Archive for September, 2011

No Shingles for Historic Home

Whether the home owner likes it or not says the south Norfolk Virginia Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board and the Norfolk City Council.

The 106 year old historic house is owned by Justin Loar and is need of a new roof.  The visibly rusted metal roof is currently being covered by a blue tarp. The boards were unanimous in its decision that the historic home will either get a new metal roof or keep the one it has now.

The homeowner petitioned to replace the roof with asphalt shingles due to the expense of a new metal one at $16,000.   Loar said he didn’t know about the guidelines and does not want to take out a second mortgage on a roof that will cost more than what the house is worth.

The City Council claims there is only a $60 difference between a new shingle roof and repairing the metal roof. The owner and his representative, dispute those quotes saying they have been unable to find a contractor willing to repair the metal roof for that cost.

Some residents say the Historic Preservation Board is trying to maintain the historic value of the neighborhood, while others say the area is run down and owners shouldn’t have such strict restrictions when trying to upgrade the homes.


Choosing The Right Roof Material

roofing tipsAs homeowners, we take pride in the look of our homes. We cut the grass, trim the hedges, sweep the driveway and touch up the paint around the outside of the home. So why are many of us not taking the time to pick the right roof material for our home?

The roof is one of the largest structures of our home and it should be kept in good condition, just like any other part of the home.

When it comes to roof repair or replacement, many people spend less than 15 minutes choosing which roof material is best for their home.

There are many different types of roof materials, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. When considering which roof material would look best for your new roof, consider the following:

The style of your home

The style of your home says a lot about its features, the time period in which it was built and the overall appeal of the home. If you live in a Spanish style home, an earth tone, clay tile would be a great option to match the home’s style. A Victorian or Colonial style home would look great with a dark colored slate tile or metal roof. The idea is to match the home’s color palate while also adhering to the design features of the home.

The statement you want to make

With so many new roof materials available, many people are tempted to upgrade their roof using more modern materials. In general, using upgraded materials is a good choice and can even increase the value of your home. However, consider the re-sale value of the roof material you choose. Don’t over personalize your roof, making it hard for potential buyers to see your vision or agree with your design taste down the road. If you aren’t sure about your choice, ask your neighbor’s opinion.

The quality you are looking for

Many roof materials now come in various levels of quality. Composite asphalt shingles come in many varieties, each with different levels of durability and warranties. A higher quality roof material may cost you a little more, but can save you money down the road by requiring less repairs and even save you money by making your home more energy efficient. Solar panels and recycled roof materials are high quality roof products that can improve the energy efficiency of your home, while helping the environment.

Church Roof Deemed Un-Repairable

A 98 year old church is scheduled to be torn down at the end of September in Clinton Massachusetts.  The former Our Lady of Jasna Gora church on Franklin Street is deteriorating and damaged.  The Roman Catholic Church was built in 1913 and designated for Polish immigrants.

The distinctive roof design would be difficult to repair and costly to replace. A large stained glass window directly under the roof is making it challenging and expensive to fix . “It’s a very unusual building, and it would be a very difficult roof to repair because of its unique architecture,” said Monsignor Thomas J. Sullivan, chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Worcester.

The church was last used by the Catholic Church for Mass in 2010.  The adjacent school, St. Mary’s Elementary was closed in 2009.

The church has been up for sale, but so far no one has been willing to pay the $300,000 for the building. Once the church is torn down, the cost of the property will be less and they are hoping to be able to sell the school, rectory and recreation building.



Arkansas Passes Law To Protect Homeowners From Repair Scams

roof repairHaving your home repaired or remodeled can be a stressful process. Whether your home is in need of roof repair or interior remodeling, choosing the right contractor can be overwhelming. Homeowners trust their contractor will do a honest job and perform the work as intended. Unfortunately, many homeowners have fallen victim to non-reputable contractors and were left with poor work that only cost them more money in the end.

Laying Down The Law

While there are many professional and legitimate contractors in operation, there are many more unscrupulous companies lurking around the corner. For homeowners, deciphering which contractor is best for the job can be difficult. In an effort to protect Arkansas homeowners, the state has passed a new law to assist homeowners in the home repair process.

