If you have ever solicited quotes for a home improvement project, you were probably more confused about what you were paying for than when you started. The more quotes you received the larger the variance between proposals.
Pricing is in the details. Regardless of the type of project; siding replacement, window replacement, roofing replacement, or any other home improvement; the price on the quote really doesn’t mean anything without knowing the specifications of ALL the work to be performed. For example, “replace all siding on the home” is not a specification. Describing the process of replacing the siding on your home would be specific, and would contain a list of specifications. For example: Remove all existing siding and place in contractor provided jobsite dumpster. Does “replace all siding on your home” include removal of the old siding? Probably. But it may not include the disposal of the waste. All siding manufacturers require a moisture barrier (house wrap) between the structure and the siding. Would this be included in “replace all siding on your home”? Very doubtful. What about inside corner boards, outside corner boards, window trim, window flashing, and cornice molding?
Window replacement pricing can be just as confusing and sometimes misleading. A $189 window does not meet the same specifications as a more expensive window. In fact, it does not qualify to meet the Federal Energy Star qualifications. Replacement Windows are manufactured using many different materials including: vinyl, cellular pvc, fiberglass, wood, and aluminum clad wood. A double pane window can be produced using single strength or double strength glass for each pane. The glass can then be coated with a low e coating. The low e coating can be applied to one or both panes of the glass. If it is applied to both panes, it is typically referred to as low e2. The low e coating will lessen the ultra violet sun rays and reduce the heat infiltration in the home. The glass coating efficiency will be reflected in the Solar Heat Gain Coefficent (SGHC) rating. The air space between the 2 panes of glass can be filled with a gas with more density than air such as argon or krypton which increases the insulating value of the glass and would be reflected in the U-Value rating. The other things that can affect window replacement prices are grids. Grids can be installed between the 2 panes of glass which is referred to as GBG (grids between the glass); installed on the interior and exterior of the glass which is referred to as SDL (simulated divided lite); or the grids can separate multiple panes of glass which is referred to as TDL (true divided lite). Again, pricing is in the details.
There are two ways a contractor can earn your business. He can try to be the lowest price or the best value. The lowest price typically comes with a large amount of risk. A low price typically means the following: low overhead (lack of capital, needs large down payment), no business location (moves around a lot), no workers compensation insurance, no general liability insurance, no business license, and no contractor’s license. The more items on the above list that applies, the greater the risk to the home owner. The best value is typically achieved when the customer knows exactly what they are going to receive (detailed specifications) from a company that has solid reputation with a history. They will supply a large reference list of previous customers in your area, require little or no down payment, provide proof of insurance with a contact and phone number, proof of business license, and a state contractor’s license.
The “highest price” is the perceived diminished value you will receive from not necessarily the most expensive quote. That’s right. If what you think I described above will result in the most expensive quote, you are wrong. Pricing for all reputable contractors is basic economics. The more material and labor you purchase, the lower the costs you will be able to obtain. Obviously the more material a company purchases, will enable them to negotiate larger discounts from the distributors. In fact, they may be able to buy directly from the manufacturers. Labor is the same way. Do you think a roofing crew would prefer to work 3 days a week on average or 5-6 days on average at a little lower rate? Now don’t start the “you subcontract your work?” It does not matter whether you subcontract your labor or if you have employees doing the work, the people who are good at what they do, highly specialized in their field, want to be paid on their performance, a per job rate, not an hourly rate!
The benefit to you is access to the highest quality craftsmanship, name brand products with superior warranties at the most competitive prices. Remember, pricing is in the details. Don’t make assumptions or rely on verbal commitments. Keep us all (contractors) accountable. The more you keep us accountable to you, the customer, the more we have to account for each other. The greater the competition leads to higher quality materials and workmanship at more competitive prices. But this cannot be obtained without THE DETAILS!
1. Your Roof Is On Borrowed Time
The roof on your house has weathered over 20 years and the shingles are showing signs of age. It is time to start from the top and work your way down. New paint can wait if your roof is on borrowed time. Make sure your roofing company carries the best warranty, a lifetime workmanship and the manufacturer’s warranty that covers all defects in material for the lifetime of the shingle. Most important, make sure your roofing contractor is a certified installer with the roofing manufacturer. Take advantage of the tremendous curb appeal that a new roof can offer.
