When the Associated Press reported in May 2009 “Homeowners face rising roofing costs,” it was just another stab in the back to already cash-strapped Americans. On the heels of a harsher than normal winter, these homeowners were faced with a tough decision: ignore their leaky roofs and hope for the best or dig themselves deeper into debt and replace their faulty roofing before it escalates into a disaster.
The AP article pointed in particular to asphalt shingles as the culprit behind this precipitous rise in new roofing costs. Indeed, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index, “The price of asphalt shingles, which cover the vast majority of houses in the United States, rose 57.5 percent from March 2008 to this March.” That means that a roof repair that cost a homeowner $3,000 last spring would now set him or her back a staggering $4,725. Hello, new roof; bye bye, summer vacation.
What’s puzzling about this scenario is that it can no longer be blamed on the rising petroleum costs that bore the brunt of last year’s roofing increases. In fact, gas and oil prices are actually down significantly from 2008 levels and the lingering effect from last year’s increases are minimal. This year, instead, it’s a classic economics textbook case of supply and demand: “Manufacturers said shingle prices rose in March because of an asphalt shortage. Asphalt is most in demand for roadwork, and government attempts to revive the struggling economy include an infusion of money for roads.”
Other factors are also increasing the demand for asphalt shingles. “In addition, hurricanes, hail and other roof-damaging weather can drive demand for shingles up rapidly.” Where does this leave homeowners who need a new roof now? “The bottom line is that homeowners shouldn’t expect bargains on new roofs, even as home values and the overall demand for housing renovations have plummeted,” the article concludes.
It’s not all doom and gloom for these needy homeowners, however. If they opt for “certain energy-saving reflective asphalt shingles,the federal government is offering a tax credit of up to $1,500 through 2010.” For those individuals who can’t put off a roof replacement until the shortage corrects itself, there are other ways of protecting their costs. Those individuals should think of their new roof as an investment.
Topping that list is finding a roofing contractor with a longstanding reputation for excellence. Word travels quickly in the small circles of the building world, so it shouldn’t be hard to narrow down the roofing company of choice in your area. Also, look for quantity in addition to quality. A roofing company that completes more than 1,000 new roofs per year obviously has the expertise and track record to make your investment a worthwhile one.
And don’t overlook credentials. Your chosen roofing contractor should be fully licensed by your state and local governments (if required) and insured. Finally, don’t fall for a fly-by-night operation for the sake of saving a few bucks. By applying a solid work ethic, service and family values to the individual homeowner, an established roof company stands above all other roofing contractors in this here-today, gone-tomorrow industry.