Home Buyers Guide to Roof Estimates: 6 Questions You Should ask your Contractor

By: Ernesto Olivarri Jr.

The fundamental purpose of a roof is to provide protection from the elements to people housed under the structure. This means protection against the hot sun, keeping people dry in rain, unruffled in windy weather and safe from hail. The secondary function of a roof is to keep possessions and property protected. Everything inside would quickly be damaged or ruined without adequate roofing protection. Roofs are one of the most expensive components on a home and can be costly to repair or replace. In this blog, we are going to provide some insight into the components of a roof and what home buyers should be asking contractors if repair estimates are needed.

So, what exactly should you be concerned about? Let us find out!

1. Are the roof’s gutters installed properly?

Inspect the gutter guards for damage and proper installation. This is because the drip edge cannot be replaced if the gutters are attached through the drip edge. In addition, if there is a gutter guard, then it may need to be removed if a new drip edge is needed, which will cost more in terms of time and labor. While looking at the gutters, the contractor should also examine the underlay to see what exist, this will help get an overall better picture at how the roof was initially constructed.

2. Is the roof’s flashing in good shape?

The flashing is another important detail a contractor should carefully consider when giving an estimate. Without getting up on the roof, the contractor will not be able to tell whether it needs to replaced or determine what kind of flashing is installed. If the contractor does not bother to check out the flashing, there is no way they can accurately estimate the cost or what the process will be like. As a result, change orders will likely be necessary which can be a major headache causing unexpected costs. Faulty flashing can cause immense damage under the surface. If damaged flashing is present, do what you can to inspect it further and detect the damage that may be lurking under the surface.

3. Are skylights in good shape and leak free?

During the time of a re-roof, most skylights will likely need to be replaced. 18 to 22 years is the typical life span for an individual skylight, so if the contractor’s recommendation is the opposite of this rule of thumb, make sure to ask them about it. While the skylight may be working fine now, if it is near the end of its life it may be easier and more cost-effective to replace it with the rest of the roof. Removing and replacing a skylight is an intrusive process for the roof and is easier to do when you are already in the process of repairing or replacing a damaged roof. Depending on the home buyer, it could be worth including it in the estimate.

4. Are the soil stacks in good shape and leak free?

The contractor should also investigate the soil stacks for any cracks or other issues. This is another small but important detail of the roof that needs to be secure. It is not recommended to replace the soil stack boot with a cheap alternative. If there is damage on or around a soil stack, this should be factored into the estimate. While there is a range of replacement options, we opt for making an investment as opposed to a quick fix. Reinstalling a soil stack that will go bad before you need to replace your roof again will only cause more problems down the road. Taking the time and money to get this right will save you in the long run.

5. Is the chimney diverting water?

The chimney is also an area that cannot be accurately assessed without being on the roof. This is especially true for ensuring that the chimney has a saddle or cricket that diverts water away from it. Otherwise, during rain or snow, it will have precipitation landing or sliding right into the chimney which can cause damage and leaks. If there is damage around or on the chimney, the contractor will need to factor that into the estimate. The home buyer will have repair options to make depending on the kind and scale of damage sustained by the chimney. There will be more expensive and less expensive repair options available. Just make sure to choose something that will work well with the rest of the roof.

6. Is the roof ventilating properly?

Make sure that the contractor looks around the attic as well. Specifically, they should be looking to see how the ventilation is in the attic, as well as if there is any rotten wood on the roof. A quick look in the attic can tell you a lot about the condition of the roof, as well as the risk it has been subjected to in previous years. If there is poor insulation, you should look closely for excess wear on the roof from the additional heat that would leak through. During the winter, this heat can cause serious problems by causing the formation of ice dams. Essentially the snow melts on your roof and runs down freezing to the end of it.

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