How to find a good Houston roofer. Everything you need to know about choosing a roofer and roofing in the greater Houston area.
Houston = heat, humidity, and hurricanes. That’s the formula to remember for what’s important about choosing a great roofer in Houston and the surrounding area – especially along the coastal communities and anywhere near the water. (Much of what we’ve written in our article Everything You Need to Know about Choosing a Great Roofer also applies to finding a good Houston roofer.)
First, you’ll feel a whole lot better doing business with a roofing contractor that has deep Houston roots – they’ll know more about Houston’s stormy relationship with tropical weather. Those of us who remember Hurricane Carla are showing our age. I remember chickens floating by at Grandma’s place. Some senior citizens recount second-hand horror stories about the 1900 storm. Back in 1979 tropical storm Claudette drowned Houston and set a world record for rainfall. Then there was Alicia. And so on.
Always try to avoid out-of-town roofers after a storm. They’ll come in like a flood -and they’ll be gone in a flash. They’re unfamiliar with Houston neighborhoods and codes, most especially TWIA (Texas Windstorm Insurance Association). A reputable local roofer will be willing to pull a permit, which is important. And local Houston roofers have secure, long-standing ties and experience with suppliers and insurance adjustors.
Family businesses are good choices; multi-generational ones are even better. Again, having grown up in the Houston area they’ll have a healthy respect for Houston’s vulnerability to big bad storms. Genuine family businesses in the Houston area might seem sparse but with a little digging you can find one. (Some family businesses choose not to market themselves as such.) We admit to a little bias here. We’re a 2nd generation family business, and we’re all from the Houston/Galveston area.
There are several established big name Houston roofing companies but bigger isn’t always better. (Trite but true.) However, on the upside, if your job goes awry, big companies usually have the resources to fix things. Make sure larger roofing companies work chiefly in Houston, and aren’t storm-chasers in disguise.
When you’re choosing a Houston roofer, keep in mind a license isn’t required. The average homeowner rarely buys a new roof, so finding a roofer in Houston can seem like the Wild West. Anybody can roof your home. Companies come and go. Steer clear of the “weekend warrior” types, unless you’re shopping for price only. (Cheap roofers may be tempted to take shortcuts, or go missing when a problem pops up.)
By the way, a Houston roofer usually works the entire Houston Area, including: Galveston, Baytown, Texas City, League City, Santa Fe, La Porte, Deer Park, Pasadena, Friendswood, Pearland, Alvin, Hitchcock, Bacliff, San Leon, the Clear Lake and Seabrook areas, Dickinson, Manvel, the Sugar Land area, Katy, the Channelview area ... and onwards past the north Beltway, including Spring, Tomball, Kingwood, and The Woodlands. Did we miss anyone?
Gun-nailed roofs aren’t a good idea in Houston. (Staples are long gone in the Houston area - so at least roofers who use guns shoot the real thing.) But hand-nailed is best. The quality is better, and it’s easier for TWIA inspectors to oversee and certify roofs (very important).
It’s also a good idea to strip off the old roof, down to the wood deck. (Another thing Houston area inspectors like to see.) Most quality contractors aren’t keen on ‘nail-overs’ either. Less weight on the roof is better, and shingles sit more snug on a smooth surface, which means more wind resistance. And most importantly, you can check the condition of the deck.
Composition shingles still dominate the residential roofing market, and that’s what’s on most Houston area homes. They’re inexpensive (relatively speaking). If you plan on sticking around consider some of the more durable and storm-resistant products, for example metal. Especially if you live along the coast or near the water. These ‘life-time roofs’ also increase home value.
If you use composition shingles buy the heaviest you can afford, meaning the highest warranty. They’ll hold better in the wind. What’s popular nowadays are the 30 and 40 year stain-resistant laminates (50 year is available). These are the famed imitation wood shake “Timberline” and “Prestique” shingles - terms often used generically to describe this particular style. Several brands are available. A good Houston roofer will help you with neighborhood codes, colors, etc.
