In regards to choosing a roofing company, don’t be confused (fooled) by the “Licensed, Bonded and Insured” tag in the yellow pages. This could mean anything. Most often it means they have car insurance, a driver’s license, and no idea what a bond even is.
Call the insurance company and check to make sure the premiums haven’t lapsed and that the dates are correct.
Every house I go to will inevitably ask me about metal roofing, even if I am there because they called about shingles. Everyone is curious about them. They’ve heard how wonderful they are but think they probably can’t afford them.
Metal Roofing, which was once relegated to only coastal towns, has made it’s way into the mainstream. And along with all of the good parts come the bad.
Because so many people are looking at metal roofing there is a market for cheap, screw-through metal panels. To give you an idea of what this is: Take the tin off of a barn, paint it green and screw it down to someone’s home.
They are infecting neighborhoods like a disease. Once it gets onto one house, it starts spreading, like poison ivy, onto others. Homeowners think they are great because it is a metal roof. The roofing company, for good reason, never told them that this type of metal was never meant for residential application and their house now looks like a cheap carport.
To understand the problem with these types of roofing you have to realize that metal moves, much more so than shingles. It expands and contracts daily; it expands when it heats up during the day and contracts as it cools off at night. Then they take the metal, knowing it will expand and contract, and screw it down permanently to a hot plywood deck and guess what happens? That’s right, over time as it moves, it works those screws loose and the rubber or silicone grommets, which are all that is keeping the house dry, start cracking and allowing water to get in.
You see, those types of metal roofs are fine for a metal structure or barn because they have open framing and rafters. You stick that crap on a house with an attic space and heat build up and it is a disaster waiting to happen. Not to mention the fact that you are putting thousands of holes straight through the metal. Common sense tells us that can’t be good.
There are significant, and obvious, differences between cheap, screw-through metal roofing and real metal roofing. I’ll get into the exact differences in my next few posts, but for now just understand that not all metal roofing is created the same.
Just because it is metal does not mean it is good, or even close to good.
I want to encourage people to consider looking at metal roofing, but the right types. You can read my previous posts to see what I mean by right types.
Our inbox has been filling up with people interested in metal roofing. It seems the summer heat and storms are starting to get to people, and they want a roof they won’t have to worry about ever again.
Also, there is a resource out there that is free and invaluable. It is from Classic Metal Roofing Systems and covers everything to you need to know when buying a new metal roof. You can find it here.
This is a perfect tool for anyone considering putting on a new roof. It is very detailed and can answer questions you didn’t even know you had.
Look into it. A lot of your neighbors are doing the same thing.
According to most building codes, you need one square foot of vent area for each 150 square feet of attic floor space. The minimum is one square foot for every 300 square feet of attic floor space if there is a vapor retarder or the space is balanced between the ridge and intake vents. A balanced ventilation system means about 50 percent of the required ventilating area should be provided by exhaust vents in the upper portion of your attic with the remaining 50 percent provided by intake vents.
Ventilation: Exhaust vs. Intake
The above requirements are from Air Vent Inc and are the same as most every roofing ventilation manufacturer and most state building codes. I am in South Carolina, so yours may be a little different. But the main thing is to make sure you not only have a place for air to escape your attic, but also for air to enter. Just like a car engine has intake and exhaust, an attic has to have the same thing. If the air in your attic sits still it will condensate and cause serious damage to the shingles, sheathing, insulation and ceilings. Ventilation works best if there is at least as much room for air to enter the attic as there is for it to leave.
Air exhausts through power fans, dormers, turbines or ridge vent. Air comes in through soffit vents in the overhang of the house. Most homes built in the last 30 years or so, at least here in South Carolina, will have eaves that either have soffit vents or room to add them. On older homes, or bungalow style houses, you may have to put in a vented drip edge or plugs or something. If you aren’t sure what your house has, look out the window and look up. If you see vents then you should be fine; if not, then ask your contractor to evaluate the situation.
Which Type of Exhaust Ventilation is Best
It depends on the house, but I’ll explain what that means:
If you have a "hip" house (and I don't mean groovy) then the ridge of your house does not extend all the way to the edges, it is cut short, and depending on the pitch of the house, it could be extremely short. On this type of house, and any like it, the best option is most likely a power fan, either wired or solar-powered. They come in different strengths and material. They also can come thermostatically and/or humidistatically controlled. As for solar-powered vs. wired, that is for another day. Just understand that with a wired power fan, unless it is also regulated by humidity, it won’t run in the winter when moisture can be a problem. For that reason, some prefer a solar-powered fan –plus it doesn’t take electricity to run it.
