Several factors determine how difficult a roof is to replace. You say you live in Kirkland, so we already know that weather is going to play a role, but let me spell out what’s important. A lot of it will be obvious, and some of it is particular to a person’s exact house, but this will help you ask the right questions when it comes to talking to a potential roofing company.
How weather affects the re-roofing project
If it’s pouring from the heavens, there’s a risk that water will get into parts of the house that are normally protected by the roof. Sometimes, though, bad weather has exposed serious leaking problems to begin with, and replacing the roof because of those leaks is exactly why the project is needed. So you might have little choice.
Some roofing companies with work in almost any weather conditions. If they have the right canopy equipment, they can essentially cover the house with supported tarps while the work is being done.
Rain is one thing. Gale force winds are another. Roofers can work under tarps, even in heavy rain, but high winds, with or without rain, can really make things difficult or even impossible.
If it’s spring, summer or fall, you’re probably OK to get the work done without coverings, unless you’re unlucky with the weather, but the middle of winter can sometimes offer the few days you need to finish the job. Keep an eye on the forecast, and talk to your roofer about what happens in the event of bad weather.
Steepness and accessibility by roofing company employees
Some roofs are easy. The house is on flat land, all sides of the house are accessible, and a roofer hardly needs a harness to walk across your roof. Steepness will affect the project cost, and accessibility is another factor. If your house is surrounded by trees on a steep incline, and the roof itself looks more like a church steeple, special equipment might be needed to both remove the old roofing material, and install the new.
Any roofing company that offers you a bid will take all accessibility issues into question. In fact, you want them to know, if you do live in such a house, they must use the right equipment for safety of lal concerned.
Licensing and laws
There are state laws about almost anything you do around your house. If you want to chop down a tree, most counties and cities require permission. You might simply get away with cutting down a single tree, for example, but a neighbor might be upset and report you for it. Still, you always want to do the right thing, if only for peace of mind, so knowing the law around roofing codes is essential before you start. (You’re not still considering doing it yourself, are you?)
Any roofing company you hire to work on your roof must be bonded, licensed and insured. Not all of them are, so check before you commit to any work.
The right type of roofing material
Shake is becoming less popular, if for no other reason, that it burns easier, can be expensive, and must be replaced again in a dozen or so years. It also must be cleaned every year or two, or it won’t last as long. Composite can be an interesting alternative, and there is also life-long-lasting tile.
Most if not all neighborhoods in Kirkland have covenants. One house in the neighborhood with a cheap roof can lower the tone, and potential value, of all houses in the neighborhood, so using the right material as per the neighborhood is always a good idea. Happy neighbors, and good house values are always a good idea.
Sun-facing walls and general exposure
If your house is surrounded by trees, is on a mostly shaded slope of a north-facing hill, your roof is less likely to benefit from the sterilizing and cleansing effects of the baking sun. It’s wet enough in the Pacific Northwest as it is, but shaded houses come with extra challenges. The material must be suited to such a shaded and potentially moist environment. Consider a material that can be cleaned easily, and will at least be somewhat resistant to damp and mold.
Suitability to the rest of your house
Not all roofing materials work for every home. A flat surface home, for example, might have only one or two options. A shake roof, for example, won’t work on a flat surface, but tar and other materials will.
And there’s the question of how well it matches your siding. If your house has shake siding – which you might not need to be replaced – you may have to stick with the shake style of the roof you are replacing.
If you don’t have a good eye for style, it costs nothing usually to get the opinion of others. And if you’re living in a multi-million dollar home, it might be worth it to hire a designer professional to lay out all of your options clearly. Once the job is done, it’s hard to go back!
The work itself
I’m not a roofer, but I have paid several roofing companies over the years for a complete roof replacement. I have clear memories or the “before” and “after” experience in both cases, and I know that it basically involves three steps:
- Removing all of the old materials down to the (in my case anyway) particle board.
- Replace or thoroughly repair any damage – particular water damage – where necessary.
- Install the new roof, which includes that black waterproof vinyl or other plastic.
- Cleanup and disposal of discarded old roof materials (which you may have done right after step 1).
Talking to a roofer friend of mine, I know it’s unusual not to find some repair with that needs to be done before the new roof goes on. That is without a doubt one of the most essential steps of the project. Some roofing companies might be tempted to simply paper over old damage for their immediate convenience, but it is a foolish step. You need to completely clean and repair everything before the new roof goes on.
All along the edges
Like many professions, the edges are where the trouble starts. With roofing, where the roof meets the chimney, the gutters, and along the crests of the roof is most likely where trouble can start. Where the vinyl waterproofing is overlapped with itself should always be a clean, sealed connection. Not only will it stop water from getting in, but always birds and rodents. Perhaps you don’t mind birds so much as rodents, but once the birds have left, they may have left an opening for water or animals to enter your home. Hermetically sealed roofing will increase the life of your roof, decrease the likelihood that you will have any surprise bills in the future, and it will increase the heat insulation for your house.
Having a roof over your head
Remember, your roof is the primary protection for you, your family and the house itself. No one ever talks about “walls around you” but everyone likes to “have a roof over their head”. So, keep yours in good shape by getting it done right in the first place.
Talk again next week!