2. The Paint Is Peeling And You Never Loved The Color Of The House Anyway
Paint can be your number one reason to give your home a facelift. Most people change their preference on food, clothes, and cars within a 7 year period, which is about the average paint cycle. When it’s time to paint the exterior of your home, why not change the color? When painting is a must, choose quality lifetime paint and don’t forget a good primer coat. You’ve wanted to change the color for a while, so do it! If you want to keep the white trim, consider a move away from stark white, to a “Mother of Pearl” or “Linen”. This will add warmth to your home. Paint is instant change and gratification.
3. You Are Hot In The Summer And Cold In The Winter
Your single pane windows have been painted 10 times, the builder grade windows are fogged, and you’re ready for lower electric bills. It’s window replacement time! New windows make an old home feel new and bring tremendous curb appeal. The return on investment will make you smile when you open the electric bill each month. While an interior kitchen or bath remodel are always popular upgrades, replacing windows can have an 80% return on investment (Reliable Remodeler.com).
4. The Front Door, The Focal Point Of Your Home, Is The Last Place You Want To Welcome Guests
This is the focal point of your house, where your guests wait after the door bell is rung. What are they looking at before you let them in? The door is what welcomes them. Is it time for a fresh coat of paint? Has the sun faded the polyurethane finish and it’s time to re-stain? Small changes can make big differences. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
5. One More Round of Band-Aid Paint to Save Your Siding Is Not The Best Approach
Rather than putting a new coat of paint on siding that needs more than a Band-Aid, replace the siding with fiber cement or vinyl siding that will more than upgrade the look. Even better, according to Remodeler Magazine in 2010 and 2011, siding replacement consistently yields an 88% return on investment, higher than any other interior or exterior project!
6. You Have A Personal Connection With Niagara Falls Watching Rain Overflow Your Undersized Gutters
Get rid of the old 4 or 5 inch gutters and replace them with 6 inch seamless aluminum gutters with internal hangers. Not enough can be said regarding the importance of size and proper installation of new gutters. Consider changing the gutter color to contrast with the trim. For example, bronze or dark color gutters that match your shutters, front door or roof are extremely popular. The clean look of new gutters and no maintenance gutter protection will add increased curb appeal and peace of mind in protecting your newly painted trim from water run-off from your roof.
7. You Have Focused On Interior Renovations and Never Invested In Exterior Upgrades
It’s already been stated that new siding will yield the highest return on investment for any renovation. Consider how important first impressions are and remember the outside of your home is just as important as the inside. From a sales perspective, the outside is often more important. No gorgeous granite counter top will charm the potential buyer who drives past your home. Don’t forget the outside will draw a person inside.
8. You Can’t Sell Your House In The Current Market, So Invest In What You Have And Increase Its Value
Your plan was to move two years ago, then the housing market took a nose dive. What was initially a temporary home is now Home Sweet Home. Well maybe not, but consider the benefits of what improving your home will bring when the housing market returns. Who knows, you just might find yourself falling in love with the home you had always planned on selling.
9. You Have Always Liked the Location Of Your House, But Never The Look
It’s never been disputed, the right location will sell a house and you fully agree. You are one who bought your house for the location and have never loved the look. Maybe you have tackled the interior obstacles but closed your eyes to the exterior. Dream kitchen and baths grace the cover of magazines, but rarely is an exterior facelift given its proper recognition. Consider working with an exterior remodeling company that gives you an Architectural Rendering of what your house can look like with a few changes. Focus on creating Light, Texture and Color. Your home’s exterior is an empty canvas of possibilities. If you like the location of your home, get serious about liking the look of it as well.
