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Podcast: How To Get What You Want From Your Building Contractor

Posted May 24, 2017 by Daniel White

In this episode, Daniel talks about working with contractors. If you are in the middle of building a new home, or if you plan on doing so in the future, he has some very helpful tips for what to look for and ask for when discussing your options with contractors.

Podcast Transcription- RoofLifeB022-173:

Shayla: You are listening to the Roof Life of Oregon podcast and I’m talking with Daniel today. Daniel, tell me how you can navigate working with builders and how you could maybe avoid ending up with a leak.

Daniel: You know, that’s a really good subject. I was just talking to a coworker recently about my experience having my house built and so let me back up a little bit to a house I just looked at that had a leak this winter. You know we had crazy amount of rain this year. And I get to this roof, and it has what’s called a closed cut valley and that’s where the shingles roll under and then the next set of shingles go over the top and they’re trimmed back and when you have two different pitches, the steepness of the roof, one steep and then it connects to a lower pitch, that close cut needs to go a certain direction. So as the water’s coming off the steep roof hitting the lower the slope, you want the closed cut over the top. These guys did it opposite. So for the last seven years, the water’s been feeding underneath the shingles. And this is one of those things that if the builder, if they were paying more attention to their teams, or telling them, “Hey, I want it to go this way,” you wouldn’t have that problem.

The homeowner even say, “Hey, this hasn’t been a problem for year. Why is it happening now?” Well, because it takes seven to ten years for that water to constantly hit those nails underneath, rust them out, and then you start having a leak, especially with the amount of water we had. Well, having that conversation made me think about my experience with my house being built. My house is sixteen years old. It’s the exact same age as my daughter. My wife was pregnant when we were having the house built. And every day after work I would come down the hill, come take a look at the house and see how it was doing.

And I know that those poor guys hated me, because they’d see my van coming down the hill and go, “Oh, God, here he comes again. He’s going to make us change something.” And I would. I have the ability to know what needs to be done, because I’m in the industry. But how many homeowners have no idea that something is wrong? So for me, I knew it was wrong when I came down the hill. So simple example, they wrapped the house with Tyvec because they put the siding on and there’s a simple thing. You have the wall, you do the paper on the wall and then you put the next layer over the top. These guys had it backwards, so if water got behind the siding, it would fuddle behind the paper, cause a leak down inside. I wouldn’t know for years. It’s one of those things. I made them fix it when I got there. I was really nice about it, but I know they hated it.

Here’s another example with roofing. I live in Vancouver. And I live right next to Camus and so we have the Gorge winds that come out of the same direction all the time, it’s constant. The trees are growing at an angle because the wind always blows that way. The builders aren’t aware of the problem with the wind out there. They just have the roofers come out, they hire usually the cheapest contractor to put the roof on, and walk away. All the ridge caps, the very top piece to the house, on all the houses, were pointing in the direction of the wind. Well, guess what happens in a few years with the wind constantly blowing on those ridge caps pointed the wrong way? I made them change mine. Turn those things around the other way and they didn’t understand why I was telling them until I had to explain. The wind blows this way all the time. Sure enough, sixteen years later, we’re still living in that house, guess whose house still has the ridge caps and whose houses don’t have the ridge caps? And that’s one of those things that a homeowner just isn’t going to know. A lot of builders aren’t going to know it.

So when you’re house built, maybe ask professionals that like Roof Life of Oregon, we’ve been doing this for over thirty-five years now, “Hey, can you guide me with this?”  Ask friends. I had this same conversation about the same exact thing. What would you do different now that you’ve had your house built versus the last time? So this was the first time I’ve ever built it. I had a buddy call, love him to death, and he has the exact same model as I do, but he had it built a few years before me. And I asked him, “What would you do different?” And he said, “Your hose bib.” And I said, “What do mean by that?” He said, “They’re going to put your hose bib right by your front door. Every time I come, I have this hose wrapped around on a hook right in front of my front door. I hate it.” He’s right. I look around the neighborhood and they’re all like that. I made them move it around to the other side. It’s these simple things.
Ask somebody that just had a hose built. What would you do different? Ask a roofing contractor like Roof Life. What would you do in this environment? Rather than just let the builder do it.

Shayla: So if someone’s listening and they’re about to have their roof built, installed, and they’re kind of taking notes of what to ask about, should they ever be afraid to ask those questions or should they be kind of asking questions the entire time their roof is being built?

Daniel: Being through that myself, having my own house built, asking questions is definitely the right thing. Who are the contractors that are going to work on it, how are they going to work on it, what are they going to do to put it on there, can I see what you’re going to have them do? What are the code requirements? When my house was built, the code let them use staples. That’s changed now. Where I live now, you have to use nails and you have to use five of them. Find out what those codes are. Make sure the builder is doing what they’re supposed to do in your area. Ask those questions. Builders should be able to answer them for you.

Shayla: That’s another good point, you said, you know, when your roof was being installed, the builders, maybe the contractors didn’t understand your area. Roof Life is really familiar with every single area that you work in, right?

Daniel: That’s correct. I know right when I get into an area what I’m going to deal with. If I go into Troutdale or Gresham, I know I’m going to have wind damage over there. If I get into Lake Oswego, I know I’m going to have trees and moss everywhere. So we do know the areas and what’s going on in those areas, absolutely.

Shayla: What kind of things do you do to make sure you’re putting on the right roof for that specific home?

Daniel: We look at the environment. We look at trees, we look at wind, we look at the different factors. We love wood shakes, we absolutely love them, but if you’re in an environment that has a canopy over your house and you’re going to have to blow this thing off all the time, maybe that’s not a good option for you. If you live in a valley that the wind just comes cooking down, put a higher quality. Instead of using a third year, pay just a little bit more and get that fifty year malarkey legacy. It’s designed for high wind. It’s the number one shingle at the coast. So look at the environment, look at where you are, and make the decisions on what you’re going to do based on where you live.

Shayla: So if someone sees you out at there house, should they feel comfortable coming up and asking you lots of questions and kind of pay that forward?

Daniel: Absolutely. Everyone here will answer any questions you ask us.

Shayla: Alright. So if you are in the market for a new roof, make sure you, first of all, the easiest thing to do is to hire someone really experienced who knows what they’re doing right away, but don’t be afraid to ask those questions, avoid some of those mistakes on your roof. If you have anymore questions for the team at Roof Life, reach out to them today.



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