Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 24 June 2008 15:21
Every cloud has a silver lining. For some homeowners, contractors and material suppliers, that includes a hail cloud.
In the aftermath of a couple of hail incidents over the past month and a half, Hillsboro is in the midst of a re-roofing boom.
From May 12 through June 19, 51 building permits had been issued through the city of Hillsboro for re-roofing jobs, with a total estimated value surpassing $720,000.
And the boom is likely to continue as word of potential roof damage spreads from homeowner to homeowner.
One homeowner, who asked not to be identified, said it hadn’t occurred to him to call in an insurance adjuster. Then he heard secondhand that a neighbor a couple of doors down had enough roof damage to warrant replacement.
“I figured we had nothing to lose, so I called an adjuster out, and turns out our roof was totaled, too,” he said.
The adjustor discovered that the roof still had wood-shake shingles underneath the damaged three-tab asphalt shingles.
Hillsboro building code requires that wood-shake shingles be removed before reshingling a roof—which is a significant additional expense.
But, because the homeowner had a replacement-value clause in his policy, the insurance company will cover the cost of the entire job—estimated at over $14,000—after a $250 deductible.
“We could have never afforded to repair the roof if hadn’t been for our policy,” the homeowner said.
Ben Steketee, building inspector for the city of Hillsboro, said homeowners and contractors need to be aware of the city’s roofing rules.
“The rules are if you have one layer of shingles, you can put on one more layer,” he said. “But once you have two layers, you have to take them all the way down to the plywood and start over.
“If you have wood-shake shingles, they have to come off,” he added. “You can’t layer on top of wood-shake shingles. That’s a fire hazard.”
Steketee said building codes—including the one requiring a building permit before doing any repair work—might seem to be a nuisance to a homeowner, but they’re on the books for a good reason.
“The reason we want to make sure they get a permit, and that the roof gets inspected, is that roofs are designed to only hold up so much of a load,” Steketee said. “If you start stacking layers of shingles on top of your roof rafters, and then snow on top of that, you can overstress the roof.”
The roof could collapse.
“It’s like all building codes—they’re really there to protect the person who is living inside the dwelling,” Steketee added. “It does seem sometimes like it’s a nuisance, but it’s a necessary nuisance.”
In addition to issuing building permits, Steketee’s job includes making sure all roofing contractors are licensed with the city before they begin any project—an important protection for homeowners.
Steketee said he has not received any reports of questionable contractors in town—so far.
“There was one company that was making some claims that didn’t seem to be correct,” he said. “We got that straightened out, and they are now licensed and not making those claims anymore.”
As of last week, 40 companies and individuals are on the city’s list of licensed contractors. But only 10 were listed as applying for re-roofing permits.
A quick call to city hall can confirm whether a contractor is licensed or not.
“A lot of roofing contractors have recently been licensed,” Steketee said. “If you’ve seen their (company) signs around for a while, they’re probably licensed, because I’m looking for signs every day.
“When I see a new sign, I make sure I find out who they are and whether they’re licensed or not. If they’re not, then I assist them in getting licensed.”
Steketee said contractors, rather than the homeowner, usually are the ones to apply for the required building permit. But every job requires a permit—even if the homeowner does it himself.
“A homeowner can do anything to their own house,” Steketee said. “Still, they need to get a permit and make sure that it gets inspected and gets conformed to the codes.”
Finding a reputable contractor is the No. 1 one word of advice from Jon Hefley, co-owner of The Lumberyard, a primary supplier of shingles and building materials in Hillsboro.
“Check and double check them, and make sure it’s not a fly-by-night deal or something,” he said.
“The guys around here have been very good,” Hefley said. “I’ve known a lot of these crews for a lot of years. I know what they’re doing, and they do good work.
“Around here, Ben (Steketee) keeps an eye on that really well.”
Though he admits the recent surge in shingle sales has helped his business, Hefley said the economic impact isn’t as great as the onlooker might think.
“We’re definitely selling a lot of shingles,” he said. “But you don’t make that much on shingles, especially on the way you stack roofs. Yeah, it helps, but it’s not going to make you much money.”
Hefley said the Heritage-style shingle seems to be a popular choice for many homeowners over the traditional three-tab asphalt style.
“A lot of people are switching up to the Heritage line,” he said. “It’s just a heavier, laminated shingle and adds another 10 years (to the traditional 20-year life expectancy of three-tab asphalt shingles). It’s about $10 a square more.”
Hefley said he expects the re-roofing trend to continue in Hillsboro for a while yet—even with no additional hail storms this season.
“It will go through the whole summer,” he said.