Welcome to our blog. This page is important because many people in the roofing business have absolutely no business being in the roofing business. The huge amount of negative customer reviews on the Internet is mind boggling. You need to stay away from these folks (aka Cowboy Roofers*) and know how to get the best roofing job for the best price possible. This blog will help you do that with fun, informative, and educational factoids about all aspects of roofs and roofing.
*Cowboy Roofers are the folks you should avoid hiring because they put their interests above yours and are marginally to moderately skilled at best. Cowboy roofers give a bad name to the roofing trade and worse yet they give a bad name to the large number of quality-oriented roofing contractors out there. Check out our Hall of Shame for examples of what happens when cowboy roofers get on your roof.
If you have a question that you would like SuperRoofer Joe Sardotz to answer in his blog or FAQs, please complete the Ask SuperRoofer form. Visit Joe's Contact page if you would like Joe to provide roof consulting and inspection services for you.
The economy is booming. Record growth. Soaring stock market. Lowest unemployment rate in decades for all demographics. Jobs, manufacturing, consumer confidence, optimism is high.
The construction industry is surging and so is the roofing industry. Many established roofers have told me they anticipate their best year ever. I know a guy who is 1-1/2 years out and isn’t even bidding anymore. You see company trucks on the road and they all have ‘We’re Hiring’ signs on the tailgates. All roofers are slammed, especially the good ones. That’s the good news.
Now, the bad news. Years ago, during the downturn, scores of roofers left the roofing industry and got new jobs. Most lived paycheck to paycheck and had to survive so they sought employment in whatever industry was available. Many of these workers are like Chameleons. They take whatever job they can find. Survival. They are no longer in the roofing industry.
Now that all roofers are hiring they are discovering that experienced, qualified, professional, competent, reliable roofers are almost impossible to find. There are roofing companies that are walking up to roofers on job sites and attempting to lure them away from their present employer and join their firm. Experienced roofers are walking into offices and instead of accepting hourly or piece-work wages they’re demanding 300$ dollars a day. If it’s refused they just go to the next roofer on the list. True story. Thus, roofing companies have no choice and are forced to hire unskilled, green employees - many with minimal or zero roofing experience and putting them in the mix. What will inevitably happen is even a higher degree of shoddy workmanship, leaky roofs, code violations, conflicts between homeowners and roofers, lawsuits, etc. ORC will see a surge in work as will the various courts, CCB mediation folks and construction defect lawyers.
If you are getting bids for a new roof I advise the following :
1) Ask if roofers are employees or subcontractors.
2) Ask if roofers are paid hourly / salary or piecework.
3) Ask if company has qualified lead roofers and/or legitimate quality control.
4) Ask how long your potential roofing crew has been with the company.
By asking these questions you are significantly reducing the possibility of headaches and a bad roof job. In our opinion there are maybe 20 - 25 really good roofers out there. After that it’s the Wild West. A grab bag. Be careful and do your homework!
Sometimes when we discover yet another shoddy cowboy installation the 'roofer' will make desperate attempts to discredit or negate our inspection. Things like, " If you break the seal on the shingles the seal is damaged! ". Not true, After a few warm days they will reseal. Or this one, " If anyone tampers with my install my labor warranty becomes void! ". Not true again. I'm not tampering I am viewing. There is no law or statute that says a homeowner cannot have their roof inspected. Here is one of my favorites, " You're picking my work apart ". No, I am simply exposing your egregious malfeasance and lousy workmanship. You got caught. It's not my fault you're a ripoff roofer.
ORC was hired to inspect a brand new roof in NW Portland and It passed with flying colors! That's two inspections which passed with flying colors in one week! TWO! Most refreshing! It actually (is) possible to install a roof correctly!
There was a solar company attaching brackets to the roof, which had a steep12/12 pitch. I looked at their work area; no scaffolding, no J-hooks with 2X6's, just 2 ropes. Hot day. These guys were working on south facing side, which gets the heat. I knew what I'd see before even climbing the golden ladder, and there they were! Dozens of brand new shingles severely carved up by foot traffic, and these guys were just getting started! Just imagine what the roof shingles would look like when thepanel installation was complete? These shingles were so thrashed they must now be replaced. The homeowner wasn't pleased. The solar company's day was ruined. They packed up and left. Can't come back until the roofer replaces the damaged shingles. He's slammed and on other jobs.
I'm convinced there are hundreds, if not thousands, of roofs that have been damaged by solar installation, as well as other trades' foot traffic, and the homeowners are unaware. Don't have a clue. Can't see it from the ground. Prior to installing solar on a roof precautions must be taken to protect the shingles. Shingles become soft and damage easily in warm / hot weather. Put up scaffolding. Install J hooks, 2X6 toe boards and plywood at the entire work area. This goes for painters, siding installers, chimney companies, anyone whose work requires getting on the roof.
Update - 07/08/2017
Still in progress, roof repaired then the solar guys face nailed their toe boards. Also managed to scar quite a few shingles even when using plywood and toe boards. These guys do not belong on roofs. I can't imagine what they do to roofs where the homeowner doesn't know any better. In any case my roofer has been great, he will be back again the repair the new damage. Frustrating. I will report back when things are all said and done or I run into more problems. Thanks again for the help.
We all know that there is no shortage of dishonest and incompetent roofers. It has recently come to our attention that there are also some wimpy roofers amongst us as well. These 'professional roofers' refuse to install or replace a roof if the roofing materials can't be stocked by the distributor and/or if the dumpster or dump truck can't be set in the driveway next to the house. The thought of packing the materials up a ladder, or dropping the debris on the ground and then handling it a second time to pack it to the dumpster at the curb, terrifies them. Why, back in the day GROTM (Great Roofer On The Mountain) stocked many a roof via a ladder and didn't think twice about packing tons of tearoff debris to a dumpster. These snowflakes are not good representatives of the industry.
With the recent changes in cannibis cultivation laws in Oregon and Washington, it's become more common to see magnificent horticultural masterpieces such as this, which we spotted when we were out inspecting a residential roof.
Before hiring a contractor, ask if their insurance covers shoddy and not-to-code work. They may not even know. Insurance companies - not famous for looking out for the 'little guy' - likely do not cover poor workmanship unless you can prove actual physical damage to your home such as dry rot, mold, water damage, etc. was caused by their client's ineptitude.
Oregon Roof Consulting recently received an official notice from the State of Washington that was sent to all licensed roofers in Washington regarding widespread improper underlayment installation on low slope roofs. This is a nice start. Now, along with Oregon they need to send similar notices regarding proper fastening, proper installation of vents/pipe jacks and other protrusion fixtures, chimney & skylite flashing, proper perimeter and valley flashing installation, etc.
ORC is the only 'independent' in our entire region that does roof certifications. We have done hundreds of them.Oregon Roof Consulting does roof certifications for realtors, home owners, home buyers, banks, FHA, lenders, etc. A certification for 2 years, 3 years, or 3-5 years is a staple of nearly all home sale transactions. Some roofers provide certifications; most don't. If a roofer is on your property for an hour they would rather use that hour trying to sell you a $20,000 roof instead of a certification. ORC has heard from many homeowners that roofing contractors have told them their roof is "shot". Then we get up on the roof, look at it with an unbiased eye, and inform the owners their roof still has 8 or 10 or even 12+ years left. This happens all the time. That's the advantage of having an 'independent' look at the roof. We aren't selling anything, therefore we can afford to be honest.
Example: An established local roofer who provides certifications generally charges $300 up front (non-refundable, of course). If repairs are required, they will certify the roof after the repairs are done and only if they do the repairs. The roofer will also offer a warranty for the length of the certification — for between $1,000 & $4,000. Another roofer wants $200 up front non-refundable and the cost of their certification is 1/4 - 1/5 of the cost of a new roof, which translates into thousands of dollars. When we do a certification it is straight-forward and you do not have to jump through any hoops or take out a second mortgage to pay for it. Certifications provided by ORC (view a sample roof certification from Oregon Roof Consulting ) cost a minimum of $225. Most are at or near this price, depending on the ease of access to the roof and the size of the roof. For long distance jobs driving time is charged (see my fees page). To date, none of ORC's roof certifications have been rejected. A few have been questioned but none rejected. Occasionally a home inspection report will differ from my summary. Home inspectors look at 30-40-50 things. I look at one thing. Most home inspectors have never worked on a roof. Let's just say that we look at a roof from entirely different perspectives.