When you look for a Houston roofing company, find one that’s familiar with high-wind installation. Ask them if they’re familiar with the TWIA code. Though not required inland in Houston as of this writing, TWIA inspections are an integral part of building and home improvements towards the coast due to storms.
The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), or a suitable engineer, inspects the installation of a roof and ensures a particular product is installed with the product’s own unique stipulations and guidelines for high-wind areas. Non-compliance with the TWIA code, meaning no certificate, can void your insurance, affect your mortgage, etc. (We’ve stripped off and re-shingled plenty of brand new roofs to get code compliance for homeowners whose roofer was misinformed.)
If the TWIA code is required in your area a reputable Houston roofer will tell you this and handle everything for you. Avoid any coastal county roofers who seem disinterested.
Actually most building inspectors and shingle manufacturers consider Greater Houston to be a high-wind area, as Hurricane Ike so aptly demonstrated to residents once again. All Houston area roofs should be installed per high wind guidelines whether it’s required by local municipalities or not. Hurricane Ike snapped trees as far inland as Katy where our family stayed. These storms can easily strip a nominally installed roof, leaving the entire interior of the home totally exposed.
Simply tell your roofer you want a TWIA roof. (Also called a “Texas Windstorm” roof.) They’re not hard to install, nor slower. You simply follow the shingle package directions for high-wind installation. If the roofer complains, offer to pay extra. Or call someone else whose repertoire includes installing roofs near the coast. This advice applies to new construction and commercial buildings as well. (Our company’s been installing new roofs this way for 20 plus years, at no extra charge, including six nails per shingle.)
If you’re building something brand new in the Houston area consider using your own roofer, rather than the contractor’s. (Unless you feel fairly comfortable with him or her.) Many builders, not all, shop the cheapest price. It may (or may not) cost a little more to get someone good, but you’ll have more control.
A quality roofer will assure quality materials, plus you’ll get a warrany that’s exclusive to the roof. We’ve often done touch-up work on brand new roofs because something was amiss, or the builder couldn’t be found.
Either way, voice your concern that the roof on your new building or home meets the TWIA high-wind code, to better ride out the next storm and minimize any damage to the inside. And if the time comes that you sell your property, you’ll have an advantage.
Finally, if you’re into green roofing Houston’s a cool place to do it. And Houston area roofers are ahead of the curve on this. We’ve been battling the heat for decades – you might be a little green already and not even know it. How cool is that? (‘Green’ and ‘cool’ are interchangeable terms in the construction world. They basically mean any manner of construction that saves energy or is durable and recyclable, thus ‘sustainable.’)
One-sixth of all electricity generated in the country – about $40 billion a year – is for air-conditioning. And since Houston’s been dubbed “the most air-conditioned city in the world,” we’re the bad-boy poster town for energy consumption, and squarely in the crosshairs of the environmental movement.
But you don’t have to be a member of the Sierra Club to want to lower your electric bill, especially in Houston. And an experienced Houston roofer can answer your questions and help clear up confusion about cooling down your roof and attic - and consequently the interior of your home or building. They’ll help you determine what’s just right for you, and be willing and ready to fix anything that’s amiss.
A good Houston roofing company will be familiar with all the exciting new (and old) ways to make energy-efficient changes to your home or building that will pay off handsomely for years to come, including relatively low-cost upgrades and ‘retrofits’ for existing roofs.
The technology is available today – not tomorrow – that can effectively transform your humble (and hot) roof and attic into a veritable heat-shield, and slice your energy bills in half. Imagine moving your entire house and parking it directly in the shade – just like your car! And feeling a little empowered yourself for a change, instead of the local utility company (while they wonder who pulled the plug at your place!)
There’s no better place than Houston for putting it all in place - where it makes real financial sense! Bookmark our website or subscribe to our upcoming blog, because we’ll be talking a whole lot about all the neat ways any Houstonian with a roof can save serious money on energy bills. It’s a hot topic that’s near and dear to the heart of any great Houston area roofer. Stay tuned. You may never look at your roof the same way again!
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