The most obvious answer would be, “when my roof leaks.” Well, as logical as that seems, it could have a major affect on your wallet. Let me explain. When a roof leaks, it begins to immediately affect the roof decking, the possibly the rafters, insulation, and then finally your ceiling. Now, sometimes a leak is discovered withing a day or two of its beginning. But, too often, a leak isn’t found until it has caused extensive damage. The end result is a repair bill from a roofer, a carpenter, a sheet rock hanger, and a painter. Then, there is the possible damage to personal property. So, let me answer the question, “When do you need a roof?” On the Gulf Coast, with the varying weather conditions that exists, a typical 20-year shingle roof will give you about 15 years of good service. There are some visual signs of a worn roof that tell you it’s nearing time for replacement. The most obvious is curled shingles. This begins typically around the 12th year. This is seen as the corners of the shingles begin to warp or curl, allowing debris such as leaves, acorns and small limbs to wedge under them. This makes the area under the shingle very accessible to a blowing rain.


Many people go to the yellow pages or the internet and simply choose a roofer because of a catchy ad or because they have heard that company’s name before. These are good places to begin the process, but this should only be a starting point. Our recommendations for selecting a roofer are:


1. After selecting a company, check with the Better Business Bureau.

2. Call the company and ask for a free estimate. Also ask for references you can call and inquire about the honesty, integrity, or workmanship of the company.

3. Make sure you fully understand what you are to receive and for what amount of money.

4. Check to be sure the company is fully insured and licensed.

5. Advance no money. Wait until the job is completed. Inspect the work and pay for what you have received.


Alabama law requires contractors and subcontractors to be licensed and insured. This is for your protection, so make sure to check on these items. When the inspector comes and finds that a company is not licensed or insured, the workers will be called off of the roof. This could be very bad especially if they have already partially torn off your existing roof.


A license is very important for one very good reason: to weed out those who are not legitimately in business or as the term goes “fly-by-nights.”


Insurance is also very important because if a person gets hurt on your property and the roofer does not have insurance, your home owner’s insurance policy becomes responsible. In that case, after a battle is fought and a settlement is made, it is quite possible your insurance rate will rise.


Two such incidents I have known about over the years are:


1. An uninsured roofer fell off of a person’s house and it cost her insurance company $25,000.

2. Another uninsured roofer fell from a two-story building on which he was working alone. He was not found until the next day and sustained multiple injuries. The building owner’s insurance was responsible for the cost of his medical care.

Because of incidents such as these, wouldn’t you think it is very important that your roofer be insured properly?

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