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Failing Roofs Along the Gulf Coast

You may have been bracing for bad weather this week but Tampa Bay was spared the worst of it. That’s good in so many ways, especially for anyone living with a roof that’s not ready for heavy rain. Now you’ve got time to remedy any roof issues, as long as you recognize that you do have roof issues.

Let’s take a look at some of most common roof issues. For starters, missing, cracked or curled shingles are obvious signs that a roof is failing to provide adequate protection. Also, a roof that appears dark and dirty may have several potential problems. Among them, the growth of vegetation, algae or fungus could compromise your roof’s performance. Dark spots may also be signs that shingles that are past their prime.

The roof is not the only place to look for roof-related issues. After rainfall, wet spots in the attic may suggest aging of your shingles or flashing deterioration. Wet spots may also indicate faulty installation of your roofing components.

A thorough review of the home for roof-related issues should include an examination of ceilings and walls. Stains, mold and mildew growth are obvious signs of trouble. They may point to roof failure or inadequate ventilation.

If you spot any of these key danger signals at your Tampa Bay home, it’s important to address the issues immediately to avoid facing additional (and potentially costly) problems. Contact a licensed contractor who regularly operates in Tampa Bay and can provide local customer references. Get an estimate in writing and ask pertinent company questions, including questions about a company’s bankruptcy and litigation history.

Some Tampa Bay homeowners may hear different recommendations from different contractors. One might recommend roof replacement while another recommends only roof repair. It’s important to note that not all roof issues necessitate total roof replacement. An experienced and reputable roofing contractor will be able to explain if making repairs to a troubled roof is an option or if roof replacement is a must.

BBB or Bust: Guarding the Gulf Coast Homeowner

The Better Business Bureau is a primary resource for information regarding complaints and consumer problems with local companies, yet many websites claim to offer the same services. One website that focuses on problem contractors promises to help consumers avoid doing business with companies that do substandard work or engage in bad business or fraudulent practices. On the surface, a site like this one seems to be an asset for homeowners.

Upon closer inspection, some concerns are raised in regards to sites that promise to distinguish the good contractors from the not-so-good ones. One concern is how a company earned a positive review. If it’s not evident that it came from a BBB rating or customer testimonials, that should raise a red flag. There is a chance the site is offering a “pay for play” service to contractors, listing them in exchange for a monthly or yearly rate.

Another concern is the nature of the personal information the site requests. If it is as simple as a zip code, then a homeowner is likely to see a list of favorable contractors within a pre-determined range of that zip code. The content might cover a neighborhood or include all of Tampa Bay. If the site requests more personal information, including name, email address, phone number and type of contracting project, expect that information to be used in subsequent sales calls from one or more contracting companies.

Sales calls from companies you do not know, while often unwelcome, give you an opportunity to ask specific questions about a company’s history and ask for references before taking the next step and scheduling an in-home assessment and estimate. You should also ask for any available online details about the company, such as a company website. A company that cannot provide evidence that supports a legitimate business operation is one to avoid.

Prequalify Your Roofing Contractor

One of the biggest investments you’re about to make in your home is replacing the roof. Regardless of what type of materials you prefer, the most important decision is who to hire for the job. In areas like Tampa Bay, this can be challenging for the homeowner who is presented with numerous options and may not know how to begin the decision-making.

What you want to is find a reputable contractor who can provide a roofing system at a fair price. Thankfully the National Roofing Contractors Association has created a resource for you. The Residential Roofing Contractor Qualification Form is designed to help homeowners and building owners prequalify roofing contractors.

Residential Roofing Contractor Qualification Form

The form has places for information for two companies so you will have a side-by-side comparison once the form is complete. When you meet with a roofing contractor for a free estimate, you can have him fill in the information. The final contract bid is listed at the end, but there are other important details to fill in along the way.

You want to know if the company carries workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Ask for a copy of both certificates. Also, the contractor must respond to questions about any current litigation. Customer references are another helpful aspect of the qualification form.

