Just because San Diego is blessed with so many days of sunlight doesn’t mean your roof will last forever. Despite what you may have seen on TV, a hurricane or snowstorm isn’t the only thing that can do damage to the top of your house. It’s true that our San Diego homes don’t have to withstand the weight of ice in the winter or the threat of tornadoes — but the sun and Santa Ana winds still wear down your roof over time. Repairing your roof piecemeal works for a while, but eventually it will be time for a replacement.
How do you know if you’ve found the right roofer in America’s Finest City? There are a few ways to narrow down the field and make sure you’re working with the best. Here are seven things to look for in a roofing contractor in San Diego.
1. Knowledge of Energy Efficient Practices
Heat rises, so it’s no shocker that 25% of heat in your home is lost through the roof. Come colder months, that translates to increased utility bills and draftier rooms. A good San Diego roofing contractor will consider the implications for energy efficiency when they’re planning your roof replacement. The contractor you trust should not only work to stop heat from escaping, but also talk to you about harnessing the San Diego sun and turning it into cheaper energy via solar power. Your contractor should be able to answer questions about:
- How solar panels could make you more energy independent
- Ways you can improve your property to make your roof a better host for solar panels for your home, such as tree trimming
- How best to ventilate your roof to allow excess heat to escape in the summer while avoiding moisture build-up in the winter
- The right insulation for your roof
Inland homes may have different ventilation needs than beach properties, so talk to your contractor specifically about how they’ve made homes in your area more energy efficient. Solar power in San Diego is a great option for most properties in the city, and most new homes built beginning in 2020 must have solar.
2. Success with Heat-Friendly Roofs
If you’re living in East County or near a canyon that traps summer heat, your roof can either deflect the oppressive temperature or absorb it. If you’re like most San Diegans, you’d rather your roof panels send UV where it belongs — away from your house. A good San Diego roofing contractor will know how to build you a heat-friendly roof. This process is sometimes called making a “cool roof.”
There are a few ways your knowledgeable contractor can design a roof that keeps your home cooler in the summer. Before you hire someone, make sure they have successfully completed the project using clay and terracotta to naturally block desert heat. Your project should also use light-colored tiles that deflect heat rather than absorbing it.
Most SoCal contractors work exclusively in these materials, but it’s still good to ask. Any contractor who isn’t focused on offering temperature control your home via light cooling materials may not be a good fit for a San Diego home.
3. The Right Credentials
Not all roofing contractors are created equal, and they’re not all licensed the same way, either. You might think that credentials are the contractor’s problem, but the absence of proper licensing could bite you as well if something goes wrong. When you’re looking for a roofing contractor in San Diego, don’t be timid about asking exactly which licenses and protections they have a for their business. Your neighborhood handyman may swear he’s good with roofs, but he is unlikely to be covered by:
- General liability insurance: This insurance covers any expenses that result from an accident or unexpected damage. A roofer drops something, it falls through the skylight, and damages your bathtub? General liability coverage will handle it so you’re not stuck with the bill.
- Workers’ compensation: You don’t want to be responsible for the medical bills of a roofer who hammered his thumb, do you? No one does! If your contractor has workers’ comp insurance you’re not responsible. If you hire a random Jack-of-All-Trades and he gets injured… you could be in serious legal trouble and find yourself responsible for his medical bills.
- Warranties: A good roofing contractor will only use materials that are covered by a manufacturer warranty, and they will offer a warranty on their own work as well. Protections against product malfunctions and installation mistakes are important. Quality contractors stand behind their work and their materials.
4. Thorough Bid Details
We all want to save money, but the lowest bid you receive may not be the best. There are tons of roofers in San Diego County, many of whom are willing to offer a low-ball bid to win your business. Unfortunately, they may add on unexpected costs later or offer sub-par work so they still turn a profit.
Does your potential contractor offer a detailed, itemized bid? Is there a built-in buffer for unexpected delays or other problems? Do you have a promise for the use of certain materials in writing? Is every step carefully scoped and accounted for on the bid? A thorough bid protects all parties from surprises and arguments.
In San Diego, a detailed bid should also include price options for slate versus terracotta (or other heat-deflecting materials). Any time a contractor is being mysterious about how they will bill for an item you should ask more questions before agreeing.
5. A Strong Local Presence
Just because you’ve seen the same roofing flyer 100 times at your local Better Buzz doesn’t mean that’s the contractor you should choose — but a roofing contractor with a history in San Diego is a good sign. San Diego roofing contractors understand that a Santee homeowner is going to have unique heat concerns and that an Alpine homeowner may have specific questions about how smoke from regional fires could affect their roof tiles.
A good local roof contractor will also know that beach dwellers should avoid metal on their roofs because salt water and aluminum don’t mix. How long has your potential roofer been working in San Diego? City knowledge can translate to a much better experience for you as a homeowner and a superior end product.
6. Plans for Unexpected Repairs
You’ve already evaluated your contractor’s detailed bid, which should include a small budget for unexpected repairs. But what is the contractor’s specific game plan for dealing with those annoying and (seemingly) unavoidable ad hoc repairs that arise along the way? Your roofer doesn’t know exactly what they’re going to find when they pull up your old tiles. Do they already have supplies on hand to cope with rotted wood or other repairs? If they order materials as they’re needed, the project deadline will likely need to be pushed.
Ask your potential contractor how they plan to remain within scope in the face of surprise repairs. Can they bring in extra help and what would that cost? In San Diego, the difference between completing your project in December and working on it in January is more than an inch of rainfall.
7. Examples of Past Work as a Roofing Contractor in San Diego
Sometimes the most convincing evidence is photos of the work your contractor has already completed in your neighborhood. If you know someone who has used this contractor, drive by their house and (without asking to climb onto a stranger’s roof) check it out. Your contractor should also be able to provide photos of roofs they’ve completed on homes similar to yours. A roofer may be great at working on small one-story ranch-style homes but are they ready to handle your multi-level townhome with three roof surfaces? Get proof before you proceed! Quality contractors are proud to show off their success and they understand your apprehensions.
Are you ready to upgrade your roof in San Diego? Semper Solaris handles complete roof replacements, but we can make your roof solar ready. Go from dependent on the grid and dealing with rain leaks to generating solar power under a new terracotta roof!