Low Bids – Caveat Emptor!

The one thing we’ve noticed at our company is the surprising number of calls we receive calls from homeowners whom are desperate to repair or replace roofs that are too new to normally require emergency service.

Apparently, when obtaining bids for their roof replacements, many of the homeowners had opted to proceed with the lowest bidders.  While there isn’t anything wrong with hiring a cheap contractor, there is a risk that the installer may sacrifice quality in order to keep costs low.  We’ve received reports from homeowners that once their roofs began to fail, they had found that not only were they unable reach their contractors (because the company closed at the end of the busy season), which meant that their warranties on their new roofs were suddenly no longer executable, and they faced significant repair (or even full re-roofing) costs to undo the sub-par work.

So before moving ahead with a low bid, we recommend researching the company to ensure that they are legitimate (see our previous blog post on this topic, “A Few Important Things You Should Know When Comparing Quotes”) and selecting a contractor with a long operating history.  It goes without saying that cheap work is the most expensive of all.

The home improvement industry is highly competitive with many contractors to choose from.  Apart from the bottom line, here are a few things to pay attention to:

  • Due Diligence – There are a few things roofers are required to have in order to operate: a contractor’s license, bond, and insurance. Licenses can be checked on the Contractor’s State License Board (https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/onlineservices/CheckLicenseII/checklicense.aspx).  As for bond and insurance, don’t hesitate to request from any potential roofers for a copy of their insurance certificate, which will provide you with information pertaining to the validity of their insurance and their insurance provider information.
  • Warranty – One of the ways a contractor can stand out from the rest is by offering a competitive warranty. Typically, the industry standard in the Bay Area is 5 years warranty for workmanship, but we have heard of instances where a homeowner was offered anywhere from a 15 to 25 year warranty.  Don’t be fooled – such extended warranties are risky, and far too often, are offered by inexperienced contractors who cannot weather the challenges of running a company long enough to honor their warranty.
  • Deposit – California law requires that contractors accept no more than $1,000 or 10% of the estimated cost (whichever is less) as a deposit on a roofing project. If your contractor requests more than the maximum, be sure to bring this to the contractor’s attention and considering hiring someone else.

Keeping these tips in mind when comparing offers will help you choose a qualified roofer, as well as sparing you the problems and expense that arise when basing your hiring decision solely on the lowest bid.

The four most common reasons for a roof leak are pretty straightforward and are oftentimes, with proper annual maintenance and care, preventable.  The most common causes are:

  1.  Aged Roof Coverings — Sometimes roofs leak because they’re old — plain and simple.  With time, all roofs will wear out, particularly asphalt-based roofs.  If your flat roof is over 15 years old, or your pitched roof is over 25 years old, call a roofing contractor for an inspection to find out if it is in need of immediate repair or replacement.
  2. Clogged Gutters and Downspout Pipes – Rain and wind cause leaves and other debris to collect in the gutters and downspout pipes of homes, and without regular yearly clearing, the detritus may cause a serious blockage. Hire a roofing contractor, plumber, or handyman to service your gutters and downspout pipes prior to the arrival of the rainy season, as well as before any oncoming heavy storms, to ensure that your roof will remain watertight.
  3. Corrosion of Flashings and Metal Roof Accessories – Over time, the metal parts on your roof (flashing, pipe collars, copings, etc.) will corrode, especially if fabricated out of galvanized sheet metal. It is an obvious problem to spot – just look for evidence of rust, and fixing the problem will usually involve a pretty uncomplicated replacement.  Pro tip: Always opt for a premium metal, like stainless steel or copper, instead of galvanized metal, when purchasing a new roof and/or flashing – you’ll have the peace of mind to know that your metal roof accessories will last for a generation or longer.
  4. Weakened Skylight Glass Seals – With changes in air temperature and moisture, the caulking used to seal skylight glass panels can weaken in as short amount of time as a two to three years post-installation, putting you at risk of a leak. Before the rainy season begins (or better yet, during spring and summer’s slow season), hire your roofing contractor to check your skylight glass panels and, if necessary, re-seal them.

And as always, don’t wait to spring a leak before you have your roof checked.  Call a roofing contractor today!

One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when renovating is not having a roof checked prior to getting the work started.

If your roof is less than five years old, it should be too early to worry about any roof failures or corrosion, but keep in mind that with every passing year, it is worth keeping an eye out for corroded roof metals (flashings) or separations of the roof layers.  And don’t forget to clean out your gutters and downspout pipes annually.

Renovations are expensive, and the rainy season isn’t over yet, so don’t waste hard-earned money and lose any home improvement work to something as avoidable as a leaky roof!

We often get callers who are unsure of what information to have ready when they decide to contact us.  A few questions that your contractor will likely ask you:

  1. How old is your roof?
  2. Do you have a flat roof or a pitched roof?
  3. Are you currently experiencing a leak or other problems?
  4. Are you considering having your roof repaired, or would you prefer to have it replaced?
  5. How tall is your building (in stories)?
  6. Will a ladder be needed to access your roof?

If you have difficulty answering any of the above, feel free to speak with a representative.  Otherwise, with the answers to these questions in hand, you should be able to schedule an estimate appointment with ease and confidence.

