State Roofing Buying Guide for Pennsylvania
With a new roofing project on your home improvement agenda in Pennsylvania, there are several steps along the way that you’ll want to follow to ensure the project is a success. By doing so, you’ll be protecting your investment, experience a positive return on investment and ensure the roof is properly and safely installed. This buying guide is a collection of general information to help point you in the right direction when planning a new roof installation.
Things to Know to Get Started
- Pennsylvania Permits
- Hiring a Contractor in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Climate
- Types of Roofs
- Types of Roofing Materials
- Rebates for New Roofs in Pennsylvania
- Preparing Your Pennsylvania Home for a New Roof
- Unforeseen New Roofing Costs
In Pennsylvania cities, a permit from the building department is required for the installation of a new roof whether it is for new construction and the roof is brand new, or it is a replacement of a current roof. To find out what type of permit is needed, contact the building and development center for your city. Speak with a representative who can advise you on the type of permit needed, contractor requirements, inspections, and the cost of the permit. In many cities, homeowners have the option of applying in person or on the city website. You can also ask if the contractor doing the installation can take care of acquiring the permits and schedule any required inspections.
Hiring a Contractor in Pennsylvania
When you contact the city about permits and inspections, you should also find out what type of contractor will be allowed to do the project. In most cases, you’ll need a state licensed contractor who can show proof of having the appropriate certification, license, and insurance necessary for the installation of a new roof.
When selecting a roofing contractor, it is suggested that you don’t rely on just one. Take the time to call several companies and set up an appointment for an onsite estimate. The estimate should have a complete list of everything needed to do the job included, except for repairs. The basics include roofing materials, labor, transportation of labor, removal of old materials, any rental tools or machinery, and an explanation of the warranty coverage. Be sure to get a signed and dated copy of the estimate.
Ask each potential contractor for their license and insurance information. Check both to ensure they are current. You can use the free tool at the Pennsylvania Department of State website to input the contractor’s information to verify credentials. It’s also a good idea to check with your Better Business Bureau to find out if there are any negative comments about each contractor/business.
Once you decide on the contractor and you’re presented with a contract, double check that the information it contains coincides with the original estimate. If you’re required to pay an upfront portion of the total cost, it needs to be listed on the contract with a full explanation of what the money is paying for. The remaining balance should also be fully itemized.
The weather for your particular region is a factor when choosing roofing material. Some materials are better suited for cold, wet climates versus hot and humid areas. This is something you’ll want to discuss with the sales rep when selecting the roofing material for your home.
Pennsylvania’s weather statistics exceed the U.S. average when it comes to rainfall and snowfall. Overall, the state receives 130 days of precipitation which includes 42 inches of rain and 37 inches of snow. For sunny days, Pennsylvania receives 179 sun-filled days with high temperatures during the summer of 84 degrees. During the colder months, temperatures can fall to 19 degrees. A humidity level of 50 provides the state with a comfort level higher than the U.S. average of 44, which is good.
Types of Roofs in Pennsylvania
There are quite a few roof types featuring a variety of architectural styles. If you’re having a new home constructed, consider the type of roof that will provide you with the best opportunities for minimal maintenance, durability, and longevity. For a replacement roof, regardless of the type of roof your home currently has, there are many roofing materials available to suit your home’s particular style.
- Gable– one of the most commonly used and identifiable with its inverted “V”. This style is excellent source for ventilation.
- Cross Gabled– works well on homes with several wings. The multiple gables add a visually appealing architectural look.
- Flat– one of the easiest to construct and access when repairs are necessary. A flat roof requires adequate pitch to allow for water drainage and needs more maintenance that other styles.
- Skillion – similar to a flat roof with a downward sloping slant to prevent pooling water.
- Saltbox– this style has an asymmetrical pitch resulting in one side being long and the other side of the roof being short.
- Pyramid– the roof looks like a series of small pyramids installed over small roof areas.
- Hip– is similar to the pyramid. It consists of four sides and flat top.
- Additional roof styles include the arched, butterfly, gambrel, A-frame, bonnet, shed, and mansard styles.
Types of Roofing Materials
The following is a sampling of some of the most common types of roofing materials:
- Asphalt shingles are the least expensive of the roofing materials. The shingles are easier to install than other materials, durable, resilient, and found on many architectural styles. Asphalt shingles have a lifespan of 15 to 30 years.
- Clay and slate concrete tiles add a distinctive look to the home. The tiles are durable and long-lasting with slate lasting 50 to 100 years and clay lasting 50 years of more. Both are heavy and require framework for proper installation.
- Fiber-cement is a blending of concrete, clay, and wood fibers. It is durable, recyclable, fire proof and can last from 20 to 20 years. The material is not as heavy as clay or slate tiles.
- Metal roofing is available in copper, aluminum, or stainless steel and has a life expectancy of up to 50 years. Metal roofing is also recyclable which adds to the green credibility.
Rebates for New Roofs in Pennsylvania
One helpful website you will want to check is EnergyStar for federal tax credit information. A tax credit is available if you choose to have asphalt or metal roofing installed. Asphalt roofs must have cooling granules and metal roofs must have pigmented coatings. Both must meet the requirements set by Energy Star. The current tax credit is calculated at 10 percent of the material cost, not installation, and is up to $500.
Preparing Your Pennsylvania Home for a New Roof
The type of roofing material and the style of the roof on your home will be a determining factor in the total cost for the project. You’ll want to know what dollar figure to expect so you can have your finances in order. The estimated cost of a new roof can run from a few thousand dollars to well over $15,000+ depending on material type, size of the roof, and any pre-installation repairs.
It is also recommended to have any other types of exterior work, whether to the home or surrounding landscape, completed prior to the contractor and crew starting the project. Other projects may include an exterior paint job, trim touch-ups, replacement or installation of new soffits, replacing fascia boards that have been damaged, chimney repair, gutter cleaning, and trimming of over-handing tree limbs. Access to the roof may be required for many of these projects and you want to limit the amount of traffic across new roofing materials. All it would take is an accidentally dropped heavy tree limb to fall to damaging or puncturing the new roofing material.
The size of your home and the type of roof design are also factors in the length of time the project will take. Reroofing a home can take from 2 to 10 days, or longer, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Unforeseen New Roofing Costs
If the new roof is a replacement, there could be problems beneath the current roofing material that aren’t detected until the roof is inspected. There could be signs of leakage or wood rot. Both will need to be repaired before the installation project begins. The contractor will most likely not have included the cost of repairs in the initial estimate as there is no way of knowing what types of damage lie under the current roofing material until it’s removed. This is something you will want to discuss with your contractor once an estimate is given so you don’t incur repair costs that may be over and above your budget.
A new roofing project can be a significant investment and why it is in your best interest to understand the many pieces that put together a successful project. From the moment you hire a contractor and select your roofing material to the moment the last shingle or tile is placed, you can have peace of mind knowing your home is secure from the elements. A new roof also makes the interior of your home more energy efficient especially when your home is well insulated. Another benefit, along with the visual appeal of a new roof that complements the exterior color of the paint, is the value of your home increases immediately. For homeowners with future plans to sell their property a new roof is a solid selling point for potential buyers, especially when it has a significant lifespan. Consider the points in the checklist, do your homework, and ask questions if there is any part of the installation process that you do not understand.