When the unfortunate time comes that your home has sustained damage from a catastrophic event the last thing you want to worry about is what contractor you need to use. “Every contractor is equal…right?” Absolutely not! Your carrier may tell you that they want you to get three bids from contractors so that you get the best pricing but there are dangers to getting three bids in an effort to find the lowest cost.
Much like shopping for a car, there are different price ranges and different quality vehicles to choose from. Your least expensive option will always be a used vehicle with lots of miles on it. You will spend the least amount up front; however, you also need to be aware of the risk you are taking under the hood. Your next option may be a new car with a few bells and whistles, like a Kia or Toyota. These cars are fairly reliable and with low miles, you know you can go for quite some time without any major repair investments. You also are not compromising the safety of your family.
Your third option is to go with a high-end model, like a new BMW or Lexus. These vehicles have just about anything you could ask for and are highly reliable. You buy them for the peace of mind that your family will be safe, and that you won’t need to worry about major repairs or breakdowns for a very long time. You know that no corners have been cut and only the best materials have been used.
Roofing and restoration work on your home should be viewed in the same way. Whether you are paying cash for a new roof or going through an insurance claim, it is very important to go with a contractor who is using the best materials and is following all the building codes in your area. Your home is your most important asset, so why cut corners that could cost you more down the line? There are many contractors out there who will give you the cheapest bid so they can win your business, but beware of steps in the process they may be leaving out to cut costs so they still make a profit off of the low bid they gave you to win the job.
Homeowners in Florida need to be especially vigilant in finding the correct contractor because the building codes in our state are so much more stringent than in other places due to the wind storms we get each year. Unscrupulous contractors will cut corners you may not even know about in an effort to cut costs for themselves.
Here is a short list of items to make sure your contractor is putting on his or her bid to make sure they are giving you a complete roof system:
* Roofing cement under and on top of all metal going on your roof. Wind rating requirements in Florida demand additional precautions be made when adding items like drip edge and flashing to your roof. In other states, contractors need only nail these items into your roof deck. In Florida, these items must be sealed down with a layer of roofing cement, then nailed into the roof deck, only to be followed by another layer of roofing cement to ensure it is secured properly during a wind event.
* Nails being spaced every 4” along your drip edge. This step is unique to Florida as well. In most other states, the requirement issued by the International Building Code is a nail every 12” of drip edge. Again, due to Florida’s unique wind requirements, the requirement calls for 3 times more nails to go into the drip edge to make sure it is properly secured to the roof deck.
* 6 nails per shingle. Florida’s wind rating requirement also covers the issue of shingles being properly secured to the roof deck. In places with less aggressive wind patterns, contractors are only required to put 4 nails per shingle, but Florida requires the additional coverage of 6 nails per shingle.
* Proper ridge cap. Years ago, it was acceptable in the roofing industry to cut up 3-tab shingles and use them as ridge cap; however, most roofing material manufacturers will no longer warranty a roof with cut-up 3-tab shingles used on the ridge and hips of a roof. This is because there is now a material specifically made for ridge caps that is a superior product to the old 3-tab shingle used in the past.
* Starter strip. Much like ridge cap, contractors used to be able to flip the shingle upside down and use the nailing strip as the initial strip along the perimeter of the roof. These upside-down shingles would be used as the starting point for nailing down all shingles going up the slopes of the roof. Flipping the shingle upside down creates negative space under the next row of shingles, especially on roofs that are using architectural shingles, which allows for wind driven rain to be blown up underneath. This constant bombardment of water under the shingles will eventually lead to the rotting of your roof deck and will cause a leak in your roof system.
These items, along with others, are all necessary to put on a warrantable, complete roof system on your home. They also add to the price in a bid given to you by a contractor. If you don’t see these items on your bid, you need to ask yourself if they are being done at all, or if these are the corners being cut to save on cost incurred by the contractor who wrote your bid. Taking the least expensive option could cost you so much more in the long run. Make sure you are choosing your contractor on their reputation, workmanship, and reviews – not just on which one has the cheapest bid. You may be paying a much steeper price later on.
An estimate should be written with descriptions of why the line items were added in to begin with, including appropriate codes.