Rethink Before You Re-Roof

By Ann Cameron Siegal
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, September 24, 2005

The roofing crew was licensed, bonded and insured. The company produced a nice list of references. However, my new roof looks lumpy and uneven.

What went wrong?

The short answer is that neither I nor the roofing company's representative asked the right questions before the job started. The longer answer is we still don't know.

My 25-year-old light gray, three-tab asphalt shingle roof. It had served me well, but it was time to replace it. Simple solution: Put the same thing up again. No muss, no fuss.

Wrong move.

No matter what type of roofing you are considering -- asphalt shingles, wood shake, tile or slate -- there's much more to replacing your roof than just checking out the roofer's credentials.

Sometimes, it's hard to know what questions to ask. People in the industry agree, though, that there are some basic steps every customer should take before considering a new roof.

Before the Estimate

"Don't rush the process," said C.I. Harrison, vice president of H.T. Harrison & Sons Inc., a Rockville company that's been in business since 1908. "A quick decision is not always the best decision," she said.

How do you know you need a new roof? Would repairs tide you over for a few more years?

Widespread leaking or cracked and curled shingles all signal it's time to re-roof. And, if granules of roofing material begin showing up in your gutters in quantity, beware -- much of your roof protection is flowing out the downspouts.

"Before calling for an estimate, know what kind of a roof you have," said Steve Gotschi of Dryhome Roofing & Siding Inc. in Sterling. "How old is it? Are you seeking a replacement or just repairs?"

How much of your roof is visible from the curb? On houses where only the roof's edges show, the quality of shingles and workmanship are much more important than the style or color, but on houses such as Cape Cods and ramblers, where the roof is such a big part of appearance, style and color take on weight.

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