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Rules to Follow When Hiring a Roofing Contractor: An Interview with Premier Roofing

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Premier Roofing is a residential roofing company. Our customers are primarily condominium HOAs, apartment owners, and individual homeowners. We install all types of roofing, including asphalt shingles, metal panels, tile, and low slope (flat) roofing materials.

This is a pretty basic question, but in your opinion, why should people care about their roof?

The roof on any building is the primary defense against water intrusion and heat buildup. Water damage obviously can cause rot. But it also can lead to a host of other problems. Termites love moisture. So does mold. Moisture can also shorten the life of A/C ductwork, electrical lines and junctions, and insulation as well. Moisture and home interiors just don't get along.

What are some ways to reduce summer cooling bills using your services?

Attics absorb heat during the day, and without proper ventilation, they retain this heat well into the evening. There are two ways to alleviate this. A barrier can prevent the heat from radiating into the living area through the ceiling, and the hot air can be removed from the attic. The insulation in the attic performs the first function. Proper insulation is critical to reducing cooling costs. Proper attic ventilation performs the second function. The hot air in an attic can be removed in several ways, but the basic goal is to use the fact that hot air rises to your benefit. There are many types of rooftop ventilation systems, including ridge vent, low profile vents, turbines, and power ventilators (both hard wired and solar). But all these methods will be ineffective if there is no access for cooler air to replace the hot air being removed. Imagine trying to suck the air out of an empty soda bottle. It can't be done unless you poke a hole in the bottom of the bottle. So around the perimeter of your home, usually in the soffits, vents are installed to let cool air in to replace the hot air exiting. Employing both these methods will reduce a homeowner's cooling bills dramatically.

Are there any benefits to having a metal roof rather than a shingle roof?

In central Texas, shingled roofs need to be replaced every fifteen to twenty years, depending on the grade of shingle installed. And during that time, periodic maintenance of the roof will be necessary. Standing seam metal roofs, on the other hand, will last fifty years or more with little or no maintenance. However, a metal roof typically costs two or three times as much as an asphalt shingle roof. So for most homeowners, metal versus shingle roofs are a tradeoff between time and money. A property owner that does not intend to stay in a home more than eight to ten years probably won't reap the monetary benefit of installing a metal roof. Besides durability, metal roofs do have other advantages including aesthetics, heat reflection, no VOCs or petroleum in rainwater runoff, and their appearance does not deteriorate over time.

What are some key qualities a homeowner should look for in a good roofing company?

There were 234 listings under "roofing contractors" in the Central Texas BBB this spring. But there are only about a dozen companies in Austin that meet all the criteria below. There are five basic rules when selecting a roofing company: First, make sure they are local. Second, make sure they are insured. Ask for a certificate of insurance, and make sure it shows both liability and workers compensation insurance. Third, make sure they have been in business for more than ten years. Any roofing contractor that has lasted ten years will probably be around for another five or ten years in case a warranty issue develops. Fourth, eliminate any contractors who offer ridiculously long warranties. The quality contractors in Austin typically offer five to seven year workmanship warranties, and a contractor who offers a warranty much longer than this is doing so because he doesn't plan on being around that long anyway. And fifth and most important ? NEVER PAY ANY ROOFING CONTRACTOR ANY MONEY BEFORE THE JOB IS COMPLETED TO YOUR SATISFACTION. This cannot be emphasized enough. Strong, reputable companies do not need 'materials deposits' or any other sums to get your work completed.

Are there any easy-to-see signs that your roof needs work? What dangers can result in a damaged roof?

Obvious signs would include nails that are uncaulked or metal flashings that have popped loose. Unfortunately, there is not a good way to discover a potential leak before it happens. Homeowners typically discover leaks when they notice a stain on a ceiling.

What's sets yours business apart from all the others? Is there anything you feel you do better/different?

We don't employ the "hard sell", and I think our customers prefer it that way. We attempt to give our customers all the information they need to make an informed decision, then leave them alone. We have a lot of repeat customers and referrals, so it must be working.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Telephone is typically best, because we are going to ask a lot of questions about the roof before we come out. Our office number is 512-491-9900. Our e-mail is premierroofing@sbcglobal.net.

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