Seattle and the whole Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest is famous for one thing: Rain. Even in the summer. And quite possibly the greatest nemesis of the perennial wooden roof of the Pacific Northwest is – yes, you’ve guessed it – rain! That problem creates a unique challenge for roofers in the region, but not an impossible one.
A half century ago, roofs here were made of shake, which is basically uniform splinters of wood, more or less. Today, because of regulations, covenants and good new technology, there are excellent alternatives to using a fire hazard such as wood to cover your house with, and all that makes it a bit easier to swap out a roof in the middle of winter, even if it’s raining.
A winter roofing project
Even when the weather forecast is good, and no actual rain is expected, a roofing company cannot completely depend on that “good weather”. Freezing temperatures can mean, if any water does fall on an exposes roofing structure, real damage can happen. If even a little water gets into rafters for example, a subsequent freezing can significantly weaken a structure or damage it in other ways. In the summer, a little rain can be tolerated if you can expect the materials to dry out again quickly. So, there are several ways winter weather presents a challenge:
Water does not dry out as easily in the winter as it does in the summer
Freezing water can cause additional damage, and is more likely because it can take so long for the soaked wood to dry
Strong winds are more likely in the winter, complicating efforts to cover the house while work is in progress
Workers’ dexterity can be compromised when temperatures drop below freezing
Accidents are more common in roofing projects during the winter than in the summer
Preparation can take longer, as tarpaulins and other protective methods are put in place before the job, and deconstructed afterwards
not every roofing company has the equipment and/or knowledge to do the work
Advantages of roofing in the winter months
Because most roofing jobs are done in the summer, and roofing companies can find themselves with staff on the books who are not involved in doing work, roofing companies are often in a bit of a pickle. Those roofing companies that do not pay their employees through the winter stand to lose those same staff in winter, and have to go hire and find new staff when the spring arrives. This presents the consumer with an opportunity: roofing companies are usually more eager to handle your roofing project during the winter simply because it allows them to take advantage of a quieter season of the year, and to keep staff who might have otherwise skipped town or done a different type of work. There’s only one big thing here, however, you need to consider: Does the roofing company have the proper winter gear to do the job?
A roofing company that specializes in bad weather projects
Swapping out a roof in the middle of winter is no easy task. A greater likelihood of rain, higher chances of wind, and the possibility of freezing temperatures all conspire to make it hard to get the project finished, and to do so without damaging your house.
What’s more, materials are less pliable the lower the temperatures go. The rolls of waterproofing material that is placed over the plywood (in a typical Northwest house at least) gets a bit stiffer the colder it gets. It’s not to say it doesn’t do its job. Such materials are used on roofing projects year over year. But, consider the simple reason the Challenger shuttle for a moment. A simple O-ring that usually formed a hermetic seal for the shuttle’s highly combustible fuel became stiff enough one frosty Florida morning to cause it to fail just enough for a little fuel to escape in the wrong place at the wrong time. It came in contact with the flames below the rocket, and the rest, we all know, is history.
You don’t have to expect a huge explosion if your roofing materials are a bit chilled, but your roofing company does need to know how to operate in the cold. Ask them about previous winter jobs, and what kind of results they got. Do they have the necessary tarpaulins that are used on these projects?
Often, a winter-able roofing company will do the roof in stages. That means, some of the roof will be completely re-done before they move on to the next stage. It takes a bit of organization, but it means only part of the roof needs to be covered at any one time, and not as many resources need to be tied up at the one time. It has to be easier to keep control of a roofing project when only a piece of the roof is exposed at any one moment. Ask your roofing contractor about how they propose to to the project, and how they will continue to protect the roof in the event the weather takes an unexpected turn.
How the season affects the price of the roofing projects
No one likes to pay a higher price for something simply because it’s the ‘wrong time of year’, but despite the fact that it’s harder to do a roofing project in the winter, it is usually a bit cheaper. Most people want their roof done in the summer months, which puts you in a good position if you are prepared to have it done one the ‘other side of the year’. You will have your choice of roofing companies, and they will likely cut you a good deal because it allows them to retain staff and keep the summer months open for the demand. So, talk to your roofing company about getting the work done, and ask how much of a price break they are will to give you for that.
Replacing the roof on your house in the winter should give you a discount of at least a few percentage points.
One last thing about the Internet and your roofing company
You probably know that good Yelp reviews and Google reviews can help (or hinder) any business. If you’ve ever written an online review for a product or service you retained, write one for your roofing company after they have completed the work. Make the review constructive, in a way that it helps other potential consumers understand the service they can expect. That will help your roofing company and they, in turn, will look after you as a result of it.
See you next week!