What is a Roofing Contractor?
Roofing Contractors are the professionals to call when you need repairs or evaluation of your roof, chimney stacks or gutters. You might consider taking om the project yourself, but it can be dangerous work and so hiring a roofer is often the best solution.
Why is Roofing important?
Keeping your roof and guttering in good condition is very important. It is your property’s main defence against the elements, and a very important part of its overall value. Neglecting your roof will cause damp conditions that will quickly bring about decay and expensive structural damage, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry! We usually think of calling a roofing contractor when we notice a leak in the ceiling or some missing tiles, but they can also be hired to provide many other services.
- Slating: Replacing slates is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of roofing. But, slates don’t always need to be replaced. Sometimes they slip because of damage to the nails that hold them to the roof. When this happens, a roofer can easily salvage them. You should consider this alternative in particular if your property is listed and you’d like to keep as much of the original look as possible.
- Tiling: Replacing wooden or clay tiles is specialised work, best left to a professional roofer. Red clay tiles in particular are fragile, and you might end up ruining more tiles than you intended to replace!
- Insulation: One of the most important aspects of your roof is its insulation. Make sure yours is in good condition by having a roofing contractor inspect it regularly, for example, every two years.
- Felting: Modern flat roofs are waterproofed with felts, which are rolls of cellulose fibre material usually backed with bitumen (a tar or asphalt material), or polymer (high performance = higher price). This backing is melted on-site with a flame torch.
- Leadwork: Waterproofing with lead or copper rolls. Not often seen in family homes, more commonly used in large public buildings such as schools and churches.
- Gutters: Although regular gutter maintenance work can be a DIY project, a roofer would have safe ladders and other equipment, and would also point out any need for maintenance or repairs. Use ladders safely: rest the ladder against a solid surface (never against weak structures such as gutters) and always work with someone nearby. For more info on safe ladder use, see this site
- Chimney Stacks: Roofers are qualified to perform removal, repair and restoration of chimney stacks and parapet walls.
- Specialities: Some Roofing Contractors can perform special services such as installing roof gardens or bird guards.
Which is the best roofing material for my needs?
Some materials are quite low-cost but need reinstalling more often, whereas others may be more expensive but will last the life of the property. The best quality slate can last more than 100 years. A man-made material like asphalt felt will usually last only lasts about 20 years, but when worn is easily replaced.
Other aspects you might want to consider are the insulating efficiency of the material and its environmental impact. In this latter aspect, wooden tiles are one of the best choices because they are completely biodegradable. Although lifespan is not great – about 15 years – it is a relatively low-cost roofing material, especially if sourced locally.
How do I choose a Roofing Contractor?
One of the best places to start looking is our Pros Directory which lists proven property professionals from all over the U.K. Always make sure the roofing contractor you hire is registered (see ‘Questions’ section). Consider at least three estimates from three different contractors before choosing one. This is the recommended approach when choosing any property professional or contractor.
Weeding out the cowboys, or how to spot a dishonest contractor
It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: Hiring a contractor that seemed capable on first impression, only to have him/her make a mess of your beautiful home through lack of skill! Luckily, your best protection against this disappointment is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Ask friends, family or neighbours for recommendations (or warnings!) regarding local contractors.
Ask them if the work was completed in schedule and within budget. Also, you can ask the prospective contractor for a portfolio of references and photos of their work. Any good contractor will be happy to show you these. If they’re not, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. A list of costumer’s addresses would also be helpful, as you could personally see the work.
What to look out for
- Commonly used ‘sales pitches’: Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is. Be especially aware of very low initial estimates.
- Door knockers: Never hire a contractor that offers his/her services door-to-door.
- Pointing out fictional problems: View descriptions of awful or very complicated problems with suspicion; if you can’t easily find about it online it’s probably not true. This is another good reason why you should consider more than one estimate (ideally, three or more).
- “It’s Urgent!”: Undue stress of this point is always a bad sign. An honest contractor will not pressure you into making a decision.
Pricing and Costs
Pricing for roofing jobs depends on the extent and complexity of the job and on the materials used. For example, imported slate is very expensive, but locally sourced slate can be more economical, and manufactured slating, like fibre cement, can be cheaper still. No matter which roofing material you choose, always consider at least three written quotes (never verbal!) before settling on a roofing contractor. Most professionals will produce a quote within 2 or 3 days.
Questions to ask your Roofing Contractor?
- Are you a registered Trade Member?
- What type of insurance do you have? What does it cover?
- Do you charge for estimates and quotes?