Ryan Bleser - Photo by Bob Pennell

Q & A: How has the roofing industry weathered the storm?

Q: What did the decline in the residential building market do to the roofing industry?

A: Substantially. A lot. It affected everyone in the industry, although roofing remained important because it's the one component that protects the rest of your home. So we ended up either doing a lot of repairs or reroofing jobs. In years past, when the economy was up, we would be out three, four or five months for residential jobs. Now, it's 30 days, and we're into the summer. We stayed busy, especially in the commercial market, mainly because there were a lot of remodels. There's enough residential work to where we have 10 employees working and keeping their families fed — and that's a big plus.

Q: What's the most expensive aspect of roofing, materials or labor?

A: I'd say it's about 50/50. Oil has skyrocketed, and it's a base element of composite products and labor is huge part in our industry. It's really tough right now, because a lot of guys are cheating the system, paying under the table, not carrying liability and doing things to survive. But doing that just to keep low numbers doesn't get you anywhere and does nothing but cause trouble. Make sure you hire a roofer who is covered by workman's compensation. Do your homework and research them online. I've heard horror stories about liability when it comes to hiring someone who wasn't licensed. A contractor needs to have more than a license, they need to show proof of worker's comp. He can be licensed, but his employees might not be covered, so you need to check both sides of the fence.

Q: How much has roofing technology changed in the past 35 years?

A: The old technology is still alive and well, but there has been a lot of research and modifiers when it comes to asphalt shingles, giving them more longevity. Now there is thermal plastic and ultraviolet reflection, as well. These systems are fantastic in helping homeowners save in energy costs. We've pretty much done away with hot tar, even though it's a great system, because you have to carry a lot higher liability coverage when you work with it. For flat roofs, we've gone to thermal plastic. Appearance has changed, too; it's just amazing the kind of Victorian and designer shingles you can buy. There's a huge array of choice in color, too.

Q: For the money, what's the best for longevity wear and tear?

A: Composition shingles are Class A fire-rated, and manufacturers are stepping up, offering 30-year roof systems with a 50-year full replacement in writing at market costs. It's a consumer's market, and they are doing all they can to please the consumer.

Q: Do people make roofing choices primarily for financial reasons or taste?

A: The No. 1 factor is financial. It's a major cost in a remodel of a home or business. For a typical 1,200-square-foot house, the tear-off and replacement will be $5,000. For a 2,500-square-foot house, depending on other factors, it's about double. When you have a roof that's more cut up in its design, it can affect the price a little.

Q: What are the advantages and limitations of different kinds of roofing material?

A: New-growth wood shingles just don't last. Honestly, we do very little wood any more because it's very costly and the longevity is not that of composition. Wood shingles are still used for more Victorian, old-style homes you see in Ashland and Jacksonville. You can buy those treated to where they have more longevity. With the exposure wood shakes get, they are more susceptible to drying and curling. They deteriorate quickly in an area like this, and they have to be replaced in 10 or 20 years. In coastal areas, they are more effective because they stay damp.

Composite shingles always have a Class A fire rating, and the selection and appearance is now amazing. They weigh 25 to 30 pounds per square foot while metal is less, and tile can weigh as much as 90 pounds per square foot.

We do a lot of metal, it's another great roof choice. The advantage is appearance and a 20- to 30-year warranty. With paint, metal lasts a long time. But the right kind of paint finish is another thing a consumer wants to research and make sure the finish is durable and warranted. You see metal a lot more on commercial reroofs, and it is used a lot in high-mountain areas where there is snow. It can be installed, with the right vapor barriers, to achieve a Class A rating.

Tile costs more than metal or composition — more than double in cost. You also want to make sure the building is designed to carry the weight.

Q: Are there advantages of reroofing at the same time as your neighbors?

A: Mainly if the contractor treats the sale as a discount. The advantage for the contractor is that they don't have to move their equipment around. If someone wants to tear off their own roof, we're versatile. It's a very hard job, but once in awhile people are willing to do the work. A lot of people just want to do a turn-key approach.

Q: Is there a best time of the year for a roof job?

A: We work all year because this is a banana-belt region. My guys don't miss more than a couple weeks a year due to weather. This year we had an extremely late winter, and we missed more time than normal.

Reach Mail Tribune business editor Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com. Follow him @GregMTBusiness on Twitter.

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