Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Roof replacement project, my recent experience.


My recent encounter with roofing contractors would make you think that Colorado economy is so good that some roofing contractors could afford to ignore their potential customers. 

Our house is 20 years old and its roof is showing sign of deterioration.  Although it is not leaking, I don't think it would last another year of Colorado's harsh  winter.  Rather than waiting for roofing problem to occur, I proactively get it replaced.  I followed the general recommendation for selecting a contractor.  In my case, I was looking for a contractor who been accredited by BBB, in business for few years, have insurance,  and within 30 miles radius from my house.  Before contacting any contractor, I used online estimator to get a rough idea how much my roof replacement project would cost.  I wanted to remove the original shingles, and install Class 4 impact resistant shingles, and any other worn out roofing parts.  The reason for choosing Class 4 roof shingle is that hail storm is very common here and class 4 shingle would reduce my home owner insurance premium.   The online  estimated cost was between $6000 to $7500. With that number in mind, I contacted the following contractors and was very surprised that some of them don't care about my business.  Originally I was just go to call 3 contractors but it turned out I had to call few more just to get 3 estimates because some of them just ignored my call for whatever reason.  I suspected that summer time is a prime time for roof replacement and some of the contractors so busy that they could ignore my call.  I think this is a good thing too because they would probably ignore any call to correct their potential workmanship problem.  For 2 weeks, I contacted the following contractors:
  • Hometown roofing, Greeley.  I received a postcard mailing promoting roofing and other home improvement projects in our city, so I gave them a call.  Someone took down my name and phone number and said someone would call back to schedule an appointment for an estimate.  No one ever call back.
  • B&M roofing, Frederick.  Pick this one from BBB site.  Someone took down my name and phone number, but no one ever call back to schedule for an estimate.
  • NorthernLight roofing, Longmont.  A project manager came to our house the day after I call them.  He sent me a project proposal the next day.  His roof replacement cost was at low $7K.  The cost including the upgrade to 30# underlayment, and optional ice shield at the valley.   He also wanted to replace all 5 vent caps, which I think was not necessary.  This contractor would use Owens Corning Duration Storm Class 4 asphalt shingle.
  • Creative roofing, Longmont.  The owner came to our house the same afternoon I called.  I think this is a small owner operated business.  Not accredited by BBB.  He said he doesn't need insurance because he would do the work himself.  The only reason I contacted him because he replaced the roof of my next door neighbor.  After looking at my roof he immediately gave us an  estimated cost of  low $6K.  The ice shield and 30# underlayment was included in the cost.  He had the lowest bid, but I was worry about the insurance. This contractor would also use Owens Corning Duration Storm Class 4 asphalt shingles.
  • Colorado roof topper, Mead.  Left contact info on their website.  Got an email reply couldn't do estimate until at least 10 days out.  Since I was expecting the third estimate the next day, I told them don't bother to come.
  • 3R roofing, Boulder.  The owner came to our house the next day after I contacted him online.  His estimated cost was at mid $6K.  Ice shield and 30# underlayment were included.    He was very responsive to all our questions and provided all the insurance documentation.  This contractor would use Certainteed Northgate Class 4 asphalt shingle.  We went to couple of our local building supply store to look for sample but no one carry this brand of shingles.   I asked the contractor about this and he told us that Owens Corning happen to have a larger market share in this region and assured us that CertainTeed Northgate is better shingles for this climate base on his experience.  He came by and drop off a sample for us to look at.  I searched the web for user review on this shingle but found none.      
  • Sunny roofing, Longmont.  Their website said they do roofing in our city, but when I call, they said they no longer do roofing in our city. 
With three proposals on hand, we had to pick one.  I don't like the Northernlight proposal, because it seem  like they want to charge everything extra.  For example, other contractors use 30# underlayment as standard, they wanted to use 15#.  Upgrade to 30#  would be couple hundred dollars more.  Other example, other contractors would install ice shield at valley area as standard installation, Northernlight said this is an option for extra charge.  They also wanted to replace some other stuff that I don't think is necessary.  I was go to pick Creative roofing, but I was really worry about the lack of insurance issue.  What happen if he got hurt on the job, would we be liable for his medical bills?  We finally decided to go with 3R roofing even though I was bit concern about the CertainTeed shingles.

