Replacing your roof is a big expense that, fortunately, you only have to manage every 20 to 30 years. If you’re due for a new roof, you probably have a lot of questions about the process and what to look for when hiring a contractor. These 10 tips can get you started.

1. Price isn’t everything

Everyone wants to save money, and while price should be a consideration, the most important part of the decision should be value and return on investment. You’re looking for a fair price that covers the cost of quality products and installation. As you get estimates, ask if the price covers all elements of your roof replacement, including ventilation, protective coverings, fasteners, permits and inspections, and flashing, as well as removal and disposal of the old roofing material and delivery of new materials. And does the price cover all labor, project management and coordination?

Also find out what happens if there are unforeseen costs such as repairs to or replacement of underlying wood.

Peace of mind, quality material and complete project specifications are as important as price and will provide you with a roof that lasts a lifetime.

2. Beware the “roof over”

On the topic of price, you might be tempted to save money by placing the new shingles directly over the old ones, which is called a “roof over” or re-roofing. While a roof over cuts labor and disposal costs, the potential problems outweigh the benefits. Roof overs can shorten the lifetime of new shingles because heat and moisture build up. And problems with the underlying decking can go undetected. Finally, a roof over can void the warranty on the shingles.

3. Know the roof size lingo

Roofing contractors measure your roof and provide you an estimate based on the number of “squares” of roofing material required. A square is the amount of material needed to cover 100 square feet, so a roof with 20 squares has 2,000 square feet of surface area to be covered.

4. Ask about ventilation

One element that contributes to the long life of your roof is proper ventilation. Ensuring your roof system has the needed ventilation can modulate the attic temperatures during the summer and reduce moisture build up in winter. Ask your contractor what kind of venting is included with the roofing job to ensure your roof lasts a lifetime.

5. Repair the wood under the shingles

Part of professional roof repair is not only removing all the old shingles, but making any necessary repairs to the underlying wood. Make sure your contractor addresses this and allows for these types of repairs if needed in your agreement. Placing new shingles over faulty wood is never advisable and may reduce the life of the new roofing materials.

6. Protective coverings

Shingles should never be affixed directly to raw wood on the roof. Protective barriers made of felt or other coverings provide additional ice and water shields needed to fully protect your home. This is especially important in areas with heavy rains or icy temperatures. Also ensure the contractor includes all the additional installation materials needed for a proper roof replacement such as fasteners, flashing and drip edges are a part of the price.

7. Inspections

A properly functioning roof system will protect your home and possessions for years to come. Be sure you discuss what this assessment consists of and how your contractor will ensure that your new roof is completed to your satisfaction. Some contractors may even provide independent inspections and certifications for your complete peace of mind.

8. How much wind resistance do you need?

In evaluating the quality of the roofing materials and installation, the warranty and performance related to wind is a critical factor in evaluating what product to purchase. This is especially important in areas where hurricanes, tornados or other severe weather patterns can cause wind damage. Wind speed warranties can be as low as 60 miles per hour and up to 130 miles per hour. With proper installation, purchasing shingles with higher wind warranties can mean the difference between a new roof and complete protection should you experience severe weather.

9. Know your installation contractor

Is your contractor licensed and bonded? Does your contractor have adequate insurance? What warranties do they provide for materials and labor? Does the contractor obtain the proper permits and follow all local, regional codes and regulations? How reliable is the contractor? What work have they done in your area?

10. Warranties and after sale service

One of the most important elements of any home improvement project is the service you receive after the installation is complete. Does your contractor offer a standard warranty? What does that include: product, labor, parts? For what length of time does the warranty cover? Is there an extended warranty? What does that include? For how long? What does it cost? How are service calls requested? Is there a cost? Will the company be around for the next 10 years if you need them?