Under the materials section of the form, you’ll see a mention of subcontracting. If your contractor plans to subcontract any area of the work, you should know before the project commences. Below the Subcontracting you will see a section for Warranties. Know the difference between a Manufacturer’s warranty and a Contractor’s warranty, and request a copy to review during your decision-making process.

As you can see, there is quite a bit of homework for you to finish before a roofing project begins. But doing your due diligence can make the contracting process run more smoothly. Also, you can avoid encountering any unwelcome surprises later.

Nail-Pop & Other Neat Roofing Terms

Parents of young school-age kids are often called upon to test their child’s spelling, understanding of word meanings, and reading comprehension. It can feel labor-intensive at times unless it’s done in some fun way. Games are a great way to teach kids new things. Games also work for adults.

Multiple Choice, True or False, and Fill in the Blank are a few popular exercises. Let’s start with a True or False question.

1. When a nail is not fully driven, it sits up off the roof deck. This is the definition of Nail-Pop. True or False?

Let’s move on to a Multiple Choice question.

2. Installing a second layer of shingles aligning courses with the original roof to avoid shingle cupping is known as:
A) Blistering
B) Nesting
C) Buckling
D) Racking

Now let’s try a Fill in the Blank.

3. A Roof Plane is a roofing area defined by having four separate __________.

How about another Fill in the Blank?

4. Crickets effectively divert ___________ around roofing projections, such as chimneys.

We’ll wrap up this little quiz with another Multiple Choice question.

5. A roof with four roof planes coming together at a peak and four separate hip legs is commonly called a:
A) Capstone Roof
B) Brow Roof
C) Alp Roof
D) Hip Roof

How did you do? If you’re an ace and got all 5 right, reward yourself with your favorite dessert tonight. If you think you got less than 3 correct, you may want to spend a few minutes studying.

GAF Glossary of Roofing Terms

Getting comfortable with roofing terms is one way to become a better informed customer. A better informed customer will make better decisions regarding home improvement needs. More importantly, a better informed customer will think more critically when in the process of evaluating which contractors to hire and which to avoid.

See, there is something valuable about play time, even at your age.

(Answer Key: 1. True; 2. B-Nesting; 3. edges; 4. water; 5. D-Hip Roof)

Go Green This Fall

Some good news has come out of the roofing industry lately. Some of it has surrounded new products in development, such as roofing material embedded with solar cells and smog-scrubbing tiles. While they sound promising, the opportunity for energy-conscious individuals to be environmentally friendly already exists. If you’re not already acquainted with the methods of going green with your roof, there’s never been a better time to get started.

Green Roof Central

As a MasterElite Roofing Contractor, we’re backed the resources of North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. The GAF website contains a page dedicated to helping consumers green their homes and buildings. In some cases, the savings from these products may include both energy savings and tax credits.

Cool Shingles are one terrific option. These shingles from Timberline reflect some of the heat from the sun, reducing heat in the attic and the rest of the home. According to national figures, homeowners can save up to 15 percent of total cooling costs. The benefits may be greater in warmer climates with more days of sunshine, the kind of weather we experience here in Florida.

Another green measure you can take at home is recycling asphalt shingles. While you can’t set them out in a typical recycling bin or bag with your paper and plastics, you can find a recycler in Florida. One restriction on recycling asphalt shingles is if they contain asbestos. You can find out much more about state regulations and recycling opportunities for asphalt at the link below.

Recycle Asphalt Shingles

Garden roofing is a popular option worth exploring for commercial properties. The available garden roofing systems, such as GardenScapes, can be installed quickly and easily, reducing any interruption to day-to-day business on the property. Specialists can help you select the right vegetation for your climate, personal tastes and landscaping needs.

Keep in mind, there’s no requirement to be comprehensive in your efforts to go green this fall. Starting with small but beneficial projects can be a wise decision. Once you’ve found a little success saving energy and enhancing your surroundings, you’ll want to find more ways to do the same.

The End of Summer

The end of the summer is quickly approaching. Autumn officially begins on September 23, even if temperatures along the Gulf Coast won’t make it feel like fall right away. But that’s probably a big reason you live here. If you wanted mid-September highs in the 60s, you could move to Boston right now. But that’s not going to happen.

