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Roofers: Find the Right One

Fixing or replacing a roof is a common home improvement project -- but by no means a simple one. Here are some tips on a successful roof project, and how to hire a roofer so that your head stays dry and your bank account doesn't get soaked!

First, do some research and learn about your roofing project. Having some working knowledge of a roof project helps you to make the best decision when choosing a roofing contractor. Some common things you need to know about a roofing job:

• You may not need an entire re-roofing. If your roof is less than 15 years old and isn't in bad shape, you may just need repair. If the repairs are extensive however, it might make more sense from a financial standpoint to replace the entire roof. Seek out several opinions.

• There are many types of roofing tiles; which ones you pick make a significant difference in the total price of your roofing job. Asphalt shingles are the most popular and least expensive, followed by wood shingles. When choosing tiles, don't let your roofer sell you on higher-priced materials. Most tiles come with a 25-year warranty; it's the labor that most often causes a quality issue.

• Having to remove the present roof adds significantly to the cost of a roofing project. Many times a new roof can be laid over the old one, saving money on disposal and removal costs. Make sure you check your local building code; many areas allow you to roof over only once.

When it comes to hiring a roofing contractor, keep the following in mind:

• Check with your local home builders association for licensed roofing contractors, and then make sure you check out any complaints against them.

• Ask for the address of several of the contractor's previous jobs, and for client references you can contact. Then actually check them!

• Make sure your roofer has the proper insurance, and ask for a copy of their liability policy. Last thing you need is a worker crashing through your roof and you getting served with a lawsuit for injuries.

• Use a contractor that has been in business for at least 5 years...unscrupulous contractors don't last long.

• Interview several different roofers, and ask them to show you different roofing options. Don't allow them to use high pressure tactics to sell you a more expensive roof than you need.

Finally, here's a list of roofing terms -- it's always easier interviewing contractors that you can understand the lingo -- and let the contractor know you know a little something about the work to be done.

Roofing Terms to Know (from the National Roofing Contractors Association)

Deck/sheathing: The surface, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), to which roofing materials are applied.
Dormer: A small structure projecting from a sloped roof, usually with a window.
Drip edge: An L-shaped strip (usually metal) installed along roof edges to allow water run off to drip clear of the deck, eaves and siding.
Eave: The horizontal lower edge of a sloped roof.
Fascia: A flat board, band or face located at a cornice's outer edge.
Felt/underlayment: A sheet of asphalt-saturated material (often called tar paper) used as a secondary layer of protection for the roof deck.
Fire rating: System for classifying the fire resistances of various materials. Roofing materials are rated Class A, B or C, with Class A materials having the highest resistance to fire originating outside the structure.
Flashing: Pieces of metal used to prevent the seepage of water around any intersection or projection in a roof system, such as vent pipes, chimneys, valleys and joints at vertical walls.
Louvers: Slatted devices installed in a gable or soffit (the underside of eaves) to ventilate the space below a roof deck and equalize air temperature and moisture.
Oriented strand board (OSB): Roof deck panels (4 by 8 feet) made of narrow bits of wood, installed lengthwise and crosswise in layers, and held together with a resin glue. OSB often is used as a substitute for plywood sheets.
Penetrations: Vents, pipes, stacks, chimneys-anything that penetrates a roof deck.
Rafters: The supporting framing to which a roof deck is attached.

Slope: Measured by rise in inches for each 12 inches of horizontal run: A roof with a 4-in-12 slope rises 4 inches for every foot of horizontal distance.

Square: The common measurement for roof area. One square is 100 square feet (10 by 10 feet).

Rake: The inclined edge of a roof over a wall.

Ridge: The top edge of two intersecting sloping roof surfaces.

Sheathing: The boards or sheet materials that are fastened to rafters to cover a house or building. 

Truss: Engineered components that supplement rafters in many newer homes and buildings. Trusses are designed for specific applications and cannot be cut or altered.

Valley: The angle formed at the intersection of two sloping roof surface

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and


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