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Rain Pushes Up Demand for Roof Repairs

By Richard Metcalf
Copyright 2006 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
    Monsoonal downpours have homeowners trying to do something about the state of their usually sun-baked but now leaky roofs.
    And they're getting bad news.
Through the Roof
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[+] Click for photos from week
Greg Sorber/Journal
Phillip Beltran, