Homeowners’ Guide to Hail and Wind Damaged Roofs
Recent storms have brought severe wind and hail damage to many local homeowners’ properties, in particular, their roofs. The ensuing process of getting repairs or replacement and dealing with insurance claims can be overwhelming. Here’s a simple guide to knowing the right questions to ask, selecting a contractor, dealing with insurance claims, and avoiding the pitfalls of out-of-state storm chasing companies.
- Wait It Out
Many homeowners will be inundated with mailers, door-to-door salesmen, and phone calls all vying for your business. If your home isn’t experiencing leaks, it’s best to avoid the rush for a few months. During a rush of storm damage, there are often delays that arise with suppliers and insurance companies due to the increase in volume. Waiting a few months will also help you in selecting a quality, local contractor and allow you time to properly vet those offering free estimates. Almost every company will offer a free inspection and free estimate. Several will offer a quick turnaround in completing your project. But the truth is, the more rushed a company is in the midst of storm business, the less likely your project will receive the best project management and craftsmanship There’s no harm in receiving estimates or even signing contracts, but to receive the best quality work from a local contractor, be willing to wait a few months for the actual installation to take place.
- Where Are They From?
Many companies around the nation are dedicated “storm chasing companies” that will come from as far as Texas or New York. These companies often come in to a local area to sweep up business and then leave town. Several homeowners are sadly left with a meaningless warranty and even unfinished projects. Many of these companies will even purchase local telephone numbers, addresses, or even partner with a local company to use their name to increase sales. It’s important to clarify with the company you choose to hire whether they are truly local and how long their crews have worked directly for their company. Local contractors recommend selecting a contractor within a three hour drive from your home. If there are any warranty issues, they are close enough to respond proactively.
- Hello? Is Anyone There?
A good indicator of the type of customer service you will receive is how responsive a company is in their communication, how thorough they are in learning about your home, and answering your questions. Many great contractors will book up on appointments so just like your actual installation, be willing to wait up to a couple weeks for an inspection and estimate. However, the level of communication and follow up before, during, and after your inspection will be your gauge on the quality of company you are dealing with. Great communication is key to a positive experience and successful project.
- Don’t Go With the Cheapest Quote
Many homeowners understandably want to save as much money when getting a new roof installed. However, be wary of a contractor offering significantly lower quotes. This likely means they are either a storm chasing company or do not have high quality, experienced crews, of whom require market rates for their skills. It could also mean they’re leaving out important components of your roof like drip edge or flashing. Your roof is a significant investment in the value of your home and directly affects the protection of the rest of your home from damage. Some companies even will illegally offer to cover your deductible. This is a red flag that you’re dealing with a storm chasing company or a contractor of low repute and therefore, low standards in their business and quality of their work. Many homeowners who have faced the storm damage process would go back and spend a little extra money to avoid the hassles of a poorly installed roof or unresponsive contractor. Look for deep discounts on your favorite fashion brands, not something as important as your roof!
- Get a Working Knowledge of Roof and What Is Included In Estimate
You don’t need to be an expert or invest a lot of time to learn some basics about your roof in order to be prepared for a roof replacement, a critical component in the value of your home. There are helpful videos online by shingle manufacturers like GAF to get a grasp on things like proper ventilation, leak barrier protection (“ice & water”), underlayment, and flashing. In order to offer the lowest price, many some companies will often leave out important items of a roofing system in your estimate like flashing or drip edge even though it could need replacement. This often results in a roof that might last the length of the labor warranty but not fully protected for the lifetime your new roof is supposed to last. Ask for an examination and photographs of the flashing around sidewalls, chimneys, and skylights. Ask about the installation of drip edge around the perimeter of your home. Ask for them to check inside the attic for potential decking replacement that needs to be included. Ask how they protect the vulnerable areas of your roof like valleys, sidewalls, chimneys, and plumbing pipes.
- Do They Specialize In What Your Project Needs?
Many contractors will promise to handle all the damage to your home (roof, windows, siding). This means they will be hiring other companies that might not have the same values or vested interest in your project. This often leads to delays, quality control issues, and an overall frustrating experience. Some roofing companies service all types of roofs: metal, tile, membrane, and shingle. They install different types all year round. If your home is a shingle roof, consider a company that specializes only in shingle roofing. These crews are highly specialized in shingle roofing because they install and manage shingle roofing year round. Your roof is a complex, critical component to the value and protection of the rest of your home. Consider hiring a contractor who only focuses on installing and managing roofing projects.
The process of getting repairs to your home after storm damage can often be daunting and tedious, but the reality is many homeowners look at the glass half full. They are getting a new roof or other improvement that’s covered by their insurance. If you sit back, wait out the rush, and ask the right questions, you’re on your way to getting a great roof while avoiding the headaches and potential financial losses that affect homeowners following storm damage from wind and hail.
-Tim Boynton is the owner of RCB Roofing based in Atlanta, Georgia. RCB Roofing has completed thousands of roofing projects in Georgia and Alabama for nearly two decades. RCB offers an unmatched 50 year warranty. For more information, visit their website at rcbroof.com