When HOA boards are evaluating a roof replacement project in their community, the process can be confusing and overwhelming. On top of this, the community is relying on the board volunteers to make the best long-term decision for the community. They must take price, quality, scope of work, and many other variables into their decision.
The 2022 HOA Roof Replacement Guide exists to help facilitate the process. The guide is a great tool to help HOAs decide between repair versus replacement, choosing contractors, extended warranties, and more. We hope you find some of these tips helpful to help with your project!
When should a HOA community replace its roofing system?
The four most common times to replace a roof in the community are:
- Budgeted replacement. Most communities have reserve studies that project a year to replace the roof. If this year matches the year of replacement in the reserve study, it is a good time to replace the roof!
- Roof repairs are becoming common. If the roof is starting to leak consistently and requires constant repairs, a roof replacement should be considered. On the other hand, if the budget is not available, roof maintenance can be considered to extend the life of the roofing system until funds become available.
- Age of the shingles. 3-tab shingles can last 20-25 years, and architectural shingles last approximately 30 years. The closer the shingles are to their stated lifespan, the more likely replacement will be necessary.
- Storm damage. If there is a weather event that causes storm damage to the roof, replacement should be considered before problems start presenting themselves in the form of leaks or missing shingles. Insurance companies often only cover storm damage within 365 of the original date of hail or wind damage, so filing within this timeframe is essential.
What type of shingle should the HOA install?
The most popular roofs installed in Atlanta today are 3-tab and Architectural shingle roofs. These types of roofs comprise an estimated 95% of the total shingles installed in Atlanta. This guide focuses on 3-tab and architectural shingles. The remaining roof considerations are specialty shingles, and less common.
3-tab shingles are the least expensive material to use during a roof replacement.
- 20-25 years lifespan
- 60 mph wind rating
- Flat shingle (no "dimension")
These are the most common shingles installed in Atlanta (70%+ of shingles installed).
- 30 year lifespan (20% longer than 3-tab)
- 130 mph wind rating (more than double 3-tab)
- Dimensional shingle (two shingles laid on top of each other)
- 15% more expensive than 3-tab
- Look more updated and hide underlying decking inconsistencies better
What should we do to prevent future roof leaks?
Deciding to replace the roof is the first decision for the board. The follow up decision is "how do we make sure it lasts?" Determining what components of the roofing system to replace (HVAC boots, dryer vents, etc.) which materials to use, and a roofing contractor's qualifications will determine the quality of the roofing system.
Scope of Work
- Replace ALL flashing. The flashing is the most important component to replace during any roof replacement. Quality flashing replacement happens when a contractor uses a metal brake for custom flashings. This should be standard for commercial-grade roof replacements, and specifically applies around chimneys, walls, apron flashing, and transitions
- Replace ALL components. This includes ventilation, pipe boots, metal HVAC boots, skylights, etc. If these items are not replaced during the roof replacement, they will likely breakdown and leak on your future roofing system (and will not be covered under warranty!)
- Evaluate other items. Chimney caps, metal dormers, bad siding, windows, etc. should be evaluated to see if there are other items that might cause leaks.
- Reputable shingle manufacturers. CertainTeed, Owens Corning, and GAF all produce quality shingles.
- Underlayment. Synthetic underlayment is superior to 15# felt.
- Hip and ridge shingles. 3-tabs can be used for hip and ridge shingles on 3-tab roofs. Architectural shingles should use hip and ridge specific shingles that are more expensive, but last longer, have increased wind warranties, and will not crack and cause leaks.
- Metal over plastic. Plastic will crack over time and leak. This is relevant for box vents, dryer vents, and other roof components.
Project Oversight and Installation Labor
- Trained crews. Using companies with specific training programs, quality repair departments, and use methodologies to control installation techniques.
- Proper oversight. On-site project managers, drones, and pictures are integral to monitoring the installation. This ensures all installation techniques are completed per the contract, as well as to the highest standards possible.
