The roof is one of the most important structures of your home. It’s something that protects you from all the harsh elements and gives you shelter. Unfortunately, it’s also a structure that most people know little about. Homeowners usually trust contractors to know what they’re doing. They put a lot of effort into finding the right contractor, and generally assume that they can sit back and relax while the project takes place.
Roofing systems are designed to endure a lot of abuse but they need to be installed properly to be truly efficient. Unfortunately, more often than not, contractors aren’t diligent enough and don’t pay close attention to roofing regulations.
Here are some things that your contractor might be overlooking:
There are several building codes that explain the safety standards and precautions for roofing. It’s a good idea to ask the contractor whether he follows the code’s guidelines when he installs the roof. Most roofing contractors follow the International Building Code.
These codes are very comprehensive and it can be a little difficult to judge what applies to your situation. Nevertheless, your roof is an investment of several thousand dollars, it pays to do your research and ask the right questions. Questions that will let you know if the roofing contractor knows the code well and intends to follow it.
Keeping Environmental Conditions in Mind
As we mentioned before, environmental factors usually affect roofs more than any other structure in your home. It’s vital to ensure that the roof is resilient enough to bear the changing environment. For example, roofing contractors in the colder states need to follow different regulations than those in areas with warmer temperatures.
People in California might not need to think about heavy snowfall and harsh winters while people in Boston would need to. You need to ask your contractor if he’s aware of all the code requirements for particular environmental conditions of your area.
Some contractors might go overboard and install a full, winter-ready roof in a place that has never seen snowfall. There are several things he might need to keep in mind, including the following:
- Temperature range
- Temperature Changes
- Exposure to UV rays
- Snow load
- Salt water exposure
All these factors can impact the health of your roof. If the contractor doesn’t take note of these aspects and isn’t aware of them when you ask, it can be a problem.
This is one of the most overlooked requirements and can have serious repercussions. All building codes and manufacturers’ instructions explicitly state that eaves protection is to be provided to all shingle, tile, or shake roofs. This protection should be applied from the edge of the roof to at least 900mm or 36 inches up the roof slope.
It should also extend to a line at least 200mm or 12 inches inside the interior face of your exterior wall. This water and ice shield should be either No.15 felt or something similar. This is vital to keep your home watertight and prevent excess moisture. Contractors should offer this and anything else that says ‘eaves protection isn’t required’ isn’t following the building code or roofing regulations.
Most people are aware that flashings are vital to protect their home from moisture, leaks, and other such problems. By code requirements, the intersections of walls, chimneys, and roofs need to be covered in metal flashings. It’s vital to add step or counter flashings to the tricky areas instead of just sealing them with tar or sealants.
The flashings must be of good quality as well. Manufacturers will strongly discourage reuse or old flashings as they don’t seal properly. So if your contractor recommends reusing or even omitting flashings in an effort to save time and money, he’s violating the code.
Proper roof ventilation is absolutely essential to ensure overall roof health. This is especially vital in colder climates that experience harsh winters. According to experienced roofers, you need approximately 1sqft of ventilation for every 300sqft. It’s not a good idea to add excess ventilation, which can compromise the integrity of your roof.
It’s also not a good idea to add very little ventilation, as that might lead to problems like ice dams and leakages. According to roofing regulations, a properly ventilated roof is absolutely essential and you should ensure that your roofing contractor offers one.
Roofing insulation is a matter that needs to be considered seriously. Usually, the R-value of the insulating materials is the primary deciding factor. Some contractors disregard roofing insulation and focus on attic insulation. That would only increase your energy bills and also contribute to ice dams and leakage problems during winter.
However, even if the insulation is installed, it should be the right insulation. The contractor needs to consider the local code regulations for fire and take the International Energy Conversation Code into account. The code lists the R-values required in different geographical areas so you can check whether the material you use has the specified R-value. The contractor also needs to know whether the roofing material is compatible with the insulation.
Something as simple as nails can affect its lifespan and lead to problems. While most roofing contractors use the right kind of nails and make sure to hammer them in properly, some might cut corners here. According to code, the nails should be resistant to corrosion and penetrate deep enough into the roof surface.
Heat and cold has the tendency to expand and contract several substances. These include metal, concrete, plastic, glass, etc. Unsurprisingly, this affects your entire home including the roof. It’s a good idea to find solutions that keep the roof temperatures moderate.
By doing that, you can reduce the stress the roof faces when the outside environment changes. You need to ask whether the contractors are aware of this effect and how they address it. Most contractors will apply surface minerals or reflective coatings to keep the roof cool.
If you keep these points in mind when you discuss your roof installation with your contractor, you’ll have a good quality roof that will last for a long time.