Hiring contactor for asphalt shingle - questions to ask

Old 11-09-05, 01:05 PM
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Question Hiring contactor for asphalt shingle - questions to ask

I currently have several requests for estimates out there and want to ensure (becuase of the wildly varying prices) that I'm asking the right questions when evaluating the job/quality they will provide. What types of things should I be checking on or asking (added to or above and beyond the list below) to differentiate between a good and bad contractor?

- Shingles: fiberglass (UL certified), warranty
- Job: duration, methods (such as using 30lb felt and/or cement sealent under shingles for wind protection)
- Contractor: certified/insured by state, References (at least 3)

Btw, I live in Colorado so weather is a definate variable in job quality (I will be tearing off my first/only layer).

thanks, j
Old 11-09-05, 04:42 PM
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Since you live in a snowy area, you'll likely want any contractor you choose to install ice & water shield across the bottom edge of the roof, and down the valleys PRIOR to any felt. You should also insist on new metal flashings everywhere they are needed, gutter apron, drip edge, step shingles, counter flashings, etc. and new pipe flashings and can vents, if it's practical to do so.

If your contractors raise a fuss about any of the above, it's most likely that you won't want them working on your roof. The ones that tell you that those things are standard... or options they will be glad to perform... are probably the better roofers out of the bunch.

Not sure about the need for cement sealant in your area- usually that's only required on mansard roofs or roofs that are over a certain pitch. (its needed when gravity and the weight of the shingle won't make it seal on its own.)
Old 11-09-05, 05:56 PM
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I'm a licensed bonded insured roofing contractor in Minnesota with similar weather as you in the winter.
BTW, I hear horror stories all to often from homeowners who chose the lowest roofing bid for there homes.

Here in MN all my roofs either new or tear offs get a minimal of 5.5ft of ice and water shield on the eaves and 3ft in the valleys. All roofs get brand new valley metal and all vents.

Try to narrow your search down to three bids or roofers and work from there. Finding an owner operator is usually a safe bet as more than likely they will be around to cover there warranty years down the road. Speaking or warranties make sure to ask each contractor what there warranty is and what it will cover. Make sure all your bids that your considering are on the same page too. Some roofers will make there bid look the lowest to sell the job but slap on extra charges later such as a second layer of shingles, or re-decking.

As far as a shingle choice most laminate shingles running 245 lbs+ per square are safe bets. Landmarks and Timberlines are the two most common laminate shingles used here in MN.

Last edited by Jack the Contractor; 11-30-05 at 12:25 AM.
Old 11-11-05, 02:03 PM
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Thanks - that definately helps

Having a little trouble w/ my account, so a little delay in my response.

I currently have 3 bidders and am going through the motions of understanding their quotes and getting references. Looks like Tamko is the standard 3-tab out here in CO. I'll ask them about each 'piece' you mentioned and see what they say - I already know some were.

We'll see.... I'm also asking to see if I can do the 'tear-off' work myself - I'm a stickler for doing manual labor myself.

Old 11-11-05, 07:39 PM
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You should be able to save a large chunk of change if you tear off yourself. If a dumpster can be parked up to the house or garage it will help on the project big time. Get a potato or short handled flat tong pitch fork, a pry bar, and hammer and your in business.

Some roofers like to do all the work as it can be tough to coordinate you tearing off and the roofer shingling it right after your done tearing off. I've done it this way a few times with no flaws, just keep a close eye on the weather.

You may not need a licensed roofer either to shingle after you tear off as you will be pulling the permit. Getting a licensed roofer is usually a safe bet though but in most cases the license holder will pay somebody to roof your house, unless you find an owner operator roofer. One place to find a good shingle installer is a new construction development. Go to houses being roofed and note the quality (edges, valleys and how straight the rows are if possible). I've picked up lot's of work by homeowners hollering at me while roofing a house!

Make sure to ask the potential roofers how much more it will cost to go to a laminate architectural shingle. Usually the cost is pretty similar and the laminate shingles look so much nicer than the standard three tabs. Of the 35 roofs I've bid this year for tear offs every bid was written with laminate shingles. If the homeowner can't afford laminate shingles he can't afford me!

Only once I had a homeowner ask me for references. I gave her the three recent tear off costumers numbers and she never called me back. Guessing she went with the lowest bidder.
Old 11-15-05, 05:28 PM
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Listen to dougger on his shingle choice. Make sure the roofers install step and counter flashings at all verticals. Anyone who slaps tar at butt joints and calls it good is no roofer.
Old 11-15-05, 05:47 PM
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Yes, make sure new flashing is installed in all areas of the roof if they are bad. In most cases unless the roof is over 100 years old I see bad flashing. Of course all valley flashing is removed and installed with new roll metal with a California or closed cut valley.

If you are tearing off make sure all areas you think questionable wether it be stained spots on your decking to step flashing that looks rusty are replaced. Also make sure ice and water is used according to local code.
Old 11-29-05, 07:38 AM
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Status update...

Well, I think it's turning out well. One of the contractors was also an inspector which has ended in my getting some claim monies to replace my roof. I met last night to go over the details and here's what I'm going to get:

- 15# felt w/ 90# felt in the valleys (no metal will be used)
- all flashing and wall mount flashing replaced
- new vent 'covers' and turbine
- drip edges
- tear-off
- I'm upgrading to 30yr. laminate shingles for $345 (materials only)

Ice & water shield is not code where I live and not very common I guess...

So, esentially I'm getting a new roof for $845 (incl. deductible). Not bad if you ask me

Thanks for your input - quite invaluable.
Old 12-01-05, 07:06 PM
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Looks like your faring rather well except two things. I would never think about installing a valley without ice and water shield and would never imagine a roofing not putting down flashing in a valley whether it be roll metal or pre-form metal.

Perhaps in your area rain is not common and ice and snow is out of the question!

Good luck!!!
Old 12-06-05, 06:09 AM
Andy Cross
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Question for roofing experts!

I have contracted with a roofing contractor to complete a tear off and install new architectural shingles. My question is what is the lowest temperature allowable for proper sealing of the new shingles? I live in Hampton Virginia and the High temeratures are only to be in the low 40's today through Thursday. Possibility of snow Friday. The singles have been delivered and the dumpster is on the way.


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