- Metal brakes. Cut-in flashing, chimneys, transitions, and apron flashing all require specialty fit flashing. Most Atlanta roofing companies do not bend custom metal flashing, and will instead use caulk which will fail over time.
What shingle manufacturer should the community use?
CertainTeed, Owens Corning, and GAF are the top three shingle manufacturers in Atlanta and comprise approximately 75% of the market for shingles. The remaining 25% are covered by specialty shingles and smaller manufacturers. The top three are all good choices but have different strengths and weaknesses.
IMPORTANT NOTE: No HOA community will go wrong by installing any of the three shingle manufacturers below. However, a community will have problems for decades if the wrong contractor is chosen!
- Easy to install with minor risk for errors (large nail line)
- Thickest and heaviest shingle (i.e. most bang for your buck)
- Highest copper content to prevent algae staining
- Technically the smallest shingle of the three (<2%), but is insignificant to appearance, installation, etc.
- Easy to install with minor risk for errors (SureNail strip on Duration product line)
- Lighter weight than CertainTeed
- SureNail strip can make future repairs difficult
- Largest shingle manufacturer in America
- Shingles have a small nail line making them prone to installation errors, falling off, and sliding down roofs. Installing a shingle incorrectly is the worst-case scenario for any manufacturer.
- There is a low copper content in these shingles which makes algae staining appear and hurts the overall appearance
- Not the heaviest nor thickest of the three manufacturers. This can make shingles brittle over time creating a need to replace the roofing system sooner due to unrepairability.
What warranty should we consider?
There are two types of warranties that come with a roof replacement; a material warranty through the shingle manufacturer, and a labor warranty through the roofing contractor. Sometimes, the labor warranty is "backed" by the manufacturer, but this would only be relevant if the roofing contractor were to go out of business.
The manufacturers usually require most or all parts of the roofing system (shingles, underlayment, hip and ridge shingles, ridge vent, etc.) to be produced by the shingle manufacturer to qualify for the material warranties. The standard roof material warranty items are:
- Material. The standard warranty typically covers shingles for 10 years against manufacturer defects. Extended coverage typically costs a registration fee with the manufacturer. We recommend paying extra for a lifetime material warranty to cover against all future defects without proration.
- Wind. These warranties last 10+ years, and are covered for 60 mph (3-tab) and 110mph winds (architectural). If the roofing contractor uses 6 nails per shingle, the architectural wind warranty can be increased to 130mph.
- Algae. These warranties last 10-15 years against algae, and are usually prorated. Using shingles with higher amounts of copper will prevent algae discoloration
What is not covered under warranty?
- HVAC metal flashing is not covered under the warranty as these items are not considered part of the roofing system. This is why we recommend replacement at the time the roof is replaced, so they are covered under the roofer's warranty as well.
- Chimney leaks not caused by the roof (caused by chimney siding, corner boards, or chimney caps)
- Interior damage. This is covered under some roofing contractor's warranties, and not under others. Be sure to ask during the evaluation
What voids the warranty?
Voids to the manufacturer warranty:
- An improper amount of ventilation installed (too much, or too little) can void the entire manufacturer warranty.
- Improper installation of the shingles can void all or parts of the warranty.
- Not using approved materials. It is best to use all materials from the same manufacturer to avoid any future material warranty concerns
Voids to the workmanship warranty:
- Not replacing flashing voids a lot of workmanship warranties with contractors and is not allowed under any manufacturer-backed warranty
- Other contractors working on or causing damage to the roofing system. This would include HVAC contractors adjusting pipes, or painters puncturing shingles during painting.
Note: If a roofer is taking a long time to respond to warranty calls, this can put communities in a bind as they are technically not allowed to call anyone else. Ask if roofing contractors have a repair department, as this will significantly improve the response time!
How much does a HOA roof replacement cost?
Obviously, there are a lot of variables when it comes to replacing a roof in an HOA community. Some of the main variables are below:
- Size of community. This equates to more labor and materials needed.
- Scope of work. Quality roof installations include replacing all flashing, pipe boots, ventilation, etc. This costs more in materials and labor.