If you’re in the market for a new roof and are looking for a long-term, high-performing option, look no further than a metal roof.  There are a number of different types of metal roofs and materials to choose from, so here’s a bit of information to get things started:

  • Metals – There are a variety of metals that are appropriate for metal roofs:
    • Galvanized – Pros: Low-cost, available in different finishes. Cons: May be prone to corrosion for buildings located in areas with frequent exposure to precipitation/marine conditions.
    • Aluminum – Pros: Low-cost, available in different colors. Cons:  Aluminum is a softer metal, and may not be strong enough to resist damage in areas with high-winds, strong storms, wooded areas.  Aluminum is difficult to solder, which may increase overall installation costs.
    • Zinc – Pros: Available in a variety of colors, finishes. High strength. Good corrosion resistance. May add curb appeal to your building.  Cons: More expensive than galvanized, aluminum.
  • Copper – Pros: Available in a variety of finishes. Good corrosion resistance. May add curb appeal to your building. Neutral: Over time, and with exposure to air/moisture, copper will patina.  Cons: More expensive than galvanized, aluminum.
  • Roof Types – Metal roofs can be assembled in a few different methods:
    • Standing seam – These are long panels formed on-site and cut to measure prior to installation. They are designed to lock together with help of cleats, and are the simplest option for installing a metal roof. Standing seam roofs are common in Europe, and are increasingly popular here in the US.
    • Shingles – Metal shingles are great for curvilinear roofs or for more decorative tastes. From fish-scale to harlequin, there are a variety of pre-formed shapes and sizes.  Custom-designing your own style is also a possibility.
    • Corrugated – Pre-fabricated, corrugated metal roofs are a great way to cover shed roofs on a budget.

 

There are numerous other options available as well, so don’t hesitate to ask your contractor about the best solution for you and your home.

leaky roof

Don’t get caught in the rain like this poor fellow!

Here are some tips to help you prepare for what meteorologists are calling the largest El Nino in the past 50 years:
  • Have your roof estimated during the dry season – Don’t wait until your house springs a leak in the middle of a winter storm to have your roof looked at by a professional. Winter is typically the busiest time of year for roofers, so should you experience a leak during this time, there’s a possibility that a contractor may not be available to perform the necessary work for days, weeks, or even months.   If you have a flat roof that is older than 10 years, or a pitched roof older than 25, we suggest having it checked now, and every 5 years thereafter.  Have your roof looked at immediately if you see any obvious signs of damage or wear (missing tiles/shingles, cracks on surface, visible rust on metal roofing components).
  • Clear your gutters and downspout pipes – A common source for roof leaks is a clogged gutter or downspout pipe. The function of gutters and downspout pipes is to collect and control the flow of rainwater run-off.  When leaves and other debris aren’t regularly removed, they can gather and obstruct the flow of water, causing it to overflow.  Should this happen, there is little a roof can do to prevent water from breaching into the building’s interior.  Luckily, this is relatively easy to fix and just requires the help of a roofer, plumber, or handyman to clear the obstruction.
  • Trim overhanging tree branches – A roof damage can occur when wind-driven debris come crashing onto your roof. This can be minimized by having any overhanging tree branches trimmed before they break.
  • Check your windows – Often, the source of a leak is misidentified as coming from the roof, when it is actually coming from a failed window seal. A window leak coming from an upper level in a home can snake its way through the ceiling of the floor below. Be sure to check the seams of your window and look for signs of corrosion before this happens and contact your window contractor to ensure that your windows continue to be stormproof.
  • Lastly, have it coated – If you have a flat roof that isn’t exactly new but appears to be in acceptable shape, consider having it coated. A liquid-applied waterproof coating can significantly extend the life and integrity of your roof. A finished, coated roof not only adds additional waterproofing protection, but is also U.V. reflecting, which means a cooler house and lower energy costs in the summertime.  Your roof is already coated, keep in mind that it is highly recommended to retouch the coating every three to five years.
This year’s El Nino is predicted to be a strong one, so consider having necessary maintenance done on your roof prior to its arrival!

Fall is just around the corner, so here’s what you should do to keep your flat roof in good shape.

With summer’s long warm days, homeowners often allay their concerns about any existing problems with their roofs until the arrival of fall.  Instead of waiting, we recommend to make most of what remains of the current seasonable weather and take a moment to inspect your roof.

To start, plan for either the morning or late afternoon, when the roof is cooler and the risk of damaging your roof’s surface is minimal.  Bring a camera with you to document any problems or concerns you may encounter during your inspection.

Take a look all around and make sure that there isn’t any obvious signs of damage, cracks, or seam separations to the main roof membrane.  Carefully check the edges of the roof, particularly the metal trim around the roof perimeter (called “flashing”) for signs of corrosion, separation from the roof membrane, and storm damage. Check all roof accessories, like chimneys and vent pipes, making sure they are sealed properly, fastened securely, and aren’t suffering from heavy corrosion.  As for gutters and downspout pipes, clear away any debris, remove any obstructions, check for damage/corrosion/separations, and ensure that they all hardware are properly fastened in place.

If you see anything worrying, take a photo and call a roofing professional for their opinion.  Consider having your roof coated (or re-coated) with a U.V. protectant to shield it from the elements.  If your roof requires maintenance, repair, or replacement, don’t wait — have it done while the good weather lasts!


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