But if you have a house like this one on the right, then ridge vent is most likely your best option because there appears to be enough ridge to meet the ventilation requirements from the roofing manufacturer.
I said it appears to be, because you really don’t know for sure until the attic is inspected and it is determined that the house has the ability for ridge vent to be installed. Your roofing contractor, hopefully, will go in the attic and look to make sure. That isn’t something you want them to guess on.
You could also put turbines on this house as well and be fine, but you would need about 8-10+ of them. Air Vent Inc says 42 linear feet of ridge is equal to 5 turbines, so on a house that is 65 feet wide then you’d need about 8. (Remember that 15 roof louvers or 5 turbine vents would be needed to provide the same ventilation as 42 feet of ridge vent on the same house– Air Vent Inc) That would make your house look like a mushroom field.
Many roofers install ridge vent on homes that have no business having it on there, but they, roofers, just assume that ridge vent is a cure-all and don’t have any idea that it isn’t right for the house.
There are formulas that determine exactly how much ventilation is needed and which type of ventilation is best for the house. I’ll post a link to them at the bottom.
Mixing Different Types of Ventilation
But, one of the dumbest things I see roofers do is add ridge vent to a home and leave the turbines or power fans in place. I can only assume they believe you can never have too much ventilation.
Exhaust ventilation –ridge vents, turbines and power fans– pull air from the nearest air source. If there is no other type of exhaust vents on the roof then the ridge vent will pull air in through the soffit vents in the eaves, up the wood and back out the ridge. But if you add a turbine or power fan, it becomes the nearest air source and the ridge vent will merely circulate air at the top; and the bottom 2/3 of the house will be stagnate. It will essentially short circuit the air flow and negate any advantage it could have provided.
Also a power fan, when it is running, will pull air in through the ridge vent.
Calculating the Amount of Ventilation You Need, Both Exhaust and Intake
Air Vent recommends 1 square foot of attic ventilation for every 150 square feet of attic floor space divided evenly between intake vents at the roof’s edge or in the overhang or undereave and exhaust vents at or near the peak of the roof. Here’s what the formula looks like for a 1200 square foot attic space: 1200 divided by 150 = 8 square feet of attic ventilation. Then divide that number by 2 to provide half the ventilation for intake and half for exhaust. Thus, 8 divided by 2 = 4 square feet of attic ventilation for intake and 4 square feet of attic ventilation for exhaust.
The final step is to figure out how many vents would be needed to provide 4 square feet of attic ventilation. To do this let’s start by converting the number to square inches by multiplying by 144. Thus, 4 x 144 = 576 square inches of attic ventilation for intake and 576 for exhaust. Air Vent ridge vents provide 18 square inches of Net Free Area per linear foot. To determine how many feet of ridge vent would be needed the formula looks like this: 576 divided by 18 = 32 feet of ridge vent. A typical 8″ x 16″ undereave vent provides 56 square inches of Net Free Area per vent. To determine how many undereave vents would be needed, the formula looks like this: 576 divided by 56 = 10.2 (which can be rounded up to 11). (From Air Vent Inc)
As for power fans: unless you have a huge attic, one is enough. Power fans can vent attics upwards of 2100 square feet.
Ventilation is needed, recommended and required for a reason. But, like food, too much or the wrong type can be a bad thing. Just because you put something in your mouth does not mean it is good for you. Ventilation is the same way. When you re-roof your home, be sure the contractor does a Ventilation Assessment. That assessment will determine the right type and amount of ventilation for your home.
For Those In South Carolina
Please click the "Free Estimate" Link on the right hand side or give me a call at 803-955-0374 to have a representative come look at your project.
For those of you along the coast of South Carolina, a good metal roof is a fantastic option. Not only do you have the wind and rain, but you also have the South Carolina heat, albeit, not as bad as Columbia.