- Quality of materials. Material costs are largely driven by the type of shingle chosen (3-tab or architectural), whether all recommended manufacturer products are used (such as hip and ridge shingles), or generic products (such as underlayment, starter shingles, etc.) are used instead. For reference, the three manufacturers are very close in cost (CertainTeed, Owens Corning, and GAF), so this is not a large change unless higher grades are chosen, such as CertainTeed Landmark Pro versus just CertainTeed Landmark.
- Difficulty. If the roof is steep and high, it will increase the labor costs. If the shingles are designer shingles, it will take more time to install, and cost more in labor.
- Timing. If the entire complex is done at the same time, there can be volume discounts applied through the manufacturer's prices.
- Additional items. Boom lifts for materials, road closures, and other peripheral items will drive costs depending on the community.
The prices listed below are ballpark and include a quality roof installation (replace all flashing, rotten decking, built to code, etc.).
Townhome Community - $3,500 - $6,500 per unit
- Two-story charges apply for most townhome communities (+$15-$20 per square)
- Steep charges can apply (+$10-25 per square)
- The amount of flashing to replace can vary widely based on sidewalls and dormer presence. Step flashing is $5-7 per foot to replace. If it has counterflashing, the cost can double.
- Lifts are needed on larger projects which are $5,000-$10,000 per month depending on the amount of time the project takes.
- Project manager oversight for traffic and homeowner experience. Project managers are approximately $250 per day.
- Architectural shingles are often used in higher-end communities, which is 15-20% more than 3-tab shingles.
Single Family HOA Community - $7,500 - $9,500 per home
- Two story and steep charges can apply
- Can be significant flashing to replace
- Lifts and other specialty equipment can be needed to properly navigate the project
Office Complex with Designer Shingle - $36-42k per building
- Designer shingles cost significantly more for material and installation labor
- Two-story charges normally apply
- Normally a lot of commercial exhaust to replace for HVAC systems in order to enable long-term performance. HVAC boots can be approximately $100 per boot to replace.
How do we ensure a great experience for the community?
When choosing a contractor, HOA communities must consider the impact the roofing project will have on the entire community. This will include affecting daily traffic, trash cans being picked up on trash day, and other items that might require the roofing company to enter individual residences. Here are a couple of pointers that can improve the overall project experience for the community. It is important to ask the roofing contractor how they will handle these situations prior to hiring.
- Constant cleaning to keep roadways and driveways clear
- Responsive to individual homeowner concerns during the project
- Quality control for the overall project for preventing future community leaks, and interior damage
- Provide daily updates to the HOA board
- Constant community communication through the property management company
- Drone pictures
- Schedule changes due to weather
- Tenant concerns
Speed & Quality
- Boom lifts with custom boxes on the end can make tear-off go faster, keep the job site cleaner, and prevent damage to bushes and buildings during tear-off
- Boom lifts can move shingles from a staging area on the property, to where they are needed. This will keep the community cleaner versus having several pallets around the property
- With a boom lift, the shingles can be lifted to the roof, and make the project go faster
How can we pay for the HOA roof replacement?
HOA communities have several options when deciding how to pay for a roof replacement project.
- Cash. This option is used when the community has available funds.
- Replace in stages. There are cost savings associated with doing a community all at once, but if it is not financially possible, doing a building or section at a time is a great option.
- Filing an insurance claim. If there is storm damage present on the roofing system, an insurance claim can help pay for all or part of the roof replacement.
- Financing. Taking out a loan to pay for the project can offset some of the financing costs by driving cost savings at the time of replacement.
How do we choose a HOA roof replacement contractor?
Choosing the best roofing contractor is the most important part of an HOA roof replacement project. This selection will determine customer service and experience, overall installation quality, workmanship warranty servicing (if needed), manufacturer warranty denials, etc. Choosing the wrong contractor can create a situation where roof leaks persist in the community for decades! Although it can be difficult to differentiate roofing companies online, a couple of considerations are below:
Does the roofing contractor know the current roofing code?
