Dear readers: How's your roof after the recent hailstorms? If you live in a hail zone, you should have it checked - but probably not by the folks who undoubtedly are ringing your doorbell. Chances are, many of these companies are so-called storm chasers, going from region to region following bad weather patterns.
After you hire them and get the new roof, they might take off and not be around for any follow-up work. Bottom line: You're much better off to deal with local, long-established roofing companies.
It can be difficult to recognize the local companies because sometimes storm chasers pay a large fee to co-opt the name of a local company for a few months. Start with this assumption: If they contact you directly, chances are they are storm chasers - especially if they want you to sign a contract immediately. One other clue is to look for out-of-state license plates on the vehicles and magnetic signs that can be changed to fit the locale. You also can ask to see their local building department license and a proof of insurance card (worker's compensation and liability are a must).
In the roofing business, references are a big deal. The local wholesale roofing supply company, and even some manufacturers, will issue written recommendations to good roofing contractors.
Call your insurance agent to get a claim started and to gather some names of reputable companies. As long as the roof isn't leaking, you can take your time. Ask your agent for the deadline to start a claim.
Get at least three estimates in writing. Take the first one, black out all the pricing and copy it as a specification sheet for the next two bids. That way, you'll have an "apples to apples" comparison.
Some contractors will want to know the name of your insurance company and the amount of your settlement, but those details need not be shared. You'll get a better price if they don't know how much money is available.
Dear Ken: The floor in my family room has sunk along the edges. Is this something I need to worry about? - Pat
Answer: This is fairly common in older houses. When the house was constructed, the builder didn't adequately compact and tamp the soil around the edges (when the foundation is new and vulnerable, it's imprudent to get machines too close to the outside walls).
Fast forward to your circumstance, and you can see how the concrete might collapse and settle an inch or two. In most cases, this is not a worrisome event; it's mostly cosmetic. Since the furniture in most rooms is along the outside walls, this phenomenon is mostly hidden.
It's not hard to fix. If you have carpet in your family room, have an installer roll it back and add another layer or two of pad. That might visually level that floor. Another approach is to trowel in a layer of cement-based floor patching material. You mix this stuff up in a bucket and smooth it into place. If yours is hard surface flooring, this is much more difficult. You'll have to remove it and reinstall it after the floor is leveled.
Dear Ken: Should you paint stucco? Or do I need to add another layer on my house? - Bill
Answer: It's fine to paint aging stucco. You have two basic choices. A good exterior latex, flat house paint is an excellent choice. Choose the highest quality material in a given paint manufacturer's line. The Cadillac of finishes is elastomeric paint. This stuff has a rubberized base that stays flexible as the stucco expands and contracts with temperature. It lasts longer than paint but is quite expensive.
Ken Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His radio show airs at 9 a.m. Saturdays on KRDO (AM 1240 and FM 105.5). Visit him at aroundthehouse.com.