Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I know when it's time for a new roof?
There are many signs of impending roof failure. In general, it’s inadvisable to wait until your roof leaks before you replace it. Water intrusion can cause expensive problems including mold/mildew, dry rot, and peeling paint. An obviously worn composition roof has shingles that appear to be losing their granules, curling, or cracking. Excessive granule loss found in the rain gutters signifies a concern. A shake or cedar shingle roof that is showing cracks, curls, and separations signifies a roof in need of assessment. Calling a professional to give you an idea of what might be going on can help you determine your best course of action. When needing a professional assessment, sometimes it makes sense to call more than one company. Unfortunately in the roofing industry, roofing contractors with empty schedules may recommend roof replacement more readily than a contractor with plenty of work.
How do I choose a contractor?
The standard answer to this can be found on many websites and includes things like calling the Better Business Bureau, checking a contractor’s license, and getting references. The reality of this is that most reputable contractors can pay the Better Business Bureau or whatever trade association (NRCA is one) the five hundred or so dollars it costs per year to be listed with them, and unfortunately any contractor in business for more than five minutes can give you his mother and his brother’s phone number as a reference. It is ALWAYS necessary to check a contractor’s license with your local licensing agency to be sure the license is in force and up-to-date (in Oregon, the licensing agency is the Construction Contractors Board). But after that, there’s an answer that can be consistently more reliable than references and trade associations: Ask around. Ask your co-workers, ask your neighbors, and ask your friends about their experience with various contractors in your local area. Ask what other people have heard about contractors you’re considering. Were they happy? What did they like about their contractor? What didn’t they like? Did the contractor stick to the contracted price, and if not, how much over the contracted price did they go? Why? Examine your estimates and consider how you felt about each contractor’s presentation. Are you comfortable with your contractor? Do you feel as if you could ask your contractor any question or present any concern and be heard? Is your prospective contractor easy to reach when you have questions? Is their estimate clear and specific, and does it seem to compare similarly with the other estimates you’re considering? Roofing is shockingly expensive, and making sure you get the reputable, licensed contractor that best fits your needs can save heartache and many thousands of dollars in improperly-performed installation.
Q: My neighbor's son/brother/cousin used to be a roofer and will do it cheaper by half. Why hire a pro?
It is actually illegal to hire an unlicensed contractor in Oregon. If caught, the person performing the work will pay a substantial fine. If anyone is hurt while working on the roof, the homeowner can be sued. If the roofing material is not installed by a licensed contractor, the manufacturers’ materials warranty may be void. Improper installation can also result in an underperforming or non-performing product, and the reputable licensed contractors in our area see these problems on a regular basis. Perhaps one of the biggest disadvantages to hiring an unlicensed contractor is that if there is a dispute or other problem, the homeowner has no recourse. In a dispute or situation of substandard workmanship with a licensed contractor, an Oregon homeowner has the ability to go to the Oregon Construction Contractors Board for help. The CCB assists consumers in resolving disputes and recovering damages from a contractor’s bond. There is no assistance whatsoever from the CCB for homeowners who hire an unlicensed person to work on their home.
I'm looking at several bids. How do I go about comparing them?
When evaluating estimates, you’re evaluating three things: The labor and materials provided for the specified price, and the contractor providing the work. A complete estimate should have a description of the scope of work to be performed, a description of the materials to be used, a description of any warranty offered, and a total price. Compare the description of work to be performed. If there are differences in description (for instance, one says “tear-off old roof” and one does not), you may want to ask for further clarification. Compare the materials to be used. Each roofing component has variable brands, quality levels and prices. If one bid is little cheaper than the next bid, you may be getting lesser-quality materials or fewer materials.
I see many components listed on my bid. What are these things and what are they for?
  • Valley flashing / W-valley: Valley flashing is a 24-inch wide piece of metal with a one-inch rib in the middle. This piece goes under the shingles in an area where two roofs coming from different directions meet. The metal is exposed for a few inches to carry the water, much like a gutter. The center of the valley area carries more water than any other place on the roof. Although a valley can be roofed several different ways, one of the common names for a valley that is roofed without metal valley flashing is “California-style valley”. A California-style valley is within industry standard. However, it has been our experience that in the Pacific Northwest having correctly-installed valley flashing adds a significant amount of protection to the vulnerable valley area.
  • Pipe flashing / pipe jack / plumbing boots / plumbing vent: All roofs have penetrations that service the home below. The protective pieces that keep water from coming through these penetrations are called pipe flashings, pipe jacks, plumbing boots, or plumbing vents. There are numerous styles of these flashings, and numerous ways to install flashings. In most cases, on most roofs, these flashings will be metal, neoprene, or plastic. The difference matters because each flashing has a different lifespan. UV rays will deteriorate neoprene and plastic, while painted metal or lead is not known to have this issue.
  • Drip flashing / edge flashing / gable flashing: Drip flashing is a piece of metal that goes under the shingles to protect the exposed edge of the wooden roof deck. It may also help direct water into the gutter in some cases.
  • Vents / vent flashing: All homes must have ventilation to eliminate dead air space. Dead air space can cause mold, dry rot, and roofing shingle breakdown due to unventilated heat. Vents and vent flashings protect the roof vent penetration from water intrusion. Vents and vent flashings can be either metal or plastic. Plastic can be deteriorated by UV rays, while that issue is not seen with metal. Metal is also recyclable.
  • Continuous ridge vent / Vent-a-ridge: Continuous ridge vent takes the place of vents and vent flashing. It is an additional, almost invisible piece that is installed at the peak or ridgeline of the roof under the ridge cap shingles. It is often used for aesthetic purposes as it eliminates the metal vents that would otherwise be present. It is also used when traditional vents and flashings won’t work, such as above a vaulted ceiling.
  • Felt / Underlayment / Vapor barrier: This is a vapor barrier that goes on top of the roof deck but under the shingles. It protects the roof deck from the elements during the roofing process. Its other purpose is to provide a moisture barrier that keeps the water vapor produced by all homes from affecting the shingles, until the vapor has a chance to escape out the ventilation penetrations. Underlayment comes in many weights and types, and is an upgradable or downgradable accessory.
If I want my roof done in August, when should I start calling for bids?
Start calling in May, June at the latest. Once we get into the month of July, reputable roofing contractors fill their schedules quickly. It’s quite possible at any time of year for a roofing contractor to book three weeks worth of work in one or two days. Reputable contractors in our area are both able and willing to perform roofing work during the entire calendar year.
When will my roof be started, and how long will it take?
It depends on several things. The time it takes to roof or reroof your home is based on how big it is. Most residential roof projects are 2-3 day jobs. Since this can vary, ask prospective contractors how long your project is likely to take. When your roof can be done depends on the weather and where you are in queue. At Renaissance Roofing, Inc. we do our best to follow the “first-come, first-served” approach, but Oregon weather definitely gets to make the final determination. After we get a signed contract and deposit from you, we will add you to our queue and give you our best guess of when you can expect your project to start. You can call us at any time to ask about the schedule.
Can I tear off and dispose of my own old roof?
You can. If this is something you want to do, it’s important to understand that roofing technicians are in excellent physical condition. They also are acclimated to the weather in all seasons. This allows them to work very quickly and with forethought during the rainy season, and it allows them to work consistently and safely during the summer season. It is hotter on the roof than it is on the ground, sometimes by about ten degrees F in the summer (due to the heat absorbed by the asphalt shingles). Roofing technicians have safety equipment that protects them from falling. Consider how you will protect yourself from falling, and where and how you’re going to dispose of the debris. If you decide to attempt this, be sure you are on your roofing contractor’s schedule for putting the new roof on as soon as you are done tearing the old roof off. If it rains and you don’t have any protection except the bare wood, you’ll most likely be taking a shower in your living room.
Do I have to be home during the roofing process?
No. We do need to be able to reach you by phone if we find anything unexpected during your project. We may ask you for access to an electrical outlet. We do have generators if we cannot obtain access to an outlet, but they are quite noisy and often disturbing to the neighbors. At Renaissance Roofing, Inc. we wish to minimize disturbance to both you and to your neighborhood.
How do I prevent moss on my roof?
You may hear contractors suggest zinc or copper strip at the peak of the roof. It has been our experience that, in the Pacific Northwest, zinc and copper strips are great for preventing moss for the first few feet of roofing below the strip itself, but have limited usefulness beyond that. Annual treatment is a very effective way to keep moss from growing. Treatments can be applied by a homeowner. If you don’t want to or can’t do it yourself, Renaissance Roofing Inc. offers an annual maintenance service that includes gutter cleaning, moss treatment, roof cleaning, skylight cleaning, and roof evaluation. If you are interested in this service, we are happy to provide an estimate.