We're hiring a contractor to take off the existing roof, repair/replace any rotted sheathing and rafters, and install a new roof. We've also asked that they add a new plumbing vent stack for a new bathroom we'll add later, a bathroom exhaust vent, a whirlybird to vent the attic, a dryer vent, and supports in case we want to install a roof deck later.

This is a 4 floor row house with shallow pitch roof in mid-Atlantic US. There's a 6" to 3' pitched attic area with r30 batts on the ceiling joists. Also have HVAC compressor on roof and unit in attic.

What else should we think about along these lines? Green roof supports? Solar panel mounts? Additional insulation? What should we prepare for now, or at least consider?

  • 1
    Do you feel comfortable with this new title?
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Jul 17, 2011 at 21:42
  • Yikes. that is one busy roof. Got any room left for the actual roofing?! lol. Jul 18, 2011 at 9:28
  • Don't want it all. Just want to know what my options are.
    – jlpp
    Jul 18, 2011 at 16:44
  • 2
    In terms of prolonging the roof's life, some big factors you could do when rebuilding would be lots of attic ventilation (people suggested 2 maxi vents to me instead of a whirlybird) and a light shingle color instead of black.
    – gravitron
    Jul 20, 2011 at 21:04

3 Answers 3


The three things that I ask people to consider when they're replacing a roof is if they're in a wind or hail damage region, and if they're in a region with high solar gain (such as Texas) or an area prone to ice damming (such as New England or the upper midwest.)

If you're in an area that is prone to wind or hail damage (thunderstorms or hurricanes), you might want to look into a more resilient form of roofing material. Stone-coated steel shingles (which look just like standard asphalt shingles) are a great product that will resist most forms of damage that can be dished out. Your insurance may give you a discount on them because they have a longer lifetime.

If you're in a high solar gain area, look into some of the energy-star rated shingles. They again look just like stone coated asphalt shingles, but they'll help keep your attic cool in the summertime.

If you're in an area that gets a decent amount of snow, make sure that they install an ice & water barrier around any roof penetrations (like skylights or places where they replace a vent) and along the edge of the roof where you could develop ice damming problems. This material is a sticky membrane that self-sticks to the roof deck and basically keeps water from seeping through at all. Common brand name for this product are "Grace Ice & Water Shield" ... I also personally use it in roof valleys, gable crotches, and several other places where water tends to get blown up inside something and you really don't want it to soak through.

You definitely want to get your insulation up to the max, but that's something that you can do at any time using blown-in insulation. If you are replacing roof decking and have it open, you should make sure that you have plenty of soffit vents and that your soffit vents are baffled properly. (I like the Berger Accuvent, personally...)

You want to make sure that any damaged or rusted flashing is replaced, and that tar paper is replaced. Look into what kind of tar paper they're using (heavier the weight, the better...), because that's actually your roof. Make sure you know what kind of valleys you're getting. For standard asphalt shingles, I prefer woven valleys, but they're harder to do and therefore are more expensive.


1) Solar is something that goes on after the roof is installed, including the supports, and roofers should not even be doing the supports for it. Most solar installers screw it up anyways, but they'll at least get them in the correct position, whereas a roofer won't (especially for a system that's not even designed yet.)

2) Soffet vents aren't necessarily the roofer's job, but if they're going to be doing them, you'll want lots -- far in excess of what code requires. Make sure they don't get blocked up by insulation. They're installed for a reason, and being clogged up with insulation isn't one of them.

3) Passive roof vents, not electric or solar vents.

4) If you want to lower your A/C bill: radiant barrier in between the sheathing and the shingles, high-albedo shingles, etc.

5) Hurricane nails. (They have ridges on them that increase their pull-out strength.)

  • Actually, from my recent reading/studies... you don't want your radiant barrier behind the shingles. Radiant barrier behind your shingles will heat up the surface of your roof, which will shorten it's life. Even a 2-3 degree increase in roof surface temp will cause a 10% reduction in roof service life. Aug 5, 2011 at 0:07
  • There's no place that you can put it that isn't going to heat up the shingles a bit, but regardless, in Maryland, etc. area, which is where he lives, the heat isn't going to be that severe... not talking Arizona or Texas here.
    – Michael
    Aug 5, 2011 at 8:45
  • Yeah, I'm in Texas, which is why I'm familiar with the issue. You'd be surprised, actually -- it's the same level of effect as the "Low-E windows melting vinyl siding" debacle, which happens up in the great white north as well. That's why I recommend an energy-star roofing product -- some of which are stone coated asphalt shingles with an extra additive, some of which are metal shingles with a stone and glue coating -- as a radiant barrier, instead of a reflective barrier under the roof decking. Keep the energy on the outside of the envelope at all times... Aug 5, 2011 at 18:36

One thing to think of too is your bracing inside of your attic. There is nothing wrong with going above and beyond the code when it comes to bracing your roof. If you have noticed some sag spots in your roof you might want to think about this as well. Also, have the roofers use aluminum on your vallies. (if you have any) Many leaks happen in these areas because of poor application of tar paper before the shingles are put on.

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