There are a few things you want to look out for when choosing a metal roof if you live near the coast:
- Type of Metal:
Don’t forget that steel will rust, just look around you. Read the warranties on steel metal roofing, which includes Galvalume. Most of the warranties, if not all of them, are void within a mile or so (depends on the manufacturer) of a marine atmosphere. Where in Charleston –considering the rivers and waterways and ocean– are you not within a mile of a marine atmosphere? There are much better options than steel: Aluminum or Copper to begin with. But if you look around you’ll see plenty of steel metal roofs, maybe even on your neighbor’s house. The question is why? If roofers know there are inherent problems with them, why do they keep installing them? For one of two reasons: Either a), they don’t know any better, which is scary in itself or b), because they are cheaper. They don’t inform the homeowner that there is are options out there that won’t rust away in the near future because they are afraid of losing the sale.
- Fastening System:
Screw-Through Panels vs. Concealed Fasteners. Unfortunately, many of the roofs you see on houses now are nothing but glorified barn tin. Roofers tell homeowners that there is a lifetime warranty on the roof. And there may be on the metal itself, but not on the sytem –screws, grommets, etc… The panel may last for awhile, but it won’t do you a bit of good if, after 10 years, the fasteners have moved so much they are letting water in.
The ONLY secure way to fasten a metal roof in South Carolina is with a concealed fastener; something not open to the humidity, heat and salt spray. But again, the reason there are so many screw-through panels being installed on houses is because they are the cheapest type of metal roofing available, and there will always be a market for cheap, crap material.
The question is this: What type of metal roof are you looking for? If you simply want a metal roof because you think all metal roofs are good then do a little more research into it. If you feel like you couldn’t afford a good metal roof, then you may want to stick with the asphalt shingles already on the house, save some more money, and in a few years buy the real thing. It will save you a ton of headaches down the road.
Look into it. Don’t assume all metal roofing is created equal, because it isn’t. You don’t want to install a roof system that you think will last a lifetime and in a few years have to replace it.
For further information on metal roofing and/or to talk with someone about looking at your project, click on the "Free Estimate" link on the right hand side.
If you are in a hurry you can skip down to the list, but I encourage you to read the reasons for the list first. It will help shed some light on why it is important to look for certain things. It may also help you to understand why you have been so frustrated with buying a new roof.
The Reason for Needing The List:
Yesterday I met with a homeowner who was confused about the specifications on his new roof. He had already met with a few roofers, he didn’t say how many, and each one seemed to be doing something different.
Some of them wanted to put in a ridge vent. Some wanted to leave his one power fan. Some wanted to tear off the old shingles but leave the old felt. Some wanted to leave the shingles. In the valleys, some wanted to put ice and watershield, some didn’t even mention it. Some said gutters would help with the water runoff, and some said a rain diverter would be fine. Some wanted to run the ridge vent to the edge and some wanted to stop it a few feet short. And I could go on and on.
When you start the process of buying a new roof it is confusing. You have questions like, “Who do I call?” “What shingle do I use?” “What should I pay?”
And you would think that as the process moved forward the confusion would subside and you’d be left with a simple task of picking the one you like.
Yeah right, the further along in the process you go the more confused or frustrated you get. And at the end you are sitting there with 4 estimates, with a huge range in price and specifications, and you still have no idea what to do.
If this is you, you are not alone. In fact, you are in the majority, and this explains why the internet has thousands upon thousands of articles and information on choosing a contractor; because we, as roofers, are self-serving idiots when it comes to helping homeowners decide what is best for their house.
We, again as roofers, either don’t take the time to explain why we are doing what we are doing, or we haven’t learned enough to know why we do what we do. Some of us just do it a certain way, whether right or wrong, because that is the area standard or that is how our dad did it.
On behalf of all roofers, I apologize. I am sorry that we actually make a difficult buying decision worse.
So, what I want to do is give you the information you should have been given in the beginning. The information that focuses on what really matters: you, your house and what is best for it.
The List of Things To Look For When Buying a New Roof:
** A Note: This list is assuming you are interested in buying an asphalt roof. If you are considering a metal roof, which is a good idea, all of this applies except #2 (What Shingle?). I’ll post a separate list of things to look for when considering a metal roof, but this one first. If you are interested metal roofing, click here, but first read this list.
Do you need one?
What Shingle Should I Install and Should I Tear Off The Old Roof?
Is Ventilation Important? And if so, Then What Type?
Who Should Be Installing My Roof?
How Do I Know The Price I’m Paying is Fair For What I’m Getting?
