How to Find a Roofer

One of the most stressful phases of the renovation and retrofit of Hammond Forever House is behind us.

We have a roof thanks to Maple Ridge Roofing who did a great job.

The water that was dripping through the house from the leaky temporary covering has left mold visible on the basement ceiling in several places and damage to the original ceiling wallpaper in the living room and dining room. As the house dries out, we only hope more damage does not reveal itself.

The interior will not dry completely until the exterior is completely sealed, but at least we will be able to sleep on those stormy nights.

We hired Maple Ridge Roofing the way you might expect: we got quotes from a few companies and chose the best one. It sounds simple but without a knowledgeable and experienced neighbour we would have been lost.

IMG_1879Here’s what I learned about hiring people to work on your house. A company gives you a quote and describes what is included in that price. You make sure that the other quotes you receive include the same work and the same quality of materials, and then make your decision. The company cannot then charge you a higher amount unless there has been some unforeseen complications or you ask them to do more work than was included. Either way, you have to sign something agreeing to the extra cost before the work is done.

So when a company takes the time to give you a free estimate, you should thank them because they are giving you the tools you need to make your decision. They don’t get paid for giving quotes.

Here’s how it happened with us.

This is not a roof.
This is not a roof.

In a hurry to stop the water damage, I used google to find Maple Ridge Roofing and contacted them via their website. Mike responded right away and the next day he and his partner took a look and made some recommendations including a special impermeable underlay for the back section of the roof which has a low slope (water will not run off it as fast).

The existing roof was done in August, 2000 for about $6500, but that was with new plywood sheeting installed, too. Leanne’s parents insisted on fibreglass shingles (not asphalt) and a plywood sheeting underneath. The shingles had a 25 year warranty and that was 15 years ago so we were thinking we would only replace the rear half of the roof to save money. I asked them for a quote for half the roof and Mike responded:

Hi James,

Thank you for having us out to look at your roof.
From the pictures I took on my phone of the drawings I have approximated 1,1500 SQF including 3% waste for the area of roof needing to be installed.

Roof Installation includes:

-Supply all materials, supplies and labor needed to complete the work.
-Installation of Self-adhering peel n stick underlayment

Certainteed Landmark Shingles
Certainteed Landmark Shingles

-Installation of new asphalt composite roofing system. Algae Resistant Certainteed Landmark shingle Approximately 1,500.0 SQFT(inc 3% waste)
-Installation of upgraded high profile capping. Approximately 33.0 LNFT
-Installation of wall flashing. Approximately 23.0 LNFT
-Installation of step flashing. Approximately 24.0 LNFT
-Disposal or recycling of any waste materials and debris generated during the work.
-Roof and grounds as clean or cleaner than prior to contractual work.
Subtotal: $3,229.00
GST(5%): $161.45
Total: $3,390.45

This price includes the installation of a peel and stick underlayment as discussed due to the low slope (3/12) Here is a link to the underlayment that will be used

If you decide not to go with this underlayment then we will be using Titanium UDL 25 and will minus $200 of the quoted price.
Here is a link to the titanium UDL 25

To re-do the front existing roof would be an additional $1,855.
This would include tear off and disposal of existing roof.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

With snow in the forecast for the weekend, I was ready to hire them, but our neighbour, who worked for a roofing company for years, told Leanne,

Tell Jim to slow down.

She also told us we were crazy not to do the whole roof (but you were already thinking that, weren’t you?) and she also explained the following:

Also asphalt shingles are not to be used, if you can even find them. They are paper backed and embedded in asphalt. They last 15 to 20yrs max. Fiberglass shingles are fiberglass backed and last a minimum of 30 years, usually far longer and that is why they have a lifetime warranty. They are far more durable than asphalt and cheaper because they are mass marketed.

This was corroborated by the Interweb (weird that both a fibreglass shingle and an asphalt shingle is made with asphalt, but only one–the paper-backed one–is commonly called an “asphalt shingle”). I read an opinion that the warranties on shingles are largely a marketing gimmick. Discuss.


Word of mouth is important and so I called two other companies (who preferred not to be named), both of whom have good reputations. I’m sure there are other good companies but I was in a hurry and I limited my search.

What impressed me about all three companies was that they all gave the same unprompted advice which echoed our neighbour’s and they all immediately provided Certificates of Insurance and are up to date with WCB.

Spot the vents on the old roof!
Spot the vents on the old roof!

One concern they all shared was venting. If you don’t vent your roof properly, a whole bunch of problems ensue, one of which is your shingles get too hot and disintegrate way too soon. However, since we have sworn up and down that we will hire a professional spray foam company to spray 2-pound spray foam insulation directly to the underside of the sheeting¬† and have an envelope engineer sign off on it, we will not have any vents at all. (I’ll post more about that, don’t worry!)

