Re-roofing our 1908 American Foursquare-style house reminded me of a Frank Capra movie. For once, things actually went as planned.
35 years ago, I installed a new roof on a different house, a modest ranch with a low-pitched roof. But at that point, I had the support of two helpers, and the work was hard enough. Now I’m a lot older, and the Foursqure roof is steeper and higher. So doing the job myself was out of the question.
Related: Should You Replace or Repair Your Roof?
In other words, I needed to find a qualified roofing contractor. Impressed by the performance of some roofers I’d observed in my neighborhood—these guys were like a choreographed dance troupe—I searched around on the internet and before long, found the right company.
I called and talked to the owner. He said he’d get back to me with a proposal after sending his foreman over for a look. After making several additional calls, I had two other companies to consider.
Now the challenge was to choose the best one of the bunch. How did I do it? By following three golden rules of hiring contractors:
1. Look for longevity and professionalism
Surfing a contractor’s website, I like to see signs of professionalism, such as Better Business Bureau accreditation, trade magazine rankings, or industry awards. Likewise, elite or master certification from a leading manufacturer demonstrates a commitment to training. If you really want to avoid all surprises, then pay close attention to those companies whose work has been officially recognized by the institutions that matter in the construction field.
2. Get references (and check them)
Go with a well-established company that can support its claims to quality with checkable references. Online testimonials are nice, but they’re not as trustworthy as speaking directly to another human being. Positive reports on a site like Angie’s List should not be ignored; simply remember that not every contractor worth considering has been reviewed online. When possible, go out and visit roofing jobs completed by the companies on your short list.
GAF's Timberline HD Asphalt Shingles in Shakewood
3. All quotes are not created equal
A contractor must see the roof in question before he can submit a bid. Expect each candidate in the running for your business to offer insights on the work involved, including your best options and the estimated time required. Should you meet a contractor who is not willing to explain his estimate in depth, move on to the next candidate.
Here’s how the meeting went with the company that my wife and I ultimately chose to hire: The contractor showed us several samples of the shingle product we were interested in. Then he told us about his company, started by his father-in-law, and about the eight-man crew, which had been together for eight years. And he went through his typed proposal with us, line by line. The proposal included everything from ice-and-water shield to site cleanup and warranty details. I knew he was the right contractor for the job.
A week later, a crew and dumpster showed up at the house. In a few hours, the old roofing had been removed, and new plywood sheathing had gone up. By the end of that first day, in fact, half the installation was complete. Within another 24 hours, the job was completely done. And when I inspected under shrubs in the garden, I did not find a single nail.
As I looked up at the new roof, sunlight danced on the shingles, birds chirped, and the sky filled with music. Frank Capra came to mind, and I thought: It’s a Wonderful Roof!
For more on managing construction, consider:
Bob Vila Radio: Hire a Pro
What Your Contractor Won’t Tell You
Quick Tip: Hiring a General Contractor
- Major Systems >
- Let Your Attic Help Improve Home Comfort Year Round
Let Your Attic Help Improve Home Comfort Year Round
Looking to cut energy costs and improve home comfort? Focus on your heating and cooling systems. While it is imperative to choose an Energy Star-certified unit properly sized for your home, a variety of factors influence the effectiveness of your system, according to the experts at Lennox. And some of those factors, it turns out, have very little to do with areas of the home that you actually live in.
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Enter to Win Our “April Showers” Give-Away
Everyone knows that a new shower head can be a stylish, water-conserving improvement for any bathroom—but why stop there, when you could win the Delta shower head of your choice plus $2,000 to jump-start your dream bath remodel in Bob Vila’s “April Showers” Give-Away?
ENTER BOB VILA’S “APRIL SHOWERS” GIVE-AWAY
Today and every day in April (until 11:59 a.m. EST, May 1, 2013), you can enter to win one of four Delta shower heads (options shown below) in addition to a $2,000 Visa gift card!
Delta's (clockwise from top left) In2ition® Two-in-One Shower, Dryden, Contemporary, and Transitional shower heads, each with H2Okinetic Technology
Each shower head features Delta’s H2Okinetic™ technology—an innovative internal system that controls the speed, movement, and water droplet size to create a custom shower experience like no other. The shower actually sculpts water into a unique wave pattern that provides more coverage, more intensity, and more warmth (since the larger water droplets retain their temperature longer). Best of all, you get the feeling of more water without actually using more water.
So, go ahead: CHOOSE YOUR SHOWER HEAD and seize your opportunity to win $2,000. Remember, you can enter Bob Vila’s “April Showers” Give-Away daily to increase your odds of winning.
To learn more about Delta H20Kinetics, click here.
The “Bob Vila’s Spring Showers from Delta Faucet” sweepstakes is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Monday, April 1, 2013 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, May 1, 2013. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. In the event that Winner fails to provide Sponsor with a choice of shower head, Winner’s prize package will include the Default Selection. See Official Rules.
10 Show-Stoppers from Las Vegas
Caesars Palace. Photo: LABworks360
What could the grandeur of a Roman fountain and an end-of-days bomb shelter possibly have in common? Must be time for the annual NAHB International Builders’ Show, held this year (January 22-24) in Las Vegas, NV. The event, which draws builders, contractors, manufacturers and industry professionals from around the country and the world, is renowned for showcasing the latest in new building products, materials, technology, trends and innovations.
While we were hard-pressed to cover the entire 360,000 square feet of exhibition space, we were able to discover some true show-stoppers. Here are ten of them to whet your appetite.
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ENTER TO WIN This Amana Washer & Dryer!
If you have to do laundry in 2013, wouldn’t you prefer doing it in style and with energy savings in mind? We thought so. That’s why we reached out to our friends at Amana® to sponsor Bob Vila’s “2013 Love Your Laundry” Give-Away.