Unless you buy roofs all of the time, and you might, how do you know the roofer is not trying to rip you off? You would think getting multiple estimates would help, and it could, but usually you end up with 4 estimates ranging from $5,000 to $12,000 and they are all doing something different. So there really is no way to compare on price, which is hard because comparing price is all we as consumers know how to do. If everything were equal; the specifications were the same, the insurance was the same, the shingle was the same, then comparing on price is easy, but that just isn’t the case very often.
Here are some questions to ask and/or things to look for when deciding if the price you are given is fair for the job they are doing:
Has the contractor done work in the neighborhood? Nothing will spread faster through a neighborhood then someone ripping people off. If they haven’t worked in the neighborhood then talk to people, with a house like yours, that he has worked for.
Has the contractor done houses similar to yours? Here in South Carolina, like most areas, we have neighborhoods that are twenty-five years old and some that are a hundred. Make sure the contractor has a handle on the specifics of houses like yours or he could be estimating it too high or too low, both are bad.
Make sure you know what is included and what isn’t. Get a price per linear foot or square foot (whether it is a board roof or a plywood roof) up front so you know what to expect if they find something rotten around the chimney. Be leery of roofers who say all of the woodwork is included. Think about it…how is that possible unless they have a crystal ball?
Now obviously following this list of things to look for won’t insure you have a problem-free roofing experience, but it should be pretty close.
Have you noticed that most roofers measure the house when no one is home? Ever wondered why they wouldn’t want to talk to the homeowners and find out exactly what they are looking for? The reason is because most of them are deathly afraid homeowners will ask them questions they can’t answer at least halfway truthfully. Here are 7 of those questions:
Do they have a permanent place of business?
Do they carry insurance and is the coverage adequate?
This list is at least a good place to start. If they can’t even give the right answer to these basic questions then show them the door and move on to the next company. And speaking of the next company, let me share some insight into buying roofing, or really any type of remodeling.
I’ve read that you should always get 3 estimates before deciding who to choose. Have you ever wondered why 3? Why not 4 or 8? A homeowner called me yesterday and said that he had called 4 roofing companies and no one has shown up. The point is this: Don’t get caught up in the number. You have to keep looking until you’ve found the one you have confidence in to do the job the way you want it done. You may know who that roofer is after meeting with just one because he did your mom’s house or your neighbor’s house and you are comfortable with him. Or it may take a month and you have to talk to 5 different people to get comfortable.
These authorities out there who say to get 3 estimates and then choose, have obviously never bought remodeling before, because it usually takes calling at least 3 companies to get someone to answer the phone.
As a roofing company who specializes in metal shingles, we take great pride in the homes that we do. To us they are a masterpiece; a work of art.
Not only do they last decades but they enhance the beauty and value of the homes. There aren’t many roofers who feel this way but I, and the rest of Bauer Roofing, do.
The following pictures are the before and after shots of a house here in Columbia, South Carolina. It is a fantastic house that had an architectural shingle on it that was less than 15 years old. The homeowner assumed, as most of you do, that an architectural shingle would last 30-40 years, and maybe some do, but rarely. From what we’ve seen and been told by homeowners, here in the south asphalt roofs of any type won’t last very long.
This homeowner wanted to put on a roof that not only was energy efficient, but one that would make the house look even better. They chose the Country Manor Shake by Classic Metal Roofing Systems. And, as you can see, the roof turned out great. The color, the style, everything looks incredible.
This particular shingle is made to look like hand-split shakes and is made of aluminum; meaning, it won’t rot, get that black mildew junk on it, or rust. And it comes with a lifetime warranty.
The homeowner, who had high expectations, said it looked even better than he had imagined.
Along the coast of South Carolina are some of the most beautiful homes in the world. Some of them, dating back hundreds of years, are exquisite in their architecture and demanding in their standards.
Modern builders, on the most part, are careful to use materials, including roofing, that can withstand hurricanes.
So, as a homeowner, you should be just as careful. As South Carolinians we have avoided major storms for the last few years, but we never know when the next Hugo will come. If you are in the market for a new roof then seriously consider putting on a roof that will not only keep your house dry during normal seasons, but also during Tropical Storms and Hurricanes.
The right roofing system will be able to weather storms with wind gusts up to 120 m.p.h (A Category Three Hurricane has Winds 111-130 miles per hour (FEMA)).
