Great info for central Texas home owners

Spring in Texas: Bulbs blooming. Hail pounding your roof. There’s nothing quite like that helpless, sinking feeling of wondering how many thousands of dollars you’ll be out or worrying about what’s happening to the new home you’re trying to buy.

Know what to do when hail and your roof meet

Understand your insurance policy and research roofing contractors before you need them.
By Judy Wiley – Special to The Austin American-Statesman

Spring in Texas: Bulbs blooming. Hail pounding your roof. There’s nothing quite like that helpless, sinking feeling of wondering how many thousands of dollars you’ll be out or worrying about what’s happening to the new home you’re trying to buy.

Unfortunately, no preventive measures exist to protect a roof. Even pricey high-impact shingles aren’t an absolute guarantee. But the people you might soon be dealing with — contractors, home inspectors and insurers — can offer insight into what to look for after a storm, how to deal with the damage and what steps to take toward getting it fixed.

“There are two ways people generally know they need a new roof,” says Gary Loyd, area manager and Central Texas division president for M & M Roofing, Siding and Windows. “Water leaking in the house, or everybody else in the neighborhood is getting a new roof.” If you’ve been out of town and hear roofers pounding away all around you after you get home, it’s wise to find out what the weather was like while you were gone and take a look at your property.

Just standing outside and looking at the roof won’t do much good, and neither will climbing up for a closer inspection unless the damage is severe, or you’re a roofer. A roof can be damaged to the point of needing replacement without appearing ruined to an untrained eye, Loyd says.

Contractors and insurance companies differ on exactly which expert to call. Loyd says some insurance companies will increase premiums if a claim is filed even if the adjuster doesn’t find damage.

Patti Kelly, a spokeswoman for State Farm Insurance in Austin, says that’s not the case for her company. The best solution: Call your insurer to find out about its policy so you’ll know what to do after a storm.

Another tip: Loyd suggests finding a good roofing contractor through the Better Business Bureau or references before you need one, so you’ll be ready to go when a catastrophe occurs. Having to screen contractors is a headache you don’t need if you already have a leaky roof.

A hailstorm doesn’t necessarily mean a new roof. Loyd says a lot of factors come into play. Older roofs typically sustain more damage. He notes that a roof covered in 20-year shingles that are 15 years old is more likely to develop problems than one covered in 30-year shingles last week.

In Texas, he says the lifespan of roofs is typically a little shorter than the year rating suggests. “With a three-tab, 20-year shingle, they’re lucky to get 15-16 years out of it,” he says. Thirty-year shingles last 22-24 years, 40-year shingles last about 33-34 years, he says.

Of course, the price goes up with the longevity, and it also rises depending on the cost of petroleum. Shingles are priced by the square, which is 10 feet by 10 feet, or 100 square feet. Three or four years ago, they ran about $45 a square for a 30-year shingle, Loyd says, and using middle-of-the-road shingles, a typical roof replacement was $3,500 to $5,000. Today, he says few roofs can be replaced for less than $10,000 to $12,000, with the price per square at $88-$90.

Impact-resistant shingles, which are designed to fare best of all in a hailstorm, run about $100 a square and up. Impact-resistant shingles might have a warranty of 30 to 50 years, and some carry lifetime warranties. Some insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners if they use Class 4 impact-resistant shingles, the highest rating.

If you’re looking at buying a new home, a home inspector can tell you what’s up there and what shape it’s in. Kenneth Larson of Austin Structural Inspections says he looks at whether the type of shingle is appropriate for the structure of the roof. He also checks for water damage in the attic and looks for hail damage.

Here are more tips from Kelly and Loyd on how to prepare for hail season:

– Have your roof checked for a few things that might be likely to fail and cause a leak, says Loyd, such as the caulk around plumbing vents. Also, he says, in the Texas heat, nails tend to back out a little from expansion and contraction, so finding popped nails and replacing any loose shingles could prevent a leak waiting to happen.

– Kelly says to review your insurance coverage and make sure it’s adequate. Make sure your company’s phone number is in a safe place.

– If damage occurs, she says to make any temporary repairs that can be made safely — covering a leak with a tarp, for example — to protect your belongings from further damage. Save receipts.

– An inventory of your belongings before they’re damaged is important for insurance replacement purposes. Videotape them and write down serial numbers. Keep any receipts for possessions.

– Go over your property and make a list of everything you want the adjuster to see, Kelly says.

– If you have to stay elsewhere, make sure to keep receipts for that as well.

Wiley, Judy “Know what to do when hail and your roof meet”
Special to The Austin American-Statesman. Published 8:37 a.m. Saturday, April 3, 2010.
http://www.statesman.com/business/real-estate/know-what-to-do-when-hail-and-your-516828.html

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