Homeowner Tips for Roofing — Be Prepared

Deciding to get your roof replaced is no small decision these days. With the cost of shingles more than doubling in the last several years, replacing your roof can be a major commitment to your home.

So what do you need to do? What should you expect from your contractor and what are realistic expectations? How can you prepare for your roof being replaced?

Tarps can help to protect your home from damageThe first thing you need to understand is that your existing roof likely has thousands of nails in it. When your shingles are removed, those nails will fall on the ground. A good contractor will tarp off an area in order to reduce the likelihood that nails will be left behind. A good magnetic nail finder will help to find most of the nails. And this is the part that most contractors don’t like to talk about — some nails will be missed.

It’s unfortunate but it is part of having a new roof put on. Are there ways to minimize missed nails? Yes. Cutting your grass prior to the day of the roofing tear off will make it easier for your roofer to see wayward nails and make it easier for a magnetic nail finder to pick them up. Long grass has a tendency to pull nails off even if a nail finder picks it up.

Smooth, dry terrain can also contribute to making sure that more nails are found by your roofer. If your prize hostas or day lillies are under the roof, chances are they’re going to get trampled. Just manage your expectations. Understand that roofing isn’t gentle work, and unless you paid $1000 for each 10′ x 10′ area of your roof, it’s not going to be like you have Michelangelo roofing your home.

Understanding that most of today’s roofers are very competitive means they aren’t factoring in a new $800 set of tires for you. That doesn’t mean that you should forgive them if they do not do their due diligence.

For a quality roofer, due diligence means they will lay a tarp down below the area of the roof being stripped. They will clean up the shingles which have fallen off the roof. They will pick up any nails they see. They will use a magnetic nail finder to attempt to find as many errant nails as they can. They will make every attempt to make your yard as clean after their work as it was before hand.

There are many roofers out there that will not even tarp off a job. In those cases, shingles and nails fall into a lawn and are later picked up, but with little care. If that is the case with your roofer, you can be assured that whatever their price, you probably paid too much because that’s a tell tale sign that they took improper shortcuts. Maybe they didn’t use drip edge on your gable ends. Maybe they skipped or used an inadequate amount of ice and water membrane. Maybe the only used 3 nails per shingle. These are all questions that you should find out prior to signing a contract.

After years of working on homes, I always find one of the worst possible things you can do is having a roofer do your gutters. The best roofers in the world blunder gutter jobs on a regular basis. Just this week I saw a home where the roof was done perfectly with quality work all around. But the gutters were a disaster. The gutter apron was the commercially available 2 x 2 inch junk that you can find at any home improvement store. The apron wasn’t even adhered with the gutter hangers. It was actually sitting on top of the hangers in places and others it was tucked behind the gutters. When I arrived for my meeting with the homeowner it was raining and I could see water pouring through the soffit material. It was a disaster but one that can fairly easily be remedied.

Understand that roofing is hard, back breaking work. Rarely will you see a roofer over 40 years old. Offer your roofers a glass of water and treat them like friends for the day they are working on your home and you will be rewarded with quality work.

The best roofing contractor will do everything he can to minimize problems.

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Jim McGuigan is the owner of Energy Masters LLC, a 5 star GAF Certified roofing contractor in the Milwaukee area.

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