August 29, 2005, was not a good day to be a roof in the Gulf Coast region of the United States.
Wind speeds up to 125 mph ripped through the region, followed by eight to 10 inches of rain when Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Weeks and months later, an aerial view showed a sea of blue tarps blanketing countless damaged roofs.
One of those roofs was on Ted Anthony’s home, nine miles upriver from New Orleans. And it’s not the worst he’s seen. As an architectural landscape construction pro, Anthony has seen what he describes as disastrous roof jobs—cheap shingles ripped to shreds, expensive slate shingles and custom copper roofs destroyed by hail, clay tiles blown away. Durability is key, says Anthony. Replacing the roof on his plantation home, he chose a 30-year designer asphalt shingle etched with shadow lines to look like slate, but at a fraction of the price.
“You can spend serious money on slate and other high-end roofing material, but the new designer shingles are very durable and they look like the real thing,” says Anthony, who spent around $20,000 on his new roof.
Homeowners can expect to spend an average of $20,142 on a new roof, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report. In return, the investment adds approximately $14,400 to the resale value of your home, or a 72 percent return on investment.
"You can spend serious money on slate and other high-end roofing material, but the new designer shingles are very durable and they look like the real thing."—Ted Anthony
Another perk: Potential insurance savings, depending on where you live, the type of roof you have and the terms of your homeowners policy. Your insurance company may give you a break if you use impact-resistant shingles that deter hail damage or if you’re simply replacing an old roof, says Barry Brack, who runs operations in Harahan, Louisiana, for Advanced Building Products, a wholesale materials distributor. There may also be stability and savings potential in opting for a new roof design. A “hip roof,” for example, slopes on all four sides, which is a characteristic Brack links to more stability, particularly in high-wind regions or areas where snow accumulates.
For the past 11 years and through post-Katrina reconstruction, Advanced Building Products has supplied materials to repair or replace tens of thousands of roofs in the Greater New Orleans area. Brack says he has seen the good, bad and ugly in roofing materials. He offers these notes for consumers planning a roof replacement:
”Your local building code enforcement office can tell you the wind speed rating requirements for roofing shingles in your area. Shingles are classified by these speed ratings:
Up to and including 90 mph -Class D shingle
Up to and including 120 mph -Class G shingle
Up to and including 150 mph -Class H shingle
”There are different types of roofing material, based on the look you want to achieve, quality and price. While you may be looking for the product that best fits your budget, the quality of the materials you use may have an impact on durability—a rule that applies not only to shingles, but also to the underlayment material, which is the buffer between shingles and roof deck. For actual product recommendations, consumers often look to Consumer Reports, which runs roofing tests measuring strength, impact and weathering of materials; your contractor may also have a preferred brand. Brack recommendsthat you research recommended products and understand the differences, which will help you make an informed choice about what’s best for you.
The most expensive shingles with the highest wind speed rating on the market won’t hold up if they’re installed improperly, says Brack.
In the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Roof Coverings and Best Practices guide, post-disaster investigations by FEMA Mitigation Assessment Teams outline two critical errors they saw in roofing installations that compromised integrity: 1) improper installation of the starter strip and 2) shingles installed in vertical sections.
Brack says every homeowner shopping for a new roof should look for proof of professional licensing, proof of workers’ compensation insurance specifically covering roofing contractors and references from past customers. Your roofer should provide a copy of these documents with their proposal or estimate, says Brack. As a homeowner, it’s your job to call to the insurer and your city’s licensing bureau to ensure the documents are up to date and accurate, he says.
In addition to getting quotes from at least three roofing companies before making a choice, Brack also recommends asking a prospective roofer to explain the installation process, in detail. When you’re making the final decision about which roofer to hire, factor in how well each explained and answered questions about installation, says Brack. It gives you insight into how meticulous each company is.
“It’s a completely reasonable question, and you’re spending $20,000 on a new roof. Don’t hesitate to ask him anything. If he acts like it’s a hassle to answer, find someone who is more transparent and happy to answer whatever questions you have,” says Brack.
A "hip roof" may be more stable in areas with high wind or snow accumulation rates.
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