Getting a New Roof: Not Too Exciting, But Awfully Important

Of all the things to spend money on, a new roof has to be one of the least exciting. And yet, delaying a new roof when you need one can make this purchase even more expensive.

While you may not know much about roofing, asking a roofer (or any contractor) some key questions should allow you to narrow the field. Do they have appropriate insurance? Are they licensed? Do they have experience with jobs that match your specific requirements? Do they have the communication skills and responsiveness to provide good service? Do they return your phone calls in a timely manner?

If they don’t return calls promptly when you want to purchase a new roof from them, how will they behave if something doesn’t go according to plan?

Do they have the infrastructure and financial capacity to complete your job, which may include performance bonding (an agreement that guarantees that the job will be finished for the agreed upon price)? You don’t want someone finishing half the job with 80 percent of the funds.

When you hire a roofer (or painter or almost any contractor), your biggest expense is typically labor, so for a small additional expense, you may as well choose the best roofing material you can afford. If the difference between a 30-year roof and a 50-year roof is only another ten percent of the overall cost, you’ll get a better value with the higher quality materials.

On any re-roof project, costs are spread across three main areas: labor, materials and overhead. Typically, roofers pay about the same for materials, should pay journeymen roofers about the same, and should carry the proper insurances and payroll burdens. If you get a quote that is much lower than others, it’s possible that the contractor is either using unskilled workers or committing insurance and payroll fraud. Unskilled workers probably aren’t the people you want working on your home and roofers without insurance may leave you responsible for medical bills if a worker is injured on the job. And frankly, it’s possible that if you hire a roofer who pays workers under the table, you could be considered a party to these illegal activities. Everyone wants a good deal. Just make sure that’s what you’re getting. Paying less isn’t always a good deal. Thanks to Stephen Dunlap of Dunlap Roofing for his expertise here.

So let’s say you’ve found a reputable roofing contractor. Your decision-making isn’t over. Now you need to decide what type of roof to purchase, because not all roofs are created equal. Not only do the materials differ, but other elements can make a roof replacement or repair more challenging: the pitch or slant of the roof, the number of items that penetrate the roof (e.g., skylights, vents, solar panels), barriers to access like big branches that hang over the roof, and more. Talk to your roofing contractor and they can tell you what the best options are for your home.

Next time I’ll write about consumer confidence, and where the market is likely to go as a result. If there’s something you would like me to write about or if you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at or visit our website at If you make a suggestion I use, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery & Café in Ukiah. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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