10. Maintenance Is A Must, Makeover Your Home At The Same Time! Finally, when your house is screaming for maintenance, go beyond the musts and consider tying in a makeover. When you’re deck is falling off, replace it with 20 extra square feet or with cypress decking versus pressure treated. When wood trim is rotting, replace it with a fiber cement no rot material. When you paint, upgrade to lifetime paint. Small changes make big differences. If you’re getting opposition from your spouse when a makeover is on your mind, use maintenance as your excuse to do more. Your home is your castle. Treat it like one.
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Choosing to replace your roof is a huge undertaking and one of the most important decisions to protect your home. It is vital that you do your homework when choosing both the materials and professionals you want on your roof. In my 14 years of experience, I have found that GAF roofing materials offer the best roofing system available, with the best underlayment, shingles and warranties in the entire industry.
But choosing materials is only half the battle: Who you hire to do the work is just as important. It is best to choose a local company with an outstanding reputation for offering quality workmanship. Always avoid the “storm chasers” who travel from state to state. When this type of contractor completes a job, they are off to the next storm-ravaged area — and your warranties go with them.
Make sure the companies you consider have a contractor’s license issued by the state, and not just a business license. This will ensure accountability to your state and local area, as well as providing a way to research them beforehand. Independent testimonial sites such as Kudzu or Angie’s List are a convenient way to see individual experiences with various contractors, providing the good (and possibly bad) attributes of each company.
The contractor you choose will need certain information to provide an accurate estimate. There are different ways to provide accurate measurements, including never having to step foot on your roof. It is always the best practice to keep as many people as possible off your roof. The more times it is walked on, the more susceptible it is to damage. Companies can measure your home’s dimensions from the ground, using tools to add pitch factor and waste to determine all final measurements. This provides extremely accurate measurements.
To have your roof inspected for damage, your insurance company is always your best bet. Not only are they the ones who would inevitably determine whether or not you receive compensation, they also are trained and insured to be up there. You can put yourself at risk by letting someone without insurance set foot on your roof. This is a very dangerous endeavor and you could be liable if any accident occurs.
Besides being a considerable investment, your home’s roof is its first line of defense against the elements. It’s important that you consider all the facets of a replacement and make the best choices for your family. For more information on roof replacement, see http://www.exovations.com/blog/index.php/2011/02/current-trends-in-roofing/
The often turbulent weather will have many folks in metro Atlanta contemplating whether to replace their existing roof system. Replacing a damaged roof is one of the most important projects a homeowner can do to protect their most treasured, and often most valuable, investment. On the surface, a roof replacement may seem to be a relatively straightforward project with very few options. In reality there are actually several things for a homeowner to consider before undertaking this type of project. Since this will likely be the last time you will replace the roof on your current home, it is worth a little extra time to consider all of your options.
See Big Picture:
Before you get too involved in selecting some of the items suggested below, you may want to consider a few high level factors that may influence your decision- making process:
Neighborhood – If you are considering replacing your roof, it is likely that some of your neighbors have already done so. Before you get too entrenched in the details of selecting a product and a contractor, take a walk (driving is expensive nowadays!) down your street to see what your neighbors are doing. While you have the ultimate decision as to how you will improve your home, adhering to the norms of the neighborhood will typically help to optimize your return on investment for that project.
Covenants / H.O.A’s – Some neighborhoods with homeowners associations may have restrictive covenants that specify the type of building materials you can use, including roofing.
Future plans – How long you plan on staying in the home may play a key role in the remodeling decision making process. While it never makes sense to sacrifice quality in any home remodeling project, your future plans may impact what kind of investment you are willing to make.
Once you have thought about these items, you are ready to move forward with the decision making process:
Type of Shingle:
There are two predominate types of asphalt shingles available today, “3-tab” and “Architectural”.
3-tab shingles have two notches cut into the lower edge so that when it’s laid on a roof it looks like three smaller shingles. When viewed on the roof, 3-tab shingles have a distinguishable, repetitive pattern.