As of January 1, 2012, the state of Arkansas will require any construction or remodeling over $2,000 to be completed by  a state licensed contractor. In the past, the limit was $20,000, which left ample room for unlicensed contractors to take on projects they may not have been qualified for. The law will also prevent contractors from completing jobs in stages or under separate contracts of work for a single job to get around the license requirement.

The state is offering an opportunity for unlicensed contractors to obtain the necessary credentials based on their amount of experience, level of ability and performance reviews completed by previous customers. The state’s Residential Building Contractors Committee is charged with the responsibility of administering new licenses, reviewing existing licenses and implementing penalties for violations of the new law. The committee hopes that by offering unlicensed contractors an opportunity to obtain their credentials through a monitored avenue, all scammers and non-reputable repair contractors will be weeded out in the process.




White Roof Codes

Some states already have codes in place for implementing the cooler white roofs on commercial buildings. White roofs stay cool in the sun by minimizing the sun’s absorption and maximizing thermal emission and are considered “cool roofs”. The light colored reflective roofs bounce sunlight back and reduce the urban heat-island effect.

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are advocating light roofing materials in building codes. Not only do the light roofs cut heat that is absorbed into the building but it also cuts carbon emissions by reducing air-condition use. The scientists’ calculated one average size house emits 10 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Building Codes

Since 1999 several widely used building standard codes have adopted cool roof credits or requirements. In 2005 California building code Title 24 was enacted to require modified flat roofs to be white or light in color. That law was updated in 2008 to include residential sloped roofs in California’s 5 hottest zones. Several US cities and Arizona, Hawaii, Georgia and Florida have similar building codes.

According to Global Cool Cities Alliance, for the first time in human history over half the world’s population lives in urban areas. Most roofing materials are dark and typically absorb over 80% of incoming sunlight, converting it into heat. Cool roofs transfer less heat to the environment, resulting in a decrease in the outside air temperature creating cooler and cleaner city air.

Inspect Your Roof after a Storm

The recent hurricane and storms on the east coast remind us that our roofs should be inspected after each heavy rain and storm.  Small leaks can turn into big problems; it’s cheaper and easier to fix a few missing shingles or bent flashing now than replacing your whole roof and deck later.

Check for Damage

Stains on your drywall are a good indicator that your roof may be leaking.  Check your yard for any roofing nails or shingles that may have blown off during the storm.  Standing in your yard with binoculars or safely on a ladder, check for missing shingles or missing or bent flashings on your roof.

Although your roof may be guaranteed to last 20 years, your flashings and rubber flanges should be replaced after approximately 7 years.  Leaks from pipes and vents for plumbing and chimneys are common due to the flashing being blown off or bent.

Check Your Gutters

Don’t forget to check your gutters.  If they are full of dirt and debris, the water can back up and seep under the soffit, shingles or decking.  This could rot the wood and create large holes that are costly to repair.

If your roof is in need of repairs after a storm, depending on how extensive they are, you can hire a local handyman you trust or call on a reputable roofing company to give you an estimate and fix your roof.

Grant Programs Offer Assistance For New Roofs

roof grantThink you don’t have the money to repair or replace your old roof? Think again!

There are several local and federal grant programs that offer monetary assistance to homeowners. These government grants are accessible to homeowners of all types.

In this tough economy, having extra cash for home improvements is hard to come by.

Money For Home Improvements

Whether you lost your job and can’t afford to pay for a new roof or live in an area affected by a natural disaster, the government has a grant program available to help homeowners fund repairs. There are many grants available for people who are experiencing financial troubles and have a roof in need of replacing.

Federal programs, such as FEMA, help homeowners fund the cost of repairs after a natural disaster. However, these programs are often limited in funds and can take months before any money is paid to homeowners.

Many local governments offer voucher or rebate programs for homeowners looking to upgrade to a more environmentally friendly product. With the push for “going green” becoming stronger each day, many people have found rebates for installing solar panels, recycled shingles or other green roof materials.

Contact the municipal permit or building office to find out more about roof repair voucher or rebate programs offered by your local government. For more information about federal grant programs visit:

Cleaning Fungus from Your Shingles

The northwest, north and west side of your roof gets more shade early in the day providing moisture for moss, lichens and algae to grow.  Especially if you have a low hanging tree branch to block the sun from drying the area out. The stains can range from discolorations, ugly black streaks, to scales or flakes.  If left untreated, over time the algae and moss can cause damage and decay to your shingles.

