Many people do not think about their roof until it's too late. Your roof is more taken for granted than your floor, after all. Until a fateful drop lands on your head or you notice part of your roof coming off, when do you really pay attention to it? Well, if you're due for a roof replacement and trying to sell or rent your home, you may want to look into the problem now.
There are a myriad of roof materials available, most of which will make a fine roof that will probably exceed your stay in your home. Any decent home improvement contractor should be able to install a variety of roofing materials. However, if you want a specialty product like slate, you may have to get a specialized roofing contractor. What kind of roofing material you pick seriously depends on your current pocketbook, your estimated length of time in the house and the house itself. If you have a historic home, you may want or need to replace a roof with the same materials as the original. If, on the other hand, you have a newer home you have many more options. In addition, if you have a very shallow roof pitch, your options for roofing become quite limited. Shallow pitch means that your roof does not rise very much from the edge to the top. If your roof only goes up three inches for every foot it runs horizontally (rise over run) then you must either use asphalt roll roofing or some of the new polymer membranes now coming out on the market.
What kind of supports your roof has also makes a difference. Your rafters have to be able to support whatever material you choose. If your home was not intended to have a slate roof, the rafters underneath the roof may not be able to support the weight. You would then have to have all of the rafters rebuilt to weight specifications, driving the cost of the installation sky-high. Metal shingles or roofing is the lightest material used, with wood, asphalt, concrete, clay and slate all much heavier. Be sure your structure can support your choice before layout. A good home improvement contractor can inspect your rafters and structure to tell you what materials are available to you.
Of course, finding a good roofing contractor is key to the whole process. Any contractor should be insured, bonded, offer guarantees of his or her work, and be professional at all times. You should be able to visit the home improvement company's office and get references from previous clients you can go see in person. With the right contractor and the right material, your new roof will give you years of good service, wonderful appearance and an easier sale or rental experience.