out the complexity of the new roof. Are there hips and gables, steep pitches, tough access issues, layers of old shingles that have to be removed? Does the sheathing need to be replaced? All of these factors will influence the final cost.
Typically it takes three bundles of shingles to cover a square, and the cost can range anywhere from $200 to $500 per square, depending on your location. Other common roofing materials are asphalt, tiles, and metal panels; the material choices also depend on where you live and what the most appropriate style of roof is.
Finding the right roofing contractor
Once you have an idea of the scope of the work involved and have made some basic decisions about materials and level of overhaul, the next step is hiring the right roofing contractor.
The best contractor will come recommended either by a neighbor, friend, or reputable source like the Better Business Bureau. To get the process started you can fill out the form on this page to get the contact information of local roofing contractors.
Unless you are absolutely sold on one contractor with great references and experience, then you should get quotes from three different roofing contractor companies.
Before signing a final contract, make sure that the work quoted includes materials, delivery, and installation. Also, make sure that the contractor will haul away all the old debris and shingles removed from your old roof and that completed work is covered by a warranty.
The great thing about roofs, unlike interior home improvement projects, is that you can check out a contractor's previous jobs by driving by other homes they have worked on. If the workmanship looks clean and the roof is intact, you will probably feel a measure of confidence in your decision.