Friday, July 3, 2009

Special Report: Roofing isn't so rough

Worms go viral as anal ooze
Getting roofing right means taking steps necessary to avoid scams and pitfalls, including waiting for the fall, getting good referrals and throughly checking out the contractor.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - Roofing doesn't have to be 'over your head.'

But a new one can help your home hold value through the recession.

Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor for Consumer Reports, has more than 20 years of researching and writing about contractors, including roofers.

She offered to The Roofery the following list of suggestions to avoid scams and pitfalls.

• Beat the rush. Summer is the busiest season for roofers. Waiting until the fall may save money. Contractors also may have weeded out less experienced workers by the fall. That means you'll get a more experienced crew.

Roofing for less. Click here.

• Word of mouth. Get several referrals from family, friends, co-workers and others you trust who've had a recent satisfactory experience with a roofer.

• Ask questions. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry also offers these questions to ask any contractor.

• Get lots of information. Look at ratings and prices of different roofing products and know what the contractor is going to use so you can lock in a price upfront. Know the work they will do. Find out who will actually do the work, the person making the bid or a subcontractor.

• Check for insurance. Get the carrier and policy number, make sure it's current and that it covers the company and its workers.

• Check licenses, certifications and trade group affiliation. Make sure they are properly licensed and/or certified to do the work by the book according to either the National Roofing Contractors Association, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, or any other state or local organization. Check the local Better Business Bureau for any complaints and how long they have been in the business.

• Get familiar with the work to be done. Understand what work is a matter of course and what work will require special skills or materials. Make sure they are not going to take any shortcuts such laying a third layer of roofing over two existent layers. Two is fine. Three can overloading the roof.

• Do your own inspection. Carefully get up on the roof or use binoculars to check for cracked, curled, or missing shingles and other signs the roof is nearing the end of its useful life. Check the chimney and skylights for cracks where water can seep. In the attic, look around the chimney and the boards you can see for any signs of water intrusion.

When is it time for a new roof? Click here.

• Get a detailed contract. Get as detailed a written contract as is possible and then build in some wiggle room to incorporate possible unanticipated costs by creating plausible what-if scenarios.

• Get a permit. It is best if the contractor holds the permits because most local jurisdictions consider the permit holder to be the party ultimately responsible for the work. If the contractor holds the permit, he is responsible for the work and the building inspector can in some cases act as something of an intermediary between the two of you.

• Get a lien release. This will protect you from a contractor who owes a supplier for supplies after you have already paid the contractor. Essentially, if the contractor has your money but hasn't paid for the supplies, you will be liable for what is unpaid.

• Inspect the work. Ask the contractor if they allow for or if it is standard practice for a manufacturer's rep or industry organization member to come after the work is finished to do an inspection to ensure the work is up to manufacturer and/or industry standards.

• Stick with it. "No matter what the project, changing your mind is always expensive," Lehrman says.

"Put it into the professional's hands to do everything from the tear up and shingling and clean up because these professionals know how to protect the property and how much to tear off to keep it water tight and so on. Better off not to be penny wise and pound foolish," Lehrman said.

• Click on the keywords below for more stories on this subject.

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop.

Perkins is also the first Examiner to cover three beats for the news service:
National Offbeat News Examiner
National Consumer News Examiner
National Real Estate Examiner

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