Have you ever wandered out into your yard after a storm and noticed a single, shining shingle (say that five times fast!) lying there in the middle of your grass? Bad rain and hailstorms can damage your roof, but even strong winds can cause enough damage to warrant a roof repair or replacement.
Determining Wind and Hail Damage
In addition to stumbling across shingles where they shouldn’t be, there are a few other ways to spot roof damage:
- If there is visible debris separated from your roof, such as loose shingles or metal fascia in the yard, you need to check out the rest of your roof.
- You should also look for small dimples in your shingles called hail spots. Frequently, insurance companies determine if you need a roof replacement vs. a roof repair based on the number of hail spots within a certain square footage. Contact your insurance company to determine what that threshold is.
- You might not think too much about the siding of your house after a hailstorm because it is supposedly protected by the roof. However, hail can bounce back and hit the side of your house, causing some significant damage. If the siding is extensively damaged, it is possible that the roof was also damaged during the storm. Vinyl siding is particularly vulnerable to damage from hail.
- If you suspect roof damage after a large storm, go to the attic as soon as possible and see if there are any visible water stains. Identifying damage right after a storm can be key in settling insurance claims because then the adjusters can’t suggest that the water damage had occurred another time. Document your findings with photographs.
- While George of the Jungle swings on trees, trees can do some swinging of their own during storms—right into your home. If there is visible damage from a tree limb hitting your roof, you may need to contact a general contractor with a roofing license, since there may be hidden structural problems in addition to your roof damage.
Working with Insurance
If you’re planning on working with your insurance agent to settle a roof claim, contact them first before scheduling contractors or repair work. Most of the time, adjusters need to take pictures of the damage before you can file a claim. Work with your insurance company to document any damage that may have occurred during a storm so that you don’t have issues with your claim later.
After you have successfully documented damage, it may be necessary to temporarily protect your home by tarping your roof and covering damaged windows. If you choose to do this yourself, be sure to keep the receipts for anything you buy because many insurance companies will cover the cost of these expenses.
Finding a Contractor
Finding a contractor can often be one of the most stressful aspects of a roof repair or replacement after a storm. If you’re working with your insurance, they may have preferred contractors that they work with regularly, but often, the burden of finding a contractor lies with the consumer. Here are some tips for finding a reputable contractor in your area:
- Check your local licensing requirements, particularly after a large-scale storm. Many municipalities will vet contractors entering an area after a large storm to make sure that citizens aren’t taken advantage of by fly-by-night operations. Ask for your contractor’s licensing information when interviewing them. If they are unlicensed, do not do business with them. Steering clear of unlicensed contractors not only supports licensed professionals, but it also protects you from liability as the consumer.
- Ask the contractor about their insurance. Different contractors require different insurance, but a good contractor should be insured and be able to provide a certificate of insurance if requested. Since they will be working on your property, you want to be sure that they are covered in case of an accident so that you are not held liable.
- A well-thought-out fall protection plan is what separates professionals from amateurs, particularly in the residential construction world where many contractors are willing to play fast and loose with OSHA’s fall protection policies. According to OSHA standards, any employee working above 6’ in the construction industry is required to be tied-off, or adequately protected from falling hazards, so ask how the contractor will implement their fall protection plan on your roof. No fall protection plan? Find another contractor.
Picking the right materials
A roof repair after a wind or hail storm is a good opportunity to upgrade your roof before the next storm. Traditional “3-tab” shingles are often the least expensive, but composition shingles resist damage better than traditional asphalt varieties. Metal roofs are hardier, and your homeowner’s insurance may even offer incentives for you to choose that route. Before making any decisions, check with your insurance company to see if there are any rebates or discounts for choosing one roofing material over another.
The “Do’s and Don’ts”
- Contact your insurance company right away to determine whether filing a claim is the right thing to do, and then follow their instructions for filing a claim.
- Document any purchases you make while filing your claim.
- Find a licensed, insured, safety-conscious contractor.
- Do any work yourself before contacting your insurance. This can possibly void your claim.
- Hire an unlicensed contractor or a contractor who is willing to “pay your deductible.” These are often non-locals who prey upon storm victims.
- Risk your health, safety, or sanity by working in an unsafe manner. Falls account for a significant portion of construction deaths each year, so don’t expose yourself to unnecessary risk.
At the end of the day, when a significant storm hits your roof, be sure to evaluate if there is any damage to your home. It is often your single largest asset, and protecting that investment is in your best interest. Hiring a reputable contractor is a key part of protecting your long-term investment as well as your family.