Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Covering the basics when raising the roof

From page C3 | March 21, 2012 | 3 Comments

IF YOUR HOUSE looks like this when it rains, time to call the roofer, or better yet several, for detailed bids. Yes, new roofs are costly, but not fixing one that leaks will cost a lot more. Photo courtesy of Mangostock for

IF YOUR HOUSE looks like this when it rains, time to call the roofer, or better yet several, for detailed bids. Yes, new roofs are costly, but not fixing one that leaks will cost a lot more. Photo courtesy of Mangostock for

“Mom, there’s ceiling in my soup.”

“Eat it,” I tell my daughter. “It’s fiber.”

The sky, or in this case, our roof, had been falling all week. I was trying to brush this off because I felt the situation reflected poorly on my parenting.

At my core, I believe parents should keep a roof over their children’s heads. I was failing.

The house in which my daughter and I live — not to be confused with my house, which it isn’t, and certainly not my home, which is a highly fluid concept for me these days — is getting a new roof. The roof was not my idea. In the year I’ve lived here I never once pulled up to the house and thought, “Good heavens, that roof is a disgrace.” It looked fine.

However, the longer I live the more I realize that what I think doesn’t matter. Who am I? I just live in a house some bank owns that I rent-slash-stage to make look desirable until someone buys it. And that just happened.

Apparently, as the buyer, broker and bank banged out the deal a new roof got factored in.

“Can we live in the house while they do this?” I asked my property manager, when she told me the news.

“No problem,” she assured. “People live through it all the time.”

Living, I’ve also learned, is one of those highly relative terms subject to interpretation.

Now the roof is off. And the two-day (bahahahaa!) project is going on three and is only halfway done. The roofing company blames the “steep slope of the roof,” which is just so feeble. I mean the slope of the roof hasn’t changed since they bid the job.

A Dumpster the size of a train car is in my driveway. We park on the street all week. The beach towels we’ve spread under skylights to collect falling debris don’t catch half of it. Vacuuming is futile because every day the ceiling rains shrapnel.

And here it is Saturday, our only day to sleep in. We wake at dawn to the thumping of heavy boots on the roof and to strange men on ladders lurking out our windows, which is another threat I feel parents should protect their children from. I am falling short, I tell you.

Wham. Pound. Stomp. Kerplunk.

Still, my chin remains resolutely up, as I show my daughter how to take life’s many inconveniences — men on the roof, drywall in soup — in stride.

Although roofs fall under that essential category of food, shelter and good parenting, I can’t think of many home improvements that are less exciting, save for maybe new sewage lines.

“That’s why the roof is the most ignored of all home improvements,” says Joan Crowe, spokeswoman for the National Roofing Contractors Association “It doesn’t bring that big reward. You’re not going to notice it much.”

“Except when it’s going on,” I say.

“Usually people can live through it,” she says.

“You think I’m overreacting?” This would not be a first.

“You should not have drywall in your soup,” she adds.

Case closed.

If your house needs a new roof, here’s how Crowe says to go about getting the right one over your head.

When to replace. Roofs provide looks and function. If yours leaks (signs include water stains on the ceiling and bubbling plaster) or starts looking as weathered as the Roman ruins, it may be time.

Replace, repair or recover. Replacing a roof is the surest way to get a consistent looking, well-sealed covering. A patch may solve the problem for a lot less money and buy you time; however, matching new roofing materials to old is almost impossible. Recovering a roof, where workers lay new roofing material over an existing roof, saves the cost of roof removal, but usually can only be done once.

Find a reputable roofer. Beware of storm chasers, warns Crowe. “They pull up in trucks after big storms and offer to replace your roof for a suspiciously low price.” You want an established company with a permanent address, a license to do the work, and proper insurance. Ask to see it.

Get several detailed bids. “Be wary of one-lump sums,” said Crowe. Ask for a breakdown. For instance, see if the price includes all-new flashing, or if the old flashing will be re-used.

Choose the right stuff. When choosing new roof material, go with what you have. Whoever designed your house probably chose the right material for the home’s architectural style and location. Three out of four U.S. roofs are asphalt shingle, which last around 20 years. Wood roofs made of shingle (machine cut) or shake (hand cut) last longer, and are common in California, the Northwest, and the Midwest. Tile or clay roofs top Mediterranean style homes, common in the Southwest and Florida. Slate roofs, common in the Northeast, last longest — more than 50 years — and are most expensive.

See a sample. Before work begins, get a large sample of the material the roofer plans to use. “A common complaint we hear,” said Crowe, “is we ordered gray and got black.” Ask for a brochure featuring pictures of homes with roofs in that material.

Be sure you’re covered. Ask what warranty will be provided on both the material and the workmanship. Also be sure the contractor is approved by the material manufacturer to apply the product. Not all roofing companies are certified to apply all types of roofs.

Do your research. The NRCA Website,, is a good consumer resource and will field homeowner’s roofing questions.

Get out. Forget what they tell you about living through the project.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through


Discussion | 3 comments

  • Straight Line ConstructionMarch 17, 2012 - 11:43 am

    Ms. Jameson highlights very important steps to replacing your roof. Although it is replaced quickly, you want it to perform worry-free for a lifetime! To learn about additional questions you should ask, visit our showroom! Ask us how we replace your roof in 2 DAYS!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Jim BannistreMarch 21, 2012 - 4:15 pm

    It is very important for me to trust that my contractor conducts himself honestly and ethically. After seeing your company attempt to exploit a non-commercial forum, the Comments section, in order to garner some free advertising, I would never use your services and will also discourage others from doing so. How can I believe that you will treat me fairly after seeing that you do your business this way?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • winonaApril 19, 2012 - 9:48 am

    roof is the covering of your building at the uppermost point. Its purpose is to protect the building and all items inside from weather. Each roof is constructed differently dependent upon materials used and building purpose. In order to raise your roof to increase your building square footage you will need construction permits. Often a roof is raised to add bedrooms or office space in a home. homes for sale irvine

    Reply | Report abusive comment


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