When 3R came by with the project contract to sign, we were surprised to learn we need to pay half the cost up front.   This was never mentioned before and the other two contractors wanted full payment on job completion.   I have heard stories about contractor just took the money and disappear.  I was a bit concern, because this contractor has been in business for many years and no complain in the BBB site, I took a chance and signed the contract.   He said he would do the job on Saturday and should be done in one day.  Much to my relief, the roofing material were delivered to my house on Thursday afternoon.

 The installation crew shown up on Saturday 8AM. The weather was sunny and hot.  I think it just took about an hour for them to remove the old shingles, the rest of the day was spent on new shingle installation.  We were told before hand to remove things that are hang on wall because the vibration might knock them off.  Anyway, a ceiling light cover in a closet was shook loose and broken on the floor,  luckily no one was in the closet at that time.  , The crew of three worked until 8PM.  Unfortunately the crew was not able to complete the job because they didn't have enough shingles.   A very small section of the roof and the small bay window roof were not done.  Look like they just need one more pack of shingle to complete the job.  Because it was weekend, they couldn't get more material until Monday.  I was a bit anxious when the weather turned rainy on Sunday, but it was only a short shower in our area. We noticed a long section of metal drip edge on the ground after the crew left.  I thought it was leftover material and didn't say anything.  

On Monday, the owner came by and installed few shingles on the roof, but he said he would let the crew finish the shingle installation on the bay window on Tuesday.  I didn't know the reasoning behind this, delay but the crew did finish the job on Tuesday morning.   A city building inspector came by afternoon and approved the job.  I wondered what the inspector was looking for, he didn't even go up to the roof to look.  He just walked around the house and looked at the roof from the street.  We then sent the project invoice to our insurance company and they gave us 15% premium discount.

My wife later noticed that one section of drip edge look different from the rest.  I think  the crew forgot to replace one section of the drip edge.  I hope this was just a oversight and they didn't forget to do anything else.  Because of my extreme poor vision, I was not able to see what the crew did on my roof.   I just hope this contractor has ethical business practices and has not cut corner on material or workmanship.   I know I need to trust someone, trust but verify, but this is hard to do when you can't see.  I am waiting for the first major rain or snow storm to hit this area to test their workmanship.  I will keep my fingers cross and update this post as needed.

So, would I recommend 3R roofing?  I would give a cautious nod, definitely including this contractor in your consideration.  They were very responsive to all my questions and their price was reasonable.  It would be nice if they have not forgotten one section of the drip edge and have not miscalculated the amount of material for  the job.

We had similar experience with gutter contractors.  The week after the roof replacement, we decided to replace the gutter too.  We called 4 gutter contractors and only one bother to call back.  Rather wasting more effort to get more estimates, we just gave the job to that contractor, Rainminder Seamless Gutters in Longmont.  They seem to do a good job. 

Update 10/3/2015
According to tjhis article, BBB rating doesn't mean much.

20 comments:

  1. Seems to me, that no matter what criteria or checking up on contractors is done, there are always some that seem to slip through the net so no matter how careful you are, you can still end up with a poor job. Word of mouth reputation generally ranks highest in my opinion than official certification

    Terence Warner @ Brunwin Roofing

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Having survived the hurricane season of 2004 in Florida, I feel my advice might be appreciated.
    First: Building permits are required!
    Second: Trust the local contractors. There will be a flood of opportunistic, non-licensed, without insurance laborers who will do it cheap but may disappear.
    Third: Don't do it yourself! It's hot, difficult and dangerous work. Use local contractors!"

    Catherine Burns @ Easton Roofing LLC

    ReplyDelete
  3. I live in Colorado and I find this to be very helpful advice. The harsh climate here can be really hard on your house. I'm not surprised you had to do what you can to help protect your house against our many snow and ice days. Thank for sharing a really good idea with us.

    Carl Morton @ Aio Homes

    ReplyDelete
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  8. Thanks for the review of the various contractors. Sounds like you ended up mostly happy, which is better than a lot of people. Did the new roof have an impact on your home's overall value, or on the insurance premiums?
    Thanks,
    Charles from Dedham Home Insurance

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  12. Trusting a company to do a big job like replacing your roof can be a little intimidating for sure. I hope that you found their work to be satisfactory after it was completed. I know that the climate where you live can really wreak havoc on a roof and it needs to be really durable!

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