One big benefit of this “extended” warmth is the opportunity to start home improvement projects here while homeowners in other regions of the country are ending theirs. Many of your Gulf Coast neighbors are beginning to repair, replace and beautify parts of their property. You can, too!

That doesn’t mean you want to rush out and hire the first contractor who drives by. You want a professional contractor that comes equipped to handle the project and delivers on a promise to provide the materials and workmanship for which you’re paying. Wait, you’ve heard this before?

Sure, how to avoid to scam artists is a topic that gets mentioned a lot after tropical storms and hurricanes. But it’s always a good time to remind our Tampa Bay neighbors about the need to be vigilant when hiring anyone to handle home improvement projects. Education is a key part of the process.

Get acquainted with the particular project you want completed. When roofing is the focus, use reliable resources to become better informed about your options. For example, as a GAF MasterElite Roofing Contractor, we share the resources of GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. The company has a feature on its website that allows you to see how different options would look on a home.

Virtual Home Remodeler

This feature allows you to see several categories of home products, from stone options to brick and siding. Among the roofing options, you can view a variety of Slate choices, such as Bristol Gray and Sheffield Black. You can even upload an image of your own home to use, then print and save a project thanks to the site.

You can also educate yourself about the work involved. The more you know about the process, the less likely you are to be susceptible to a sales pitch from a less-than-scrupulous person. Of course, it’s always wise to ask for references, get a written agreement, and avoid paying a large amount of the bill up front.

State Seeks Roof Resolution

When a company makes a mistake, correcting it quickly is a vital part of protecting that company’s integrity and reputation. If that mistake is ignored or repeated, and ultimately affects multiple customers, an intervention becomes necessary. Sometimes that intervention comes directly from customers sharing poor reviews. Sometimes it takes a bigger effort.

In Ohio, the state’s Attorney General is suing a roofing company over unresolved complaints. Those complaints were filed with both the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. The six complaints allege failure to deliver, shoddy or incomplete work, and refunds promised but never received.

This type of suit doesn’t happen overnight. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office apparently contacted the roofing company several times in the past year, hoping to prompt the company to resolve these issues. Without a suitable response from the company, a suit was the necessary next step to help affected customers and protect future customers.

Customers along the Gulf Coast can benefit from the guidelines being shared with Ohio residents by their Attorney General’s Office. Researching a company is a sensible first step. Asking for references and written estimates explaining the cost of the work are other recommendations. Other safe practices include avoiding large payments before work begins, and withholding final payments until the work has been completed to a customer’s satisfaction.

It’s important to note that the suit in Ohio doesn’t stop the company from offering and providing home improvement services. In fact, it’s likely the company has current customers who no nothing about the suit by the state’s Attorney General. But it is ultimately a customer’s responsibility to know who he or she is doing business with.

That doesn’t mean a company shouldn’t be held accountable when it fails to deliver goods or services as promised, and a lawsuit is not always necessary. As a pro-active customer, you can help keep home improvement companies honest by reporting fraud and bad business practices to the Better Business Bureau. You can also help fellow customers by rewarding the good companies with your praise.


Hurricane Irene Provides Role Reversal

Residents along Florida’s Gulf Coast are no doubt feeling a role reversal in the days following Hurricane Irene’s path of destruction from North Carolina to New England. The images on TV of mountain towns in upstate New York cut off by flood waters and water rescues in New Jersey are certainly different than we’re used to seeing when tropical weather usually ravages our state and states to the west. For many residents in the areas affected by Irene, the hurricane of that size will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Hearing from family and friends is an important part of the recovery process for residents whose homes have sustained damage and people who have temporarily cut off by flood waters. According to news reports, some groups of people in the Northeast may be stranded for days due to flooded roads and washed out bridges. Resources, like food and clean water, may be sharply limited, too. Widespread power outages have prompted utility crews from outside the region, including crews from Florida, to provide assistance in outage areas.