Starting today and every day through the month of January (until 11:59 p.m. EST, Thursday January 31, 2013), you can ENTER TO WIN a new Amana 3.6 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Washer with Stainless Steel Wash Basket, valued at $649 (MSRP), and 7.0 cu. ft. Traditional Dryer with Interior Drum Light, valued at $479 (MSRP).
Amana® 3.6 cu. ft. High Efficiency Washer and 7.0 cu. ft. Traditional Dryer.
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Books for the Love of Home
Experts on all things home aren’t always confined to hammer and nail. Many have picked up another set of tools altogether—pencil and paper. Looking to spread knowledge beyond their own toolboxes, today’s voices of interior design, craft inspiration, and historic homes have made 2012 a banner year for the home improvement book. Just in time for the holidays, we’ve gathered a fresh new trio of favorite stocking stuffers:
The Things That Matter
Photo: Spiegel & Grau
In designer Nate Berkus‘s recently released The Things That Matter, we are reminded of how one’s personal experiences shape who they are and how they live. Berkus fills the book with intimate stories of his childhood, introduces us to people who influenced him and encouraged him along the way, and opens up about the remarkable experiences that have changed him forever. Readers get a personal glimpse into Berkus’s home as well as 12 others, from a sleek metal-and-glass high-rise in Chicago to a rustic cottage in the Hudson Valley. Each property proves a revealing portrait of its owners lives and of the inspiring choices that shaped them. More…
Young House Love
Photo: A Beautiful Mess
In 2006, armed with a can-do attitude and zero formal training, husband-and-wife duo John and Sherry Petersik embarked on an ambitious home improvement journey. Six years, two whole-house renovations, and one enormously successful blog later, the Petersiks decided to move their crafty ideas from the computer screen to the glossy pages of a beautiful book. Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love is a fun and upbeat source of inspiration. With instructive images accompanying each easy-to-read project guide, renters and homeowners alike will find themselves seeing new possibilities for every forgotten corner at home. More…
Houses of the Presidents
Photo: Little, Brown
Anyone who has gone through a major remodel knows that estimates are likely to run a tad long. If it brings any comfort, even Presidents have had to endure the same misery: It took Thomas Jefferson 54 years to complete his beloved Monticello! In Houses of the Presidents: Childhood Homes, Family Dwellings, Private Escapes, and Grand Estates, you’ll find a wealth of additional information on the homes (birthplaces, residences, retreats) of the American Presidents—from George Washington’s Mount Vernon to Punachou Circle Apartments in Honolulu, where Barack Obama lived with his grandmother. Author Hugh Howard, co-author of several Bob Vila books, weaves an intimate portrait that combines architectural history with intimate family stories and political lore to shed light on the men who have occupied the nation’s highest office. Color photographs by Roger Straus III bring these homes and furnishings vividly to life. More…
For more holiday gift ideas, consider:
Bob Vila’s 2012 Gift Guide: For the DIY Mom
Bob Vila’s 2012 Gift Guide: For the DIY Dad
Bob Vila’s 2012 Gift Guide: For the Gardener
- Green >
- Did You Know? Bulb Matters
Did You Know? Bulb Matters
We hear a lot about lighting and energy efficiency, but can the right light bulb really be effective in reducing monthly bills and utility consumption? Yes, it can!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star site, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a bulb bearing the Energy Star label, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save roughly $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.
For more on lighting, consider:
Light Bulbs: The Shape of Things to Come
Smart New Choices for Outdoor Lighting
How To: Save Money and Electricity
Calling All Nominations for the 2nd Annual Family Handyman-IKEA “Rescue Remodel”
In the spirit of the holiday season, do something to give back to your community this December. The Family Handyman, one of the most respected media brands in home improvement, has teamed up with IKEA® for its 2nd Annual Rescue Remodel Contest. From now until December 15, 2012, communities can nominate their local organizations—firehouses, boys and girls clubs, soup kitchens, food pantries, etc.—to win an IKEA kitchen makeover valued at $25,000.
Entries must explain in 500 words or less how the renovation will benefit the local organization and the community, along with what makes the group truly deserving of the makeover. Nominees must be active community organizations and part of a not-for-profit group to qualify. The winning organization will receive a fully customized kitchen—from new cabinets and appliances, to cookware and food storage—from IKEA.
A panel from The Family Handyman will select the five top community organizations from those nominated. The vote will then be open to the public from February 1 until March 30, 2013. A winner will be selected on April 12, 2013, and the completed kitchen unveiled in the magazine’s September’s issue and on its website, as well as on www.RescueRemodel.com
To find out more, including official rules and how to submit a nomination, visit Rescue Remodel—but you only have until December 15th to nominate your community organization.
- Other Rooms >
- 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Dining Room
8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Dining Room
With so many dishes and serving utensils, not to mention the number of guests, Thanksgiving puts your dining room to the true test. Here are eight ways to get more out of the space, maximizing your enjoyment of the meal and the day’s family joys.
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- Green >
- Hurricane Sandy: Disaster Preparedness
Hurricane Sandy: Disaster Preparedness
Weather.com Hurricane Sandy Threat Index
If you are among the estimated 50 million people in the path of Hurricane Sandy, you are hopefully heeding the warning of local authorities and taking disaster preparedness seriously. That may include evacuation if you live in a flood-prone area or of course anywhere where a mandatory evacuation notice has been issued.
The rare hybrid storm, currently off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, is expected to make landfall along the central New Jersey coast sometime this evening, bringing with it extended periods of heavy rain, tropical storm-force winds, and a potentially historic tidal surge along the East Coast (including Long Island Sound and New York Harbor), according to the National Weather Service.
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