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What every roof estimate/contract should have before starting the project.
It is a big decision to have your roof replaced on your home. Keep in mind not all roofing estimates are the same. Make sure when getting estimates you are getting all the facts. A quality roof estimate should contain the following information.
The estimate should be detailed and specific, itemizing the work to be completed. For example, the estimate should state that the existing roof shingles will be removed and the roof deck inspected for any possible damage. It is at this time when shingles are removed, we can tell that roof boards need to be replaced, and there should be a noted cost to replace wood if needed. It is often impossible to tell if boards need to be replaced prior to removing the existing shingles. All roof boots for plumbing should be noted that they will be replaced. The estimate should be specific as to if step flashing (metal used where one part of the roof intersects a sidewall) will be replaced. What specifically will be done around current masonry chimneys? The estimate needs to be specific.
The estimate should specifically note the number of rolls of Ice and water shield (added protection against leaks in winter). The current building code requirement is that the layer must extend 3 feet past the heated surface of the roof. A roll is 3 feet wide, and because most homes have an overhang, one roll often is not wide enough to meet this code. Covered porches are another area where even 2 rows of ice and water shield might not be enough to meet the building code. The estimate should specifically state how valleys are waterproofed. For example, adding a row of ice and water shield in all valleys for additional leak protection. The drip edge should always be replaced when removing and replacing a roof. This is a metal piece that sits on the edge of your roof and covers the entire perimeter of the roof. Asphalt shingles require an underlayment to also be applied under the shingles, your estimate should specifically state what kind of underlayment will be used. The minimum underlayment that should be used is what is called 15 pound felt (often called tar paper). This is an old material, and there are many synthetic underlayment materials that are currently available, these cost a little more, but give you much better leak protection if it is needed. Now that the roof is covered with ice and water shield or underlayment and the perimeter has a drip edge the estimate should state where starter shingles are and what kind of starter shingles are used. These help the first row of shingles to adhere to the roof and prevent blowing off. Starter shingles should also be installed going up the rake or the angled part of the roof. This will give you protection from wind driven rain entering the roof from the sides. Lastly, the roof is not complete without talking about ventilation. Can vents or ridge vents. Can vents are usually square and sit near the top of the roof. They allow heat and humidity to escape the attic area. A ridge vent is at the peak of the roof and also allows heat and humidity to escape. Can or ridge vents are great products when used in the right application. Each roof is different and should be addressed for each job.
The estimate should include how the sides of your home will be protected from falling shingles. How will windows and doors be protected along with deck surfaces and plants. Will the areas around the house be racked and cleaned? How will nails be picked up? Will tarps be used to help protect and catch falling materials. The estimate should explain how your gutters or gutter guards will be protected during the project.
Because of the increasing cost of materials, it is not uncommon to be asked to pay 50-60% down payment for materials, usually a week before the determined start date. The remainder of the payment is due when the job is completed. In the estimate, it should also be noted how additional costs will be handled. For example, the replacement of roof boards and the cost. It is not out of question to require pictures of damaged areas to show you when the project is complete.
The estimate should specifically be what is covered by the installer for warranty work and how long it will last. Materials related issues are usually handled directly through the shingle manufacturer, and make sure you understand how the warranty process works. Not all shingle warranties are the same. This should be explained in detail prior to signing a contract.
As you can see there is a lot of information in an estimate. Be wary of an estimate that simply states remove the current roof and replace. Materials that go under the shingles are as important as the shingles themselves. The cost of the entire job can often change by hundreds of thousands of dollars just by changing the kind of materials used. Especially in replacing a roof, the cheapest bid is not always the best protection from your home.