All shingle manufacturers have regional representatives, and these reps have a variety of duties. They travel a lot. Oregon Roof Consulting (ORC) has personally met five of the six local reps. The sixth one has been phone contact only. I have known a few of these reps for many years. They are all certainly professional and very good at what they do. They represent their employers well.
Recently, a rep who I haven't spoken to in about five years called. We were having a nice conversation when he took an abrupt left turn and proceeded to lecture me about not being as "unbiased" as I claim on my website. What set him off was that he had been told that I had the audacity to tell a client that my personal preferred shingle was not the one he promotes. Now, all shingles are good quality. They must be in order for manufacturers to be competitive and remain in business. In my opinion the install is just as important as the shingle, if not more so. You can have the best shingle obtainable but if it's installed incorrectly then issues will arise.
All shingle manufacturers offer rebates and incentives to contractors who sell their products. They reward contractors who support them and who demonstrate 'distinctness'. At times reps tout roofers who predominantly use their products. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Wink wink, nod nod. This is a long-standing and perfectly fine arrangement. In this regard the reps can be considered 'biased'.
Now, the last time I checked we still had free speech (for the most part) in this country and I am entitled to my opinion, which I occasionally offer to clients for their consideration. How they use my opinion is beyond my control or concern. With 39 years experience as a grunt, installer, contractor, estimator, project manager, and now consultant I feel confident offering people an opinion based on my career experiences, personal anecdotes, and observations.
I explained to this rep that I am indeed biased in some regard, meaning I believe plywood is better than waferboard; tearoff is better than overlay; hand-nailing is more efficient than air guns. Don't put anything rubber or plastic on a roof unless there is no other option. I am completely unbiased in that my reports and advice are not influenced by any outside source. My findings are never automatic and pre-conceived just to please someone. Sometimes people don't like my findings. I stick my neck out for nobody.
In closing, I told the rep that if someone doesn't like how I operate my business or if they object to my website content, they should seek entertainment elsewhere. It's kind of like TV. If you don't like what's on then change the channel.
Direct sun and 80 degrees and above can make shingles more delicate. You can walk on the roof when it's hotter but be careful. Walk gingerly. Don't twist your feet back and forth. In heat, the shingles get soft and damage, scuff, scar more easily. The hotter it gets, the easier it is to damage them.
When roofers roof in hot weather, they should put plywood scraps where they are installing so the new shingles don't get damaged. Move the plywood scraps as you progress on the roof. I used to make a plywood scrap trail from the ladder to the work area and rearrange as necessary. Just takes a minute.
Also if painters or chimney sweeps are on your roof in hot weather, have them put plywood scraps on the shingles by where they are working.
On new construction, you see damaged shingles all the time because the builders always want to get the roof on ASAP so they can begin the interior work. Problem is that the siding and painting and windows and gutters aren't done, so all those trades will be walking on and scuffing the new shingles. It's very common.
How cold is too cold to walk on or work on a roof?
Do it anytime as long as no ice is on the roof.You can walk on frozen shingles, but you can't work with them. Frozen shingles don't cooperate. Too brittle and rigid.
How often should zinc be applied to prevent moss growth?
If you live in a damp climate such as the Pacific Northwest, apply zinc at least once a year; or apply zinc every other or every third time if you perform quarterly gutter and roof maintenance (see next question).
How often should gutter and roof clean-off be performed (gutter and roof maintenance)?
It's a good idea to blow leaves, pine or fir needles, and other debris off the roof and clean out gutters on a quarterly schedule. While you're up on the roof, you also can apply zinc to discourage moss growth (see previous question).
How should downspouts be configured to prevent water from seeping into the foundation?
It's a good idea to divert the water from gutter downspouts out to the yard instead of down into wells right next to your foundation. This will help prevent water from seeping into your foundation.
Residential and commercial roofing project consulting in Oregon; Portland Metro, Oregon; Bend, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Washington State; and the Pacific Northwest area. Offering professional roof consulting, inspections, project monitoring, and certifications for property owners and homeowners.
We accept all major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.