At Infinite Roofing we are very experienced when it comes to roofing and dealing with the mess left behind by other roofing contractors. This experience did not come easy and unfortunately roofing is a mostly non-reputable industry. There are out of town storm chasers looking to collect checks and never come back, contractors that will request more money before the job is done, roofers that do not have the manpower and end up leaving roofs half open over night when rain is coming and properties are extensively damaged from them not properly “drying in”. Roofing companies that will intentionally quote for quality materials and then use the cheap stuff. Home owners tell us all sorts of horror stories about their previous roofing contractors. Hopefully this will help to inform you about some red flags to look out for.
Many of us here at Infinite Roofing started out working as laborers years ago for some other not so notable roofing companies, doing all the hard graft like carrying shingles up and down ladders. Over the years, we’ve seen it all. We have learned all the ways other roofing companies will try to rip you off!
1. Plywood Replacement
Most roofing companies will offer a select amount of pieces of plywood replaced for free and then offer additional pieces of plywood replaced for an additional cost to the homeowner. The problem that can arise in this situation is that most homeowners are not home while the roofing project is being completed. So when the roof is torn off and a non-reputable roofer sees that there is only 2 sheets of plywood that needs replacing, he will add additional sheets and tell the homeowner that 12 sheets were replaced. The current market price of pieces of plywood are replaced at anywhere from $40 to $75. If someone is charging you for 10 sheets of new plywood but only replaced 2, then they have ripped you off $400-$750 and you would never have any way of telling because you were not present during the install.
In order to protect yourself from being ripped off this way there are a few things you can do. One would be to stay home and count the amount of plywood that has been torn off and replaced as the job is taking place. Another would be to go up in your attic or crawl space and look at the ceiling or bottom of the roof. If it is unfinished with no sheetrock then you should be able to see the plywood decking. Any new plywood will look significantly different from a plywood material that is over 20 years old. The new plywood will usually just be a brighter color. It can also be different makes such as OSB and the difference in appearance can be easily recognized against plywood.
2. Only Three feet of Ice and Water Protection
When most roofing companies write a contract, it will include six feet of ice and water barrier along the bottom edges of your roof to prevent ice damns from causing leaks in side your house. To achieve six feet of this protection, roofing contractors will install two courses of a three foot roll. Ice and water barrier is an expensive underlayment and the difference in cost between installing one course and two courses can be at least a few hundred dollars depending on the size and complexity of the roof. Many roofing companies that offer you the lowest price to complete your roof will not want to factor in this cost and will usually end up only using one course of ice and water.
Most roofing companies in the Albany NY and Saratoga Springs area, know that six feet is required but will choose to install three. Most local building codes call for 24″ of ice and water protection installed past the warm wall. The problem here is that most roofs have a 18″ – 24″ overhang at the eaves. This is why we prefer to and will always go above and beyond the code. Infinite Roofing backs up our work with a ten year warranty and we do not want to be responsible for a leaking roof. Once the ice and water is installed over a 24″ overhang it only leaves 12″ above the warm wall. This will cause the roof to leak after the ice continuously melts and refreezes again causing ice dams that causes water to be pushed up under the shingles further and further every time it melts and refreezes. One course of ice and water will eventually cause leaks. The roof may not leak the first year but could last 10-15 years before the leaks start damaging the plywood decking, framing, Sheetrock and finish trim. This will either be a very costly roof repair job or it might just make economical sense to replace the whole roof prematurely and losing out on at least a few good years of roof life expectancy. The only way to prevent being ripped off in this manner is to stay home during the roof replacement and watch to make sure that two courses of ice and water are installed.
Here at Infinite Roofing, in most situations we will have the old shingles completely torn off the house by 10 am. By 12 o’clock noon, the whole house should be covered in underlayments. So sometime in between 11am and 12 would be a good time to take a walk outside and peak up at the house to ensure two courses of ice and water have been installed. This will look like 2 courses of a 3′ roll along the bottom edges of the roof. It is usually black with a granular type surface. The courses installed on top of the ice and water will be a synthetic underlayment and will usually be a different color making it easy to tell the two apart. Reputable roofing companies will include the cost of this in their contract and will have enough work so that they do not need to cut corners to make more profit. This is why it is important to make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples” when comparing bids. One roofers bid may come in $1,000 less but will only last 17 years due to cheap underlayments and not enough ice and water installed. A higher bid will include name brand quality underlayments and six feet of ice and water. A roofing system with name brand shingles and better underlayments will generally last a good few years longer than a roofing system with cheap shingles and underlayments. This is why it is important to consider the cost of the roofs life more than the cost of the roofs install. A roof that cost less today will most likely cost a lot more in the future.