But here in the deep south, not only are we dealing with potential storms, we are fighting to keep our houses cool. It is normal to have weeks of 100+ heat indexes each year. But do you realize that if it is 100 outside then it is 150+ in your attic. Whether you put white 3-tab shingles or black architectural shingles, the fact is that they are both still asphalt shingles. Which means they absorb heat all day long and release into your attic all night long.
At what point in the night, after one of those typical summer days, can you go in the attic and it not be scalding hot? Exactly.
What is the solutions? Is there a product that can both guard our homes from strong storms and keep it from melting in the summer? Yes.
The answer is metal roofing, but not just any metal, the right kind of metal with the right kind of finish. Most of us when we think of metal roofing we picture the type that is on a Pizza Hut or bank, and it makes our skin crawl just thinking about putting that on our home. Do you really want your house looking like a gas station? Fortunately there are much better options; ones that actually work and keep the house looking like it belongs in a neighborhood, not an industrial park.
I’ve included a couple pictures of a house we did in Charleston. It has the Country Manor Shake by Classic Metal Roofing Systems on it and it turned out great. The homeowners have been very pleased with it’s appearance and function. They have since referred us to a friend of theirs and we just finished installing it. I’ll post pictures of it as they come in.
This house originally had an architectural shingle on it that lasted less than 20 years. The homeowners built this house to retire in and never imagined they would be replacing their 40 year roof less than 20 years later. That seems to be a recurring theme. And actually, when they first called, they were looking for a traditional standing seam metal roof. But after seeing the Country Manor Shake they changed their mind.
More and more homeowners are choosing to have a metal roof installed here in South Carolina. The benefits far out-way the cost, which is substantially higher than asphalt roofing. Homeowners who have sat down and looked at the life cost of owning a metal roof vs an asphalt roof overwhelmingly recommend a metal roof. It might be time for you to start looking at it too.
If you live here in South Carolina, click here to go to the Metal Roofing Solutions by Bauer Roofing website. If you’ll contact our office we will answer any questions you might have and ease your mind about any fears you may have. We would be honored to see if there is anything we can do for you.
Almost always when I knock on a door this is what the customer says, “We were just curious if we needed a new roof. I’m not sure how old it is, it just looks a little rough.” They go on to say, “Just look at it and let me know what a ballpark figure would be, we may do it now if it is within our budget or we’ll wait until next year, it depends.”
Does any of that sound familiar?
I’ll let you in on a little secret: roofing prices don’t go down. Whatever you pay 3 months from now will be more than today. That happens for two reasons: 1) If you have a leak of any size, it will only get worse. And roofing is a lot cheaper than doing a roof and replacing your ceilings. 2) Shingles have two types of asphalt in them, and asphalt comes from OIL.
Most homeowners don’t realize that shingle prices have just about doubled since March. On a 35 square house that is significant. And that is just the cost of the shingles. Add to it the cost of underlayment, ridge vent (vinyl) and delivery and you see why the sooner you do it the better.
If you have a regular 3-tab shingle and it is older than 15 years it may very well be time to get it done. Once you know you have to have a roof, everyday you procrastinate will cost you money. I know that sounds harsh but it is the truth. Search shingle prices or roofing costs and see what has happened to them.
If you don’t need a roof then this article is not for you. I am talking to those homeowners who are simply waiting for a future arbitrary time to do it. Go a head and get your ducks in a row. Meet with the roofing contractors and make a decision one way or the other. Don’t rush and make a bad decision, but getting roofers out to your home shouldn’t take more than a week, two at the most. If they haven’t called you back or say it will be a month, then move on. If a roofer is a month out to look at your house then there is an internal problem with the roofing company. If he won’t call you back when you are trying to give him money, do you think he’ll call back when there is a warranty claim? Find someone else.
There are fantastic articles on this blog about choosing a roofer. Things to look for When buying a new roof is a great one to begin with.
Spend time with each and every roofer that comes out. Walk around the house with them, go in the attic with them. Find out how they specifically do things. If they won’t meet with you at the house or indicate it isn’t necessary to meet then hang up and move on to the next one. There are plenty of companies out there who care about customer satisfaction and want homeowners to have all of the information possible.
The more time you spend with a roofer the easier it will be to make the right decision.
Go ahead and get it done, what are you waiting for?