As you’re researching contractors for work on your home or business, it is important to remember the lowest bid may not be the best bid. Here are 10 questions to ask a potential contractor before you sign an agreement:
- Are you licensed and insured with liability insurance? (A qualified contractor should carry liability and workers’ compensation insurance to protect you and them in the event of a roofing accident.)
- Are all the workers who will be working on my roof covered under your liability insurance?
- What type of shingles and which ice and water shield manufacturer do you recommend and why?
- Are you licensed by the roofing manufacturer you are recommending? Is your license active and current? (This is important for warranties and to ensure that the materials will be properly installed.)
- What is your warranty on your work? (This is in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty.)
- Would you be pulling the necessary permit?
- Will you be onsite with your crew to ensure the work is being done properly?
- Can you provide me with at least three references?
- How will you prepare my house and the surrounding plantings to protect them?
- What is your clean-up and disposal procedure?
To understand some of the answers behind these questions and why they are important, read “Prepare Your Roof for Winter.”
In the record breaking winter of early 2015, many of us got an unwelcome introduction to the havoc ice dams can wreak. In case the next winter is just as harsh, there are preventative measures you can take to prepare for winter. Damage from ice dams can be extensive and the repairs disruptive.
We’ve outlined some prevention tips relating to:
- Ventilation and insulation of your attic.
- Ice and snow shield installation.
- What questions to ask a contractor when installing a new roof.
- What steps to take once it starts snowing.
But first, what is an ice dam?
A line of ice that forms along the roof edge, an ice dam prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. As your attic warms up from the heat in your house the snow on your roof melts. If the temperature outside is warm enough, this water will harmlessly run down to your gutters (this is a good reminder to always make sure your gutters are clear). But when the temperature stays below freezing, this water backs up behind the ice dam and can seep under shingles and into your house.
What causes it?
Three factors create the “perfect storm” for ice dams:
- Heavy, consistent snowfall and below-freezing temperatures
- Inadequate ventilation and insulation
- Poorly installed roofing materials
The first you can’t control. But the last two you can, and should consider addressing before the flakes fly.
Prevention now — ventilation and insulation
To properly ventilate the attic and roof to permit warm air to escape, consider installing any one, or an appropriate combination, of the following:
- A ridge vent
- Soffit vents (or make sure the ones you have are not blocked)
- Roof vents or channels in the attic, from eaves to ridge
Proper insulation prevents heat loss into the attic that causes snow to melt. Consider:
- Insulating your attic floor and the underside of your roof, making sure not to cover soffit vents.
- Eliminating warm air leaking into your attic from around light fixtures, stair trap doors, pipe openings, and anything that cuts through the attic floor.
Prevention now – roofing / ice and water shield
When you are having a new roof installed consider having your roofer install an ice and water shield at least six feet up from the roof edge and two to three feet up the side walls of dormers. Work with your roofer to choose a good-quality material, one that’s substantial in thickness and self-seals around the roofing nails.
Confirm with your contractor that the shield will be installed over the fascia board and into your gutters, with the roof’s drip edge installed on top of the shield. This helps prevent water from finding a path behind your gutters and into your walls. Now is also a good time to have old flashing around any dormers or roof valleys replaced because older flashing becomes brittle and can let water enter.
But before you start any work, it’s important to use a qualified, licensed, professional contractor. There are several questions you should ask to help you choose the right roofer for you.
Once the snow starts – the roof rake
All property owners still need to keep on top of the snow when it starts to fall. A roof rake is an essential tool in this battle. Once you have one to two feet of snow on your roof, rake it off as high as you can safely reach and watch out for any wires. If you need to have your roof professionally cleared, make sure to use a qualified roofer as they understand the right way to clear your roof, mitigating any damage and subsequent repairs or leaks.
We hope these tips help you prepare as we head into winter.
(Photo Credit: Fotolia)
In 2014, tens of millions of personal records were compromised by various data breaches. According to The Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 783 recorded data breaches last year, hitting a record high. But while these breaches were headlined by some of the more high-profile cases of JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, Sony, and Staples, the vast majority of them occur within the small business community, and can cost a small business proportionally much more than the bigger guys. Last year, the average cost of a small retail business data breach exceeded $36,000, and perhaps more worrying, these businesses saw almost a third of their customers leave for good. People often lose trust and confidence in a business that has been hacked or has otherwise mishandled their personal information. This kind of event can also result in lost relationships with key partners and vendors, damage to your brand, and of course, a lot of lost time and stress.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and in an effort to help protect you and your small business, here are some steps you can take:
- Install updated POS systems with (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) EMV “chip and pin” credit cards which prevent hackers from stealing data contained in standard magnetic strips.
- Make sure all data being transferred online is encrypted. This includes any emails or files you may send to customers, vendors, or partners.
- Avoid using Wi-Fi networks to prevent third-party interception of transferred data. If you must use a Wi-Fi, make sure it’s secured with a firewall and a WPA2 encryption.
- Frequently back up your data to an offsite location to avoid a loss in the event of a fire or burglary.
- Use common sense with password management as well as email accounts. Don’t use obvious or simple passwords, and don’t open any links that may appear malicious.
- Shred all outdated or obsolete documents that may still contain sensitive or personal data.
- Make sure you’re up to date on anti-virus software, and stay current by understanding what the latest security threats and protocols are.
- Educate your employees to safeguard their own information, accounts, passwords, and shared data.
To learn more about how The N&D® Group can help protect your small business from a devastating data breach, click here.
“Identity Theft Resource Center Breach Report Hits Record High in 2014.” ID Theft Center. IDT911, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.
“Small Businesses: The Cost of a Data Breach Is Higher Than You Think.” First Data. N.p., 2014. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
“Stop.Think.Connect. Small Business Resources.” US Department of Homeland Security. US Department of Homeland Security, 2 July 2015. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.