Ask the contractor what the current roofing code is in Georgia (International Residential Code, 2018 Edition). If they do not know, how can they ensure the roof is being installed to code? This is best done during the initial meeting and without any preparation.
Ask how many repairs the company performs a week.
If the company does not have a repair department, how can they see where roofs fail and improve their installation techniques? Also, how can they service a warranty if a roof they install does leak? Sending a crew out to caulk will only cause headaches for all parties involved for a long time until the roof is out of warranty. Unfortunately, this is often a common practice.
Ask for references and read reviews
References can be HOA board members from other recently completed projects, property management companies, or other reputable people within the roofing business. Manufacturer and supplier representatives are not normally unbiased references. Most companies only ask their best customers for reviews, but reading the customers with the bad experiences can shed light on the downside risks of using the contractor. In conclusion, try to do real-life research that can show the upside and downside of using a roofing contractor!
Ask for a COI (Certificate of Insurance)
Residential roofing companies often only have General Liability and Worker’s Compensation coverage. Commercial roofing projects are much larger, with more variables, and should include at least a $2m umbrella coverage policy. Additionally, the certificate of insurance should contain an automobile coverage policy to cover your residents' vehicles. These items should be easily viewable on the insurance declarations page. If any of these components are missing, the roofing contractor is likely a residential roofing company not fit for commercial-size projects.
Common mistakes when evaluating HOA roofing contractors.
- Assuming a manufacturer certification equals quality. The biggest determining factor for entering a "preferred program" is the volume of shingles a company sells. It is better to be certified than not, but this is not a key factor in determining whether a roofing project will go smoothly or be free of leaks.
- Trying to compare bids apples to apples. Most HOA's will get several bids for their roof replacement projects. The scopes will be very similar between roofing contractors, so trying to reconcile all the language between them is not overly useful. It is better to ask questions such as "Who will be overseeing my project? What is their experience? Will we receive daily reports? Do you paint the interior in case of a warranty? What is your rain strategy during a project? How do you determine what decking to replace?" Oftentimes, the most important differences between the contractors are not found on the contract.
- Choosing based on price. Material and labor costs are often very similar for roofing contractors considering HOA roof replacement projects. Profitability can often be similar as well. If an estimate is cheaper, it's likely because a contractor is using an inferior scope, using inferior products, or cutting corners. The cheapest roofs are often the most expensive in the long run.
What maintenance should we consider after the roof is installed?
All roofing systems require maintenance. Maintenance can be due to other contractors on the roof (HVAC, gutter cleaners, painters, etc), shifting decking in hot and cool temperatures, the general aging of the system, and items that need to be resealed. A couple of long-term roof maintenance items to consider are:
- Resealing HVAC vents. The HVAC exhaust pipes are metal, and are comprised of four components; the pipe itself, base flashing, cap, and rain collar. These are more complex as these exhausts deal with heated air leaving the building so no part can be plastic. They have to be resealed on occasion so water does not enter.
- Caulking exposed nail heads. The nails that are exposed must be covered every couple of years so they do not rust, fall off, and create an entry hole for water.
- Pipe boot replacement. Pipe boots have a life expectancy of 12-15 years. These are the most common leaks on a property. Replacement should be considered if several begin to fail.
- Nail pops and raised flashing. Nail pops can occur due to underlying deck movement. Additionally, pipe flashing can be raised due to movement in the structure pushing out nails. These items can be corrected every couple of years.
- Gutter and roof cleaning. Gutters often become filled and can back up into the roofing system. This can be problematic, as can debris laying on the roof and causing water to move in ways not natural to a roofing system. Cleaning on a regular schedule is often important to keep the roofing system leak-free.
Roof replacement projects are among the most expensive, intrusive, and substantial projects an HOA can take on. Hopefully, this guide helped determine the next-level questions and thoughts a board should have prior to signing up for a very expensive, long-lasting project. If you have any questions that were not answered, please send an email or give us a call and we can provide a well-experienced, professional opinion!