If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped?
1 Peter 3:13
When we bought our house, coming up on two years ago (!), we had to have it inspected. And good thing, too, because the home inspector had the eyes of a hawk. One of the things he warned us about was the roof. It would require replacing within five years, he said, and it looked pretty worn. Replacing it sooner rather than later would be wise. The house was built in 1994, almost 20 years ago, and the original roofing material was, shall we say, not top-notch.
We’re finding any number of things where the original contractors cut corners, actually, but that’s a different story.
In this story, our gutters don’t work very well. We notice this some time ago. A gutter far out of reach, 25′ off the ground, started coming away from the house, dumping water directly onto our porch (which needs finishing; like I said…). The gutters at the front of the house channeled water onto the porch to drip, stream, or pour, depending on the rain volume, on unsuspecting victims waiting to come in. Unfortunately, things like this do not resolve themselves. In fact, the longer we ignore them, the worse they get.
Click under the fold to get the whole rest of the roofing story — not real exciting, but something that’s taken significant time and thought the last month or so.
Finally, it snowed. The snow melted. Oceans of water poured off our roof onto the front porch (and, via the incorrectly-poured cement, into the garage; yet another story) and the back porch, making a ridiculously loud racket. I finally had had it. We had a serious conversation about it, and I received the official family mandate to investigate gutter-fixing companies, and, while I was at it, roofing companies. Might as well do it all at once, we figured.
Thus I began doing research. I started with the goal of finding a company that would both fix our gutters and replace the roof, since I didn’t want to go through the pain of hiring contractors any more than necessary. Fortunately, the Internet has a plethora of sites devoted to rating such things as roofing companies. Having had an unfortunate experience in appliance shopping because of ignoring Better Business Bureau ratings, I started with the BBB. Then I cross-researched a few of the A+ rated companies on other websites where people rate their experiences, and I ended up with four roofing companies:
Alpine Roof Care
Cornerstone Roofing, Inc.
Another one I’m forgetting
They all offered free estimates, so I filled out their online forms and waited to see what would happen. What happened was that within an hour, one of the companies had called to set up an appointment for one of their estimators to look at the roof. Shortly thereafter, the other two companies whose names I remember had contacted me by phone or email, also to set up times. The fourth company we never heard back from, which made it easy to decide on them.
The other three came out over the course of the next few days. Within a week we had estimates from all three of them, and all the estimates came in close to one another. This necessitated another round of Internet research on my part, as I’d never heard of CDX vs. OSB plywood, underlayment, hood/box vents vs. ridge vents, 15-lb vs. 30-lb felt (or felt in that context at all), all-new gutters or just repairs, and so forth. The most comprehensive estimate included diagrams of our roof, photos with notes digitally added, and two different levels of estimate with three options per level.
It was all very confusing, so we went to Hawaii and I didn’t worry about it.
The confusingness had not abated when we got back, but I did feel ready to tackle it again. Between several phone conversations with one of the bidders, a two-hour-long in-person meeting with another bidder, and hours of research, I learned enough about roofs to report back to Ian explanations that would allow us to make our decisions. And the trick was that we had a lot of decisions to make: Not just which company to go with, but the specific, detailed scope of work. Fortunately, after all these hours of learning about roofs, I at least knew enough to ask the right questions when I talked with experts, so in the end we made what I believe are some fairly reasonable, well-informed decisions about what to do with our roof and gutters.
Choosing the company proved difficult, too, as two of the companies proved very persistent in their pursuit of the contract. They called or emailed regularly, and spent many hours educating me about roofing. Their bids came in close enough to one another that we couldn’t choose by price. They both had excellent reviews and provided lots of positive references. They both were licensed and bonded, and had the insurance coverage necessary to let us feel confident with having their guys on our roof.
In the end, Ian let me decide, and I went based on my gut feel. Cornerstone Roofing just had the right feel to me: Professional, responsive, knowledgeable. We have some Homeowners Association hoops to jump through before we can do the work, but I am confident that we’re getting a roof that will last, possibly longer than we own the home. And some time in the next month or so, we’ll have dealt with at least one major expense before the baby comes. That’s a relief.
So that’s one decision made. Now we just have to deal with the rot and water seepage in the garage, the incorrectly-installed front steps, the non-venting fan over the stove, the unfinished porch, the in-progress rain garden and accompanying huge pile of dirt in the side yard… Welcome to owning a home.