3. Step Flashing wasn’t included!?
When roofing companies give an estimate, they can sometimes leave out small details like step flashing replacement. Step flashing is a part of the shingle roofing system and should be replaced when a new roof is installed. Step flashing can normally be a tricky thing to include in estimates because sometimes the step flashing is nailed to the wall behind the siding making it impossible to replace without completely removing and reinstalling large sections of siding. Removing and reinstalling siding can cost hundreds more than most people will not want to pay when they have a cheaper bid. This cheaper bid will most likely not include step flashing. Once the roofing contractor shows up and rips off the roof you may get a call saying “your step flashing needs to be replaced and it’s going to cost $700 more”. Or worse even they will not communicate this to you until the job is finished and then you will be stuck paying for something that should have been included. Many low bid roofing companies work this way. This can be avoided by making sure that step flashing is clearly defined in the contract. When the step flashing is nailed to the wall behind the siding we will give the home owner the option of leaving the old step flashing or performing the siding repair to be able to get the old flashing out. Leaving the old flashing in is fine in most cases as it will last the lifetime of the house when installed correctly. Step flashing only leaks when its made of a corrosive material and rots out after 30 years. Step flashing that is made of aluminum or galvanized steel will only ever leak if installed improperly by a low bidding roofing company.
Step flashing is not to be confused with apron flashing. Apron flashing is usually one continuous piece of flashing that is installed horizontally along the bottom wall of any dormers, additions, or any wall to roof transitions such as porches or overhangs. It is fastened to the wall under the siding and usually protrudes about 4 inches over the top course of shingles. This flashing is typically not included in most roof replacements because it is attached directly to the sheathing on the wall and would need the siding to be removed to be replaced. Unless this is called for on an estimate it will not be included in the job and the roofing company will just re use the old flashing as it is made of a non corrosive metal and will last the lifetime of the house if installed properly. To prevent an issue from arising about step flashing, just make sure that all the roofing companies you are requesting bids from have included step flashing in the quote.
Counter flashing is also a gray area on most contracts. Many roofing companies will not include this in a quote. The counter flashing is a part of the chimney and therefore does not fall on the roofers scope of work. Infinite Roofing will include an option to replace chimney flashing at an additional cost if it is needed. We started installing counter flashing due to our customers having a real hard time finding a chimney specialist to provide a quote for the work. Counter flashing is something that must be done by a very experienced roofing contractor as it requires a high level of craftsmanship. Be very weary of roofing companies that say they will include this for free. They are looking to do whatever it takes to sell the job and can not possibly provide the attention to detail that replacing the counter flashing requires for free.
4. Wrong materials
Shingles – Some of the worst roofing companies will quote you for a top quality shingle such as GAF and then actually use a far less quality shingle saving themselves about a $1,000 for an average sized roof. These roofing companies will get away with this for a while because many times the shingles are delivered to the top of the roof by a boom truck. When the shingles are delivered to the rooftop, the only way you can tell what kind of shingles are being used is to go outside and look for the name on the packaging when the used shingle wrappers are tossed off the roof to be put in the garbage.
Ice and Water – Ice and water comes in many different brands and qualities. In order to receive a GAF 50 year full coverage manufacturer’s warranty you will have to use high quality name brand (GAF) underlayments. This complete roofing system is required by almost all shingle companies to receive their warranties. Shingle manufacturers do this because they know that their shingles will last a few years longer than roofs installed with poor quality underlayments. This means that if the roofers show up with a box of ice and water and the packaging doesn’t match the branding on the shingles. Your roof will most likely not be covered by a full coverage manufacturers warranty. The low bidding roofing contractor will tell you that you’re getting a manufacturer’s warranty and then show up with underlayments that cost about a third as much as the name-brand materials, saving the roofer around 500 dollars on your average sized roof. The contractor will get away with this one a lot as well because there usually is no one home checking to see that the right materials were used. Most often home owners do not even know to look for the difference in these materials. Using a roofing company that is certified by a shingle manufacturer will help prevent the use of lower quality underlayments.
A lot of these contractors will be sneaky with how their contracts are worded and will be sure to cover themselves if they are found out. If the specific materials are not called out in the contract, then these shady companies are not held liable for the roofing system they might have told you that you were receiving. This is why it is wise to make sure any and all materials are specified in the quote.
Precautions You Can Take
- Get a thorough quote.
- Say no to any contractor that asks you for all the money before the job is finished.
- Always ask for an invoice/receipt.
- Check the contract over thoroughly.
- Watch the materials that are delivered.
- Check the material brands listed on your quote/receipt against those that actually arrive.
- Count the plywood that arrives and count how much is actually used.
As you can see, the roofing trade can be a very cutthroat business. There are so many underhanded tactics a roofing company can use to extort money from you. By arming yourself with the knowledge of some of these nefarious techniques, you can make yourself a much harder target. Most importantly, get everything written down and never rely only on verbal agreements. Whichever company you go with, we wish you all the best. Nobody deserves to be scammed and those disreputable companies definitely do not deserve your money.