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Disaster Prep and First Response

Overhead Investment: 5 Things Homeowners Need to Consider When Buying a Roof

Photo: Courtesy of Andrej Lišakov

If a new roof is on your list of projects, be sure to consider the following five factors:

1. Body

“Treat the roof decision as a major purchase decision,” says Mark S. Graham, vice president of technical services for the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). “Typically, we like to choose roofing based on color and appearance but there are a lot of other things that go into it.” According to HomeAdvisor, a digital marketplace for homeowners, when installing a roof, most homeowners spend between $5,128 and $9,990, with the average price being $7,489.

2. Durability

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all roof,” says Graham, who estimates an asphalt shingle roof could last 20 to 25 years, while a slate tile could last twice as long. “The biggest bang for the buck for a homeowner on sustainability is to install a roof that’s going to last as long as possible,” he says. Spend more on materials that will go the distance and whenever possible, buy products that can be upcycled. Durable roofing materials are generally heavier and stronger than their competitors. Plus, they have longer warranties.

3. Fire and wind

Building codes dictate minimum fire-resistant roofing classifications. Roofing materials are classified as A, B and C with class A products being the most fire resistant. Wind resistance ratings are classified by wind speeds, and winds vary around the country. For example, in the Central United States, winds can be 90 to 110 mph, while those of hurricane-coastal areas can be 150 to 190 mph. “It’s basically picking a product that has a fire classification of A, B or C or a wind classification that’s commensurate with the area of the country that you’re in,” says Graham. Some areas of the country where wildfires are more prevalent, such as California, have recently been reclassifying codes to require more fire-resistant roofing materials. The same is happening in areas where storm and wind events are more frequent.

4. Hail and ice

Hail impact is a big concern in areas like Texas. Hail products are classified as 1, 2, 3 and 4, with class 4 being the most hail resistant. In northern climates, ice damning, where ice forms along shingles, can cause damage. Roofers can add an ice and water shield to protect the roof.

5. Energy efficiency

Adding attic insulation and ventilation are smart ways to boost energy efficiency and get warm, moist air out of the attic. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety created the FORTIFIED Home program, which uses fortified construction standards and methods to help strengthen homes from high winds, hurricanes and hail, as well as severe thunderstorms.

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