Light comes through open vents in the attic.
Light comes through open vents in the attic.

Our neighbour pointed out that our existing venting didn’t work very well. There were vents at the top for air to escape, but no soffits at the bottom for air to enter. Another good reason to use spray foam in this house.

Of course, we don’t know how much that spray foam will cost yet. We’ve heard it’s expensive. Gulp. Oh well, we’re committed now because we have an unvented roof!

Speaking of energy efficiency, I asked one of the other companies about using a lighter colour shingle for better energy efficiency (darker colours get hotter) and they taught me that unless you get the special reflective shingles, colour doesn’t make much difference. Based on his information, I was able to choose a nice dark colour, “Heather Blend“, of Certainteed Landmark shingles, which goes well with the dark accents around the windows and dentil moulding, etc.

The snow did not arrive on the weekend. We fretted over drips inside the house and wondered if we should have just accepted the first quote. Then we sat down with our neighbour to discuss the three quotes for the whole roof. They were:

Maple Ridge Roofing $5084.00 plus GST
Another Roofing Co.: $7375.00 plus GST
Yet Another Roofing Co.: $8001.50 plus GST

That’s quite a difference, isn’t it? Our neighbour was surprised the last quote was so high, so we wrote them about it:

I was hoping you could explain your quotation amount. Our roof is roughly 2200 square feet. By your estimate that would mean you are charging $364 per 100 square feet of roof. This seems very high to me, particularly since the roof deck is already sheeted. I have a quote from two other Maple Ridge companies, both with comparable shingles (Certainteed, and IKO), both with a peel and stick on the low slope roof and one company also provides a drip edge flashing on the gable ends. I have heard good things about you from my neighbour and was hoping to have you do our roof, but at $2000 higher I am not able to justify the expense. Please have a look at your numbers and see if you are able to do anything. We are anxious to get this done asap.

They responded promptly:

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately we cannot come down any on our pricing. The cost of materials has increased due to inflation of the U.S. dollar.

Was that the whole story?¬† We don’t know, but here’s the thing : these are all good companies who are entitled to quote whatever they like. A quote is an internal decision of what they are prepared to do the work for. Sure, we want to save money, but we also want quality work. You shouldn’t write off a company just because their quote is the highest. Your house will be different anyway, so get a few quotes and go from there.

The real question was whether we would regret going with the lowest quote. After all, this is our forever home. But how can there be a $3000 difference? Is Maple Ridge Roofing cutting corners with techniques? Materials? Safety? These were questions Leanne and I could not answer for ourselves.

Thank goodness for knowledgeable neighbours.

In the kitchen of the little yellow house that Leanne’s grandfather bought (along with the whole block) in 1922 our neighbour made the decision easy. She knows shingles and she said Maple Ridge Roofing was offering to do the same work using–get this–the highest quality materials of all three. We could only speculate that this is a newer company who were looking to make a name for themselves. Well, they certainly have our recommendation!

Everyone loves it when I take photos while they are having lunch!
Everyone loves it when I take photos while they are having lunch!

They showed up as a team of three and made sure the entire roof was covered, at least by underlay, by the end of the day. Our neighbour inspected their work later in the day and said they were doing it right. That was great to hear because we would have had no idea! She was also impressed at how hard such a small crew worked to get the entire roof covered by the end of the first day.¬† The next day they finished up, leaving a space for the chimney when it is rebuilt. They even added a small piece of missing plywood sheeting which wasn’t on the quote.

They did a great job and we will be calling them back when the chimney has been rebuilt. With GST we paid them $5,338.20.

We had a brief chat about construction waste, too. I told Mike we would take care of all materials that can be reused or recycled. There was a lot of recycle-able plastic.

Unfortunately, tar paper and shingles must go to the landfill. A few weeks ago I took two pick-up loads (in a friend’s borrowed truck with another friend’s borrowed help) from the back of the house to the transfer station. It’s not fun. I was glad the disposal of the shingles from the front of the house was included in the roofing quote.

Pile o' shingles
Pile o’ shingles and tar paper

This is the point when you might expect me to recommend Maple Ridge Roofing unreservedly for any of your roofing needs, and I do. But before you hire them sight unseen, I recommend getting at least 2 other quotes and some advice from someone you trust. Apparently, prices and materials vary quite a bit!

And if you have any doubt at all about your new roof, retain that 10% contractor’s hold back and hire a certified roof inspector like this one to check their work before you pay them in full.

Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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