A Guide to New Roof Replacement

You Need a New Roof: How to Approach a Roof Replacement From Start to Finish

So, you think you might need a new roof. You’ve just had a punishing storm roll through and it wreaked havoc on your roof; shingles are torn and ripped off. The weather causes a lot of roofing damage, especially in New England, which means you likely need an expert in New England roofing to help. Do you have a leaking roof? Have you wondered if it’s that bad or if you just need a simple roof leak repair? Are you wondering about roof replacement costs? Or, do you simply have an old roof and want to be proactive about its health. Needless to say, there are many factors that cause someone to explore roof replacement warning signs and weigh the pros and cons of a installing a new roof.

As a leading roofing company in the greater Boston area, we have heard every possible question when it comes to customers needing a new roof. Plus, in over 25 years installing new roofs throughout Massachusetts, we have seen every type of roof imaginable. In this time, we developed an internal framework on how to help both current and potential customers not only identify roofing issues, but how to best approach a roof replacement from start to finish. It doesn’t hurt to get some outside perspective for any project; therefore, we have combined our tips and tricks with those from some of the most respected minds in the home improvement business.

So, You Have an Old Leaking Roof


To the untrained eye, it may be difficult to determine both current and potential roofing issues. To help, understand the possible scope of your project, read more about the common roofing anatomy. For example, knowing the necessary terms and roof landmarks helps discuss any necessary requirements with contractors. Additionally, learning how a roofing system operates, helps homeowners understand the purpose of things like the underlayment that creates impervious shield against weather.

So, how do you know when it’s time to explore roof replacement options for your leaky old roof? In some cases that could be simple. Conversely, in others you may have put in your monocle and don your top hat to do a little investigation work. First and foremost, much like everything in life, there is an unofficial lifespan to your roof. This depends on the type of roof you have. Generally, most houses in New England utilize asphalt shingles, slate shingles, and rubber roofs, which is the focus of the following guidance. According to NAHB, the lifespan of these different shingles are:

  • Slate shingles – North of 50 years with most roofs lasting a lifetime.
  • Asphalt shingles – Last an average of 20 years give or take depending on climate.
  • Rubber roofs – 40 to 50 years with proper upkeep and maintenance.

Keep in mind, these statistics are not set in stone and consider favorable conditions with no outside factors such as extreme weather. Similarly, roofs require maintenance and if you let your roof suffer, its lifespan decreases. As a result, just because a roof is old does not mean it needs replacement. This is where a professional opinion comes into play. A good roofer addresses the health of an otherwise pristine looking roof and gives advice on when roof replacement is needed.

Leaky Roof Issues


Once you have figured in age of your roof, another indicator of the health of your roof are issues that can be seen with the untrained eye. Many issues can be seen from the ground, including dark spots that indicate either fungus growth or granule loss, missing shingles, lifted shingles, among many others. Dry Home, a residential roofing and siding company from  Sterling, Virginia outlines the myriad of factors that you should look for when inspecting your possibly leaking roof:

“If you suspect that your roof is damaged, here is a basic list of what to look for:

  • Composition shingles: curling, loss of granulation, broken, damaged or missing shingles
  • Flat roof: Obvious patches, cracks or tears, several blisters and/or wrinkles (also check patched areas from inside the attic)
  • Flashing: Tears, buckling around roof penetrations
  • Roofing cement: Excess cement, crumbling
  • Soffits and fascia: Decay, stains
  • Soffit and ridge vents: Clogged or damaged vents, flashing and shingles around them curling or missing
  • Gutters: Decay or rust, leaky seams, loosely attached to structure, bent or sagging, missing sections of gutter or downspout, filled with debris. Clogged gutters can easily freeze shut and cause excessive weight on gutter fasteners, ice dam conditions, and slippery walks below.
  • Chimneys: Leaning, loose or missing flashing, damaged bricks, cap or cracked joints. Chimney flashing is especially prone to tearing because a chimney settles independently from the house.”

-Dry Home Roofing and Siding, facebook

As you can see, there are many issues that can be present on your roof that indicate it is time to explore a new roof replacement. Also, issues may be obvious on the outside of your home, it is also wise to check your attic or any area directly under your roof to identify leaking roof areas before they cause substantial damage or mold growth. Start by climbing into your attic and examining the underside of your roof deck. This is the area of plywood that is used to support the shingles and create structural integrity to your home. Here you will be looking for wet areas, areas that look like they have had moisture issues, or areas of mold growth. The Morning Call polled a multitude of contractors on how best to spot issues from both the inside and outside of your roof.

After a hard rain, go up into the attic and use a flashlight to examine the roof sheathing and rafters for wet, darkened or stained wood. In severe cases, the wood may be rotting.”

-The Morning Call, facebook

In our case, a leaking roof is most always an indicator of the need for a new roof rather than a roof repair. We pride ourselves in our honesty to our customers, we will not stress the need for a new roof if your issues are minor.

Finding a Good Roofer for Your Roof Replacement Project


Finding a quality roofing contractor for your project that you can trust is like taking a shot in the dark. Without strong referrals from friends or neighbors or seeing quality of work done yourself, it may feel like a daunting task to find a good roofer. We have seen it all when it comes to quality and less than quality jobs and through experience and feedback have been able to consolidate tips and tricks to ensure you are comfortable with your decision. For the most part, these tips cross all lines and relate to hiring all types of contractors for your various housing projects. Our blog on how to find a good roofer contains these tips in detail; however, here are some of our tips for find a good roofing contractor to replace your old roof.