Architectural shingles (also known as “dimensional” or “laminate” shingles) have an extra piece of shingle laminated to it to give the appearance of thickness and texture when seen from the ground. Architectural shingles also do not have the same regular pattern as 3-tab shingles and will give you a more custom look. When considering this type of option, you may also chose from different variations of Architectural shingles called specialty or designer shingles that give the appearance of other roofing materials (Slate, Cedar Shake, etc.) while allowing you with the reliability and durability of an asphalt shingle. Many of these specialty shingles are engineered to last longer than standard Architectural shingles and thus carry even longer product warranties.
If the slope your roof is shallow (20 degrees or less) the type of shingle is not likely to be a strong visual element of your home. From the ground, the most predominate feature will be the color of the shingle. So – for a shallow pitched roof a 3-tab shingle is likely a good choice. If you have a roof with a steeper slope (more common in newer homes), the roof is very likely to be a more predominate architectural feature. In this case, the shingle pattern will be very visible, and the roof itself may be the first thing people see as they drive down the street towards your house. So – for a steeper slope roof, you may prefer Architectural shingles.
Color selection for any home improvement project can be both an exciting and stressful decision. For the best results, your new roof color should compliment the rest of your home’s exterior, including the siding or brick color as well as the associated trim. If you are unsure about shingle color, there are several methods to help ensure that you will be happy with your color decision:
- Look at houses similar to yours. Specifically look for houses with similar architecture and rooflines.
- Simulation Programs – Many manufacturers and some contractors have access to computer simulation programs that can model various shingle types and roof colors on your house. While these programs are a useful tool for comparisons and narrowing choices, please remember the limitations in viewing colors on a computer monitor or printout.
Additional details to discuss with your contractor:
Attic Ventilation – A properly designed attic ventilation system keeps your attic cool and dry by allowing cool outside air to enter your attic through your eaves or soffits and hot humid air to be exhausted from the vents that are typically located at or near the ridges on the roof. An improperly ventilated attic can not only cause premature aging of your roof system, it can also cause damage to siding or exterior paint, warp the roof decking, allow for mildew growth, and even cause higher energy costs. In order to work properly, the intake and exhaust vents must both be operating properly to supply the cool, dry air into the attic while exhausting the hot humid air. A roof replacement project is a perfect time to reassess your ventilation system and make changes to improve it performance. A competent roof replacement contractor can help you determine your ventilation requirements and whether changes should be made to your current system.
Fungus Protection – What are those black stains on your roof???? Those stains are actually an airborne fungus. This fungus grows and is attracted to roof areas with the following characteristics:
- Areas of moisture or high humidity (everywhere in Middle Georgia!)
- Areas of high shade (typically northern exposures or under trees)
The good news is that many shingles are now manufactured with an algae inhibitor (typically copper granules) that will help protect your new roof from this fungus for years to come!
Processes and Products – If you haven’t guessed by now, installing a roof system is more than just nailing a bunch of shingles on your roof. How clear is the process that the contractor will use? Will they strip the existing roof shingles? Will they clean up when they are done? What products will be used as underlayment? What will be installed in the valleys? A good contractor will be thorough and explain the entire process.
Warranty – A new roof system should last 20+ years if installed properly. In the last several years, manufacturers and contractors have teamed up to provide warranty programs that can give homeowners security through the life of your new roof. The fact is that roofing problems are rare, but when they occur they can be very difficult and expensive to resolve. A good warranty program should cover both material defects as well as improper installation.
Choosing the Installer:
While much of this article has been focused on the product choices that are available to you when you replace your roof, it is only part of the story. It is just, if not more, important to pick a reputable contractor to install your roof system. When looking for a contractor, here are some factors to consider:
- Proper and Current Insurance Coverage – If you have been on your roof lately, you know that roofing can be a risky business!!! Check with the contractor’s insurance company to make sure they have adequate and current coverage (check for both General Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance).
- Experience / Certification:
- How long has the contractor been in business?
- Does the roofer have any certifications in the roofing industry?
- Payment – Is there a deposit required, or is full payment due at the completion of the project?
- Project Timeline – How long will it take the contractor to complete your roof project?
- Clear Proposal & Contracts – All contracts should be in writing and should clearly describe exactly what will be done.
- Warranty – What kind of warranty does the contractor offer (both for product defects and workmanship)?