With the battering many homes took during hurricanes Matthew and Irma in back-to-back years, it may be difficult navigating the process of repairing or replacing a roof that was damaged by a storm.
Chris Hartman, of Rogero & Williams Roofing in Jacksonville, said the process doesn’t have to be that painful, if homeowners just follow some simple tips.
The first – and most important – thing a homeowner should do after noticing roof damage following a storm is not only contact their insurance company, but also a reputable roofing contractor.
“There needs to be an educated roofing contractor present with that adjuster, who knows what storm-damaged shingles look like,” Hartman said. “A lot of times the insurance adjuster is uneducated on what to look for with regards to storm-damaged shingles. It’s a gamble.
“But if you have a storm damage restoration company person who is qualified to point out the damage with that adjuster there, you’re going to be much more guaranteed that you’re going to have the inspection done right the first time,” he continued. “That will help determine whether your insurance will replace the entire roof.”
Hartman said often under the Florida 15 percent rule, a roof may qualify for a complete replacement even if it only appears a single shingle is missing or damaged. For example, if one shingle or one part of a four-sided roof is impacted, it could meet the 25 percent rule standard.
Another tip, Hartman said, is after getting an approval from the insurance company and an estimate of what it is willing to pay, don’t waste time shopping around for bids.
“A roofing company has a choice to accept the estimate, so there’s really no need to search for bids,” Hartman said. “You want to focus on getting the best contractor for your house. That’s all you need to focus on.”
Hartman said shopping around for a lower price makes sense if you’re paying out-of-pocket, but with an insurance estimate, the amount is what the company expects customers to spend on the repairs.
“Insurance has provided for it, now it’s up to you to get the best company for the job,” he said.
Once a homeowner has selected a roofing company, it’s also important to finalize the details in writing, especially the completion date.
“Hold the company to a clear start and completion date, because you could be waiting in limbo for months or years,” Hartman said.
Hartman said the standard amount of time for completion for an average residential home is two to three days with a six-to-10-man crew, weather permitting. He also said to make sure the company has verifiable credentials.
“You want these companies to be around after the fact,” he said.
A major aspect of roof replacement is getting the right equipment, especially for homeowners closer to the coast.
Hartman said many homes still have 3-Tab shingles, which only offer protection from winds up to 60 miles per hour. He recommended using architectural shingles instead, which offer protection from 110 mph winds.
“In this day and age, if you’re going to do anything with roof replacement you really don’t need to go with the 3-Tab anymore,” he said.
Hartman said many companies will give a free upgrade to the architectural shingle, and his company even gives a 50-year warranty on it.
He said many local, state and even federal government agencies are starting to require the higher-grade shingles on coastal area homes, not just because of roof damage, but the trickle-down concerns created by roof damage.
“They’ve realized in county, state and even national levels, the devastation it causes when you lose a roof system,” Hartman said. “The entire contents of your home and your home’s interior structure are now exposed to the elements. So not only do you have a damaged roof, but in a lot of cases, you will have exponential damage, so now the roof actually looks like a small issue.”
Hartman cited mold and electrical hazards as part of the compounding effects of roof damage.
He also said it’s important for homeowners to make the repairs as quickly as possible, and not just pocket the money from insurance companies. One of the biggest issues of not doing the repairs, he said, is if the home suffers subsequent damage like mold, ruined sheetrock and electrical issues because of water. In this case, the insurance company may refuse to cover the cost because the homeowner failed to mitigate the damages by doing repairs the insurance company had already paid for.
“It's very important the homeowner be proactive and understand this is an emergency fund,” Hartman said. “Because it can get worse. You run a big risk of damaging your own home further.”
For more information on the process for roof repairs or replacement, call Chris Hartman at (904) 485-0335.