  • Choose a roofer that is adequately licensed
  • Your contractor will be able to handle the licensing and permitting for you
  • Choose a roofer that has proper insurance
  • Proper insurance will help you sleep better at night knowing that any issues will be adequately paid for if something goes wrong
  • Choose a roofer than you can trust
  • Contractors strongly rely on reviews and word of mouth. Be sure to choose a roofer that you get a good gut feeling about that also comes with strong positive reviews

Our supplier GAF runs a fantastic blog that covers all things roofing, from residential to commercial. GAF has compiled a list of more tips that will help any homeowner choose a good roofer for their replacement or repair. Some highlights from this list include:

  • look for manufacturer designations
  • get local referrals
  • check BBB ratings

-GAF Roofing, facebook

Manufacturer designations are often not talked about when choosing the right roofing contractor. We possess designations from all of our suppliers which essentially means we have passed stringent requirements to be recognized as installers by the organization. In a nutshell, our suppliers put their name behind us to install and warranty their products and services.

Angie has also weighed in on this topic, adding some fantastic tips:

  • Avoid storm chasers
  • Price isn’t everything

-Angi, facebook

Storm chasers are roofers that will go door to door to try to drum up business whether you need a new roof or not. While this is not a bad strategy and does not automatically mean that they will not do a good job, our experience shows that often this ends badly for the homeowner. Similarly, good roofers will stick to their price and not engage in bidding wars. While money may be tight and you want the cheapest price, the cheapest price often leads to the cheapest work. We are not saying choose the highest price, but do not let price be the overall determining factor in choosing a contractor to replace your old leaking roof.

What to Expect With Your Roof Replacement


The hard part is over, you have chosen your roofer and are hopefully very confident in your choice. Next, the team outlines the path to create your ideal roof and look for your home. At this point, homeowners choose the type and style of shingles, along with color scheme. Reputable contractors do not rush this process. These decision take time and ultimately ensure that homeowners remain satisfied at the end of the roof replacement. You don’t necessarily always notice a quality roof thanks in part to color choices that accentuate your home rather than creating areas that attract the eye and pull away from the craftsmanship of your home.

After selecting the materials, the roofing company orders the shingles and schedules the job. At Ranch Roofing, we assign a dedicated project manager that serves as your point person throughout your roofing project. The PM is responsible for everything that has to do with your house. This means you can relax and not have to worry about project completion. For example, the PM obtains the necessary permits, as well as dumpster drop-off and placement. Once the project has been completely scheduled, your next step is the day of removal and installation.

Advanced Roofing, a leader in roofing services in the Pacific Northwest outlines the project from start to finish. Their first tip is, “You should prepare both the outside and the inside of your home.” – Advanced Roofing

Similarly, IKO examines how to best prepare your property for replacement, they suggest your protect your fragile keepsakes, “These same vibrations can potentially hurt your especially fragile items, such as china plates. Make sure glass, vases, dishes, and other breakables aren’t touching each other or the wall.” – IKO

For example, homeowners should clear the yard, which allows full access for the roofers to easily access the roof. Additionally, a clean yard helps prevent debris falling on any possessions. Plus, it helps the roofers see the landscaping and attempt to avoid debris falling on fragile trees and shrubs. A quality roofing company will protect your home’s exterior as well as landscaping prior to shingle removal. The next step is to remove the existing shingles before any new material can be laid. Any issues to the structure of the roof can be adequately addressed to ensure a quality job without leaks.

Once issues have been addressed it is time to install your new roof. This process includes replacing your underlayment which protects against ice and water. Additionally, the installation process fixes or replaces flashing to ensure proper water shed. Finally, the team installs shingles. Once the installation process has been completed, the roofing contractors will then clean up.

Removing old shingles is a messy job, full of dangerous nails. A good roofer ensures no stray nails are left in your yard, which potentially harms your family and pets. Upon completion of proper cleanup, the roofers properly dispose of your old shingles. For example at Ranch Roofing, we collect the waste in our own dumpsters. This ensures that the waste is properly disposed of as required by waste type. Following the clean-up, quality roofing contractors walk with you around the property to examine the roof and landscaping. During this review, homeowners should address any issues with the roof replacement or yard condition.

A happy customer is essentially for survival in this industry. As a result, roofing reviews remain extremely helpful for homeowners to find quality contractors. Finally, experienced roofers may follow up upon competition of the job. This extra step ensures continued satisfaction after living in the home for a bit. But also, roofers really do seek reviews as part of their longevity. So, they might ask again because word of mouth is the life blood that creates strong project leads. For a well-connected roofing, a roof replacement review on Google or Angie’s List is important to continued work and success.

Wrapping Up Your Roof Replacement


A leaking roof or old shingles may seem like a daunting task for a homeowner. We outlined the complete roof replacement process. Although lengthly, working with an experienced roofing company ensures it is not difficult. Calling a professional and having them work with you from start to finish helps ensure your project is completed in a timely fashion with proper work. Here at Ranch Roofing, we are a leader in Cambridge roofing and can help you with any project big or small in the greater Boston area. For more information, or to work with us, feel free to call us at (339) 707-5093.

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