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  • Writer's pictureTerrell Wong

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Other Disasters

How hard is it to get a roofing quote?

One would think that an architect of 30 years would have no issues having a simple roof replaced. But the market is focused on doing the cheapest, fastest asphalt shingle roof the building code will allow. Being that the building code is simply the lowest quality allowable, I am always striving for better.

My problem it seems is that I have sufficient knowledge to require more of the contractors than what they typically are prepared to do. All I was asking for is a roof that lasts and one that is put on top of a durable substrate. (i.e. Don’t put the roof over rotting sheathing.) My requests were simple, I wanted my existing mossy asphalt shingles removed, the sheathing inspected and made right and then put a high quality standing seam roof on top.

No problems getting a roofer to come out to quote. NorStar showed up unannounced after requesting a quote online, never talked to me and never sent a quote. Muskoka Roofing came on time but due to a business meeting, I let my husband, who has no serious building knowledge, explain that we wanted a metal roof. We got a timely quote for asphalt over the existing asphalt and metal roof over the existing asphalt. Prices were too low to include removal of the existing asphalt and didn’t include ice and water shield or a weather protective barrier. I am not sure about you but a mossy asphalt roof is a key indicator of potential damage to the sheathing.

I then explained exactly what I wanted once the sheathing was exposed and repaired. Just 1 roll of ice and water shield 36” at the eaves with a 4” overlap onto the facia. Above that tar felt or other permeable weather proofing membrane. Include metal eaves flashing that slips over the fascia with a drip edge and eaves troughs with integrated leaf protection. No problem said Muskoka Roofing we will re-quote.

The quote came back and for the most part was what I expected but they wanted to cover the whole roof with ice and water shield. I know why they do this…. It’s because most people have leaky ceilings and the roofing company does not want to hear that the roofers screwed up because there are ice dams everywhere. Understandable - the ice dams are caused by the leaky ceiling that the roofers have no control over. Still no quote from NorStar…..

I am becoming pain in the ass potential client as I explain why I only want 1 roll of ice and water shield. I explain that my ceiling has no pot lights and I intend in the future to insulate and air seal it. I don’t want to limit my options with a vapour impermeable roofing membrane. The answer was a few days coming and curtly said that the building code requires ice and water shield. I know you probably don’t have a copy of the Ontario Building Code on your night side table, but I assure you it never mentions products by name or requires their use. There is a portion of the code discussing eaves protection but that is for shingles and shakes. Metal roofing is a whole other animal. Being the pain in the ass know-it-all that I am, I replied that I was unaware of this provision for metal roofing and could they send me the code reference. Radio silence…. Eventually I was informed that they were full for the Fall and if I still wanted a roof I could try in the Spring. Still no quote from NorStar so in desperation I call them…

I asked the gentleman who took the time to measure my roof a month before why I had not ever received a call or a quote. I don’t think I got an answer so I brushed it off because I was desperate. I explained exactly what I wanted and asked for a quote. Two weeks later nothing so I called again and it was the vapour permeability of the weather barrier that was causing him trouble. He didn’t think it jived with the owners ideas of roof design. I pressed the issue and said get me a quote. Two days later a quote silently slipped into my mail box. The quote was a great big fat middle finger! I could get two luxury metal roofs for the price he quoted, $42,000.00 for a 1500sf bungalow roof. I was at a total loss as to stay silent or give them a piece of my mind! What a waste of both of our times. I have shared this quote with all my contractor and architect friends. It is always the same shocked reaction. I may frame it as a memento in my office.

I am happy to say that I have found someone who understands building science who is willing to do as I ask. The rammed earth crew of Aerecura are taking a Muskoka holiday to re-roof my cottage. They build the roofs for all their projects. Probably for the same reasons I found! I guess the local crews are just to busy doing the cheapest, fastest roofs that have to be replaced in less than 20 years. Until consumers get educated on their most valuable possession and demand more nothing will change. Remember the market responds to you not the other way around.

#ontario #sustainabledesign #roofing

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