Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Past Project: a New Roof, Windows, Gutters

Ok, so this may be cheating a little. (A) this was completed in 2003 and (B) I did little except get out the checkbook. But technically, it is about the Yellow Cottage and also, there are some lessons learned.

The first lesson is finding a good contractor. We really didn't know anyone in the area to get recommendations from, so we decided rather than eeny-meeny-minie-moing it through the yellow pages, we would at least seek out an opportunity to meet contractors in one location. So, we headed over to the local home and garden show at a nearby college. These kinds of events are jackpots for research and also for the all important chemistry you want with your contractor. Watch out for sales people who are never seen again after the contract is signed and look for self-made contractors with references.

We talked to several contractors that day and found one we liked the most. He also did windows and siding (many roofers do) and we felt we had a good connection.

The second lesson is to always get multiple quotes. We took cards from several contractors. My number one rule was, if they don't show up, there are no 2nd chances. I was not going to worry about chasing down some contractor after they had ripped half my roof off. If he couldn't even show up to make the sale, how reliable would he be once the job started. We managed to get a few bids and, as luck would have it, our favorite from the home show was very competitive.

Lesson number three came when the contractor realized that while he had assumed there were only two roofing layers (you can go up to three layers in our county before doing a tear-off), he had been looking only at the newer extension roofs on the house. The main section of the house had three, so a tear-off was necessary. His quote only went up a little though - as he shared his mistake cost with us.

Always make sure the crew protects your windows and garden plants (and in our case an inground pool!) with plywood and/or tarps. Also, make sure that the contractor understands how to roof around chimneys (if you have one) and that if there are any additional structures or features on your roof that you discuss them in advance. We had an old tv antenna removed. Of course the contractor should have adequate tarping in case rain interrupts the job before the new roof is in place!

Because we were also having the contractor do new windows and gutter/white work, we also had the metal awning over the house removed.

After only a few days we had a new roof, new windows, new gutters - and we loved it. We had selected a standard shingle that had the new "architectural" look. Architectural shingle are beautiful, but costly, and also have a texture or ridging to them that requires a little more upkeep. With variations in color, the standard shingles were able to fit the bill without increasing the bill. The windows were all 6 over 1 (6 pane over a single open bottom), and while we had loved the beauty of the original windows - many sashes were broken, some glass was cracked, and both the noise and the insulation needed updated double-paned windows.

While the crew was very clean and took care to clean up, we had to be very cautious with bare feet in the garden and pool area for a while until we cleaned up stray roofing nails. Not something you want embedded in your foot!

Last lesson is PAY ATTENTION to weather changes. When we had some torrential rains after the work was done, we ended up with water damage in our front hall ceiling. The pitch on the gutters had been changed and was pitching back toward house in one corner...the build-up of water was such that it backed up under the roof and into the front hall ceiling. Tracking down a contractor after the final bill is paid for something like this is not always easy, but we were pleased that ours sent out his site manager within a few days and it was fixed within a week.

Research time: about 2 months

Contractor Quote/Cost: $8,000 (went to $8,500 with tear-off)

Schedule: completed in less than 1 week


  1. Getting a quality contractor gets half of the job done. You seem like a satisfied customer. Good research can give you contractors who produce fast and quality work. Cheers to you!

  2. It’s an important thing that you take your time in choosing the contractor. Finding a good contractor is not easy, although there are a lot of them out there. You have to be careful because you’re investing your time and money in them, and most importantly, you are entrusting your home to them. I like that you’re giving attention to every detail of the roof, windows and gutters repairs.

  3. I certainly agree with the two commenters here. I experienced how hard it is to look for a competitive contractor. It took almost forever since I’m searching and working at the same time. To make the long story short, I got a very friendly contractor just near my workplace that gave very satisfying results. I know decisions like this need a lot of thinking, and I never regret my decision of choosing that roofing contractor. The protection that the roof has given us for the past three years after the repair is absolutely splendid. I hope you felt the same way.

    -- Lino Kosters

  4. Thanks for sharing that information to everyone, especially to those who have roof concerns. I know that, through your expertise and experience, many roofs will be strengthened in your area.

    Jons Roofing


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