If you’ve experienced the wrath of one of nature’s most formidable forces, you likely remember living in survival mode for days or even weeks. But in an area like New England, hurricanes are a rare occurrence and residents are less likely to be prepared for either the initial impact or the aftermath. In fact, landlocked Vermont is battling its worst flooding in 70 years.

Another unexpected event connected to disasters like this one is the arrival of scam artists and unlicensed contractors looking to make fast money from home repair jobs. Hopefully, you never fell prey to one of these unethical individuals. But any experience you’ve had with them can be valuable to a friend or family member who may encounter someone similar during the cleanup and recovery period up north.

One of the best bits of advice you can give to a friend or family member affected by Irene is to recommend asking for several bids for any significant needs, such as roof repair. Also, tell them that checking the license of a contractor, getting the agreement in writing and avoiding those door-to-door sales calls are more than suggestions—they’re mandatory steps. Now your experience is paying off!

Irene’s Not-So-Gentle Reminder

As Hurricane Irene pushes closer to the United States, residents along the East Coast are stocking up on supplies as they prepare for power outages that can accompany damaging winds. Of course, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen any tropical action affecting the mainland U.S. Nearly three years have passed since Hurricane Ike made landfall in Texas as a strong category 2 hurricane—with a storm surge more than 12 feet. It was part of an active 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. The season included the formation of Tropical Storm Cristobal off the Florida coast, but that storm paled in comparison to Ike and left Florida largely unaffected.

The large gap in time between these types of storms is a blessing and a burden. A quiet hurricane season can mean no casualty and minimal property damage. On the flip side, the passage of time also leads us to forget what always accompanies damaging storms: the people looking to make a quick buck by promising fast repairs and not delivering on that promise. These so-called “storm chasers” pop up everywhere, and some may even travel from state to state following a disaster.

While a homeowner’s eagerness to save a few bucks may prompt him or her to hire one of these less-than-desirable contractors, it’s important to remember that you never need to make a decision on-the-spot when someone knocks on your door and offers to provide a service. Like any licensed, reputable contractor, we will always advise you to do your research first before contracting the services of anyone. Ask for testimonials. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Check out company information online, if available.

As we watch the track of Hurricane Irene, we’re breathing a sigh of relief that it’s bypassing Florida. At the same time, we realize that there is the potential for damage to homes and properties along the East Coast. This is an ideal time to advise your friends and family in the potential affected areas to be cautious regarding any type of contractor who approaches them with pre-hurricane services or quickly appears following storm damage.

Update the Way You Insulate

Newcomers and long-time residents along Florida’s Gulf Coast recognize the tremendous beauty of the Bay Area. Many homeowners further enhance the look of the area with improvements to their own properties, adding curb appeal to a home and more personality to neighborhoods like Seminole Heights and Carrollwood in Tampa and Driftwood and Bahama Shores in St. Petersburg. Yet homeowners focused on visual improvements to a home may neglect one critical area that largely remains unseen.

It’s not an attractive part of the home, but attic insulation provides an important function as it controls energy loss in your home, year round. It can mean the difference between feeling cool and comfortable during a Florida summer and feeling miserable—or paying higher-than-necessary utility bills due to an air conditioner or furnace consuming more energy. One factor is the age of your insulation. Attic insulation that’s ten years old or older is likely no longer functioning at 100% and should be replaced immediately. If you’ve purchased a home in the Bay Area in the last few years and don’t know the age of your home’s attic insulation, don’t assume the insulation is sufficient.

Even homes with new construction are not necessarily adequately insulated. One variable is the type of insulation used in your attic. While most homeowners are acquainted with rolls of insulation, they may not be aware of the added benefits of blown-in insulation, such as the kind offered by Owens Corning. According to www.energystar.gov, 15.5 inches of Owens Corning AttiCat Expanding Blown-In PINK FIBERGLAS Insulation can save a homeowner up to 20% on heating and cooling costs.

Whether you’re unsure about the efficiency of your insulation or already planning to replace it, Arry’s Roofing can help. We’ve worked with many of your Gulf Coast neighbors and we’d love to with you. Learn more about our services by clicking on the link below.

Replace Your Inadequate Attic Insulation