Home Matters: Due diligence required before selecting new roof

Driving around Boulder City these days you’ll see more than Christmas lights on rooftops. Roofers are on the job in droves.

Seemingly not a coincidence, I reached out to Black Canyon Roofing for local intel. Andrew Lawrence, project manager, explains that roofers are extra busy because property values have gone up.

“It’s like not wanting so spend a $800 to fix a car that’s only worth a $1,000,” he said. “Now that homes are worth more, homeowners are ready to spend on bigger projects.”

The expensive nature of reroofing may give pause, but putting it off may lead to property damage. Missing shingles or broken tiles will expose the underlayment, which, once under direct sunlight, will degrade, allowing rain to penetrate.

“If shingles are blowing off, you better think about replacing,” Lawrence said.

Also, water stains on your ceiling that become active during rain is a clear sign your roof is leaking.

Another reason not to dilly-dally is insurance. A dilapidated roof could cause an adjuster to deny coverage for repair, or prevent purchasing or renewing a policy.

The greatest reason to replace a roof is fire hazard. On older homes with dried out wood shingles or shakes, a single spark from a chimney could set them ablaze.

Know your roof’s age. Try to obtain the roof paperwork when purchasing a new home, and if you’ve replaced your roof, keep the work documents in a secure place.

Knowing its age will inform you if it’s still under warranty and, if it’s approaching its lifespan, give you time to start planning/budgeting for replacement.

There’s so much to know about reroofing and great liability and risks are at stake. That’s why leaving roofing to the pros is one of my credos. As the homeowner, your due diligence should be spent in making informed roofing decisions.

Things to consider when choosing a roof are wind, impact and energy ratings. Knowing a lighter-colored roof shingle will decrease heat penetration is useful info in the desert. A home on a hill where high winds prevail would warrant a higher wind rated shingle.

Most importantly, choosing a new roof is never the time to skimp on materials. Cheap asphalt shingles can last as little as 10 years (as opposed to 25-30).

Another need-to-know tidbit is choosing the right underlayment. Like the padding under your carpet, an inferior underlayment or one that does not meet a shingle manufacturer’s specs will hasten you roof’s lifespan.

While most roofs are asphalt shingle, concrete and clay tiles are prevalent here, as well. Did you know houses are architecturally designed to support the weight of tile roofs? If you own a home with shingles that needs reroofing and have a hankering for clay tile, consider stone coated steel roofing. It looks like tile, offers comparable insulation and durability, equal in cost, but is lightweight.

If your current home has tiles that are clay (100-year lifespan) or concrete (50-year lifespan), while the lifespan may be decades away, broken tiles leading to degraded underlayment would warrant a “raise and reset,”meaning the tiles are raised, a new underlayment is installed, then your tiles are reset.

Another optimal roofing option is closed cell spray foam. It provides 100 percent waterproofing and one of the highest R-values on the market. Because it can be maintained by recoating every 5-10 years, its lifespan is virtually forever.

For price approximations: composition shingles is $3-$4 per square foot; raise and reset is $4-$5 per square foot; new tile is $5-$6 per square foot; closed cell spray foam about 1-inch thick is $3-$4 per square foot.

Keep in mind when calculating surface area, it could nearly double your home’s square footage when you consider roof peaks, garage and patio cover.

When choosing a roofer, be sure to ask for referrals and look at its business license number.

“That number reveals the history of the business,” Lawrence said. “The lower the number, the longer they’ve been in business. A company that’s been around a while means more experience and they’ve withstood the test of time.”

On a side note, getting roofers to return calls can be daunting. Every homeowner I’ve spoken to about this matter shared the same experience, so patience will likely be required.

A seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally’s career includes four seasons as host of Discovery Home Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Toolbelt Diva. A columnist and author, Vally splits her time in Southern Nevada, Los Angeles and New York City. Follow her on Facebook at Norma Vally “Toolbelt Diva” and visit her at www.NormaVally.com. Email Norma@NormaVally.com.

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