Getting Your Hands Dirty

If you have shingles with copper coated granules, than you should not have to worry about the fungus growing on your roof.  You can also apply a zinc or copper oxide strip to the top of your roof.  The copper releases zinc oxide when it rains washing the roof and keeping the growth down.

Another option is to clean your roof.  Be extremely careful as the moss, lichen and algae are very slippery especially when your rooftop is wet.  It is wise to use a safety harness to prevent dangerous slips and falls.

What You Will Need

You will need safety equipment, a ladder, garden hose, and into a pump sprayer mix 1 gallon hot water, 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach, and 1 cup laundry detergent. Starting at the top of the roof spray the mixture downward onto a small section of the roof and let sit for 15 minutes, rinse with the garden hose. Spraying the water upward could cause water to go under your shingles and create leaks inside your home. If there is no damage to the shingles continue on to the rest of the roof. Avoid scrubbing as this could loosen the granules and void any warranties you may have on your roof.

If you want to use a pressure washer be sure to start with the smallest psi first and carefully test it on a small section to check for damage.  The granules on your asphalt shingles can be washed away if the pressure is too much. You will be damaging your roof if you see patches of solid black or fiberglass mesh.

Think safety, wear safety gear and rubber soles shoes, and do not mix chemicals that can be dangerous (acid, bleach and ammonia, etc.) Remember, your roof will be slippery. If you are uncomfortable being on your roof be sure to hire someone who has plenty of experience and will not cause any damage to your roof or shingles or use unsafe practices.


Metal Roofs Save Money In Long Run

Metal roofs, are not the tin roofs of yesteryears, they have changed dramatically from the old barn roofs and sheds.   Metal roofs are an attractive, durable, energy efficient and practical option for many homes.

Although initially metal roofs can cost twice as much as an asphalt roof, you will save money in the long run.  Metal roofs reflect the heat away from your roof keeping your attic cooler and reducing the cost of energy use in the warmer months.  Metal roofs can also last hundreds of years and usually come with 50 year warranties, far outlasting the traditional asphalt roof. Metal roofs also stand up to hail, wind and fire better than most roofing materials saving you money on repairs.

More Versatility

Today’s metal roofs are made in a variety of colors and styles. Metal roofs made of either aluminum or steel are made to resemble shingles or shakes. The aluminum panels come in various sizes depending upon the manufacturer.  The principle manufactures now making these panels are the major aluminum companies.  Another type of metal roofing panel is called ‘decramastic’ roof tile made of relatively lightweight galvanized steel, and covered with mastic and mineral granules.

Metal roofs are interlocked and screwed down making them less susceptible to the wind damage, but it does take longer to install than asphalt roofs accounting for some of the additional installation costs. Check with your contractor or roofer to determine if your metal roof qualifies for an Energy Star tax credit.


Getting The Best Roof Estimate

roof estimateNo two roofs are alike, and the same is certainly true of roof contractors. In fact, each zip code in the U.S. has more than a dozen roof contractors in the business listings. Each roofer will offer different advice, opinions, products and processes for repairing or replacing a roof.

The most important aspect to roof repair is getting multiple estimates from different contractors.  For many people, a roof estimate can often be confusing or overwhelming. However, there a few things any homeowner can look for to be sure they have the best estimate for roof repair or replacement.

Attention To Details

Not all roof contractors have written estimates or show these estimates to the homeowners.  It is important to obtain a written copy of the roof estimate and review the information before agreeing for any work to be completed. A professional and quality roof estimate will include:

  • Description of the work to be completed
    • i.e. repair or replacement
  • Specifications about the roof materials to be used
    • ie. shingle type, flashing and underlay materials
  • Exact pricing for the roof work
    • ie. cost of materials, labor
  • Description of any financing or installment arrangement
    • ie. amount of payments, dates payments are due
  • Determination of start and end dates of the work
  • Description of who will complete the work
    • ie. contract and crew, crew only
  • Details of contact information during and after work is completed
    • ie. phone numbers, email

Obtain The Paperwork

It is the responsibility of the homeowner to make sure they have all of the necessary documentation of the roofing project. Warranty information is the most important piece of documentation in a roof repair or replacement job. If there are any problems in the future, the warranty information can save the homeowner lots of time and money in obtaining future help with the roof. The homeowner’s insurance company will also want copies of any work that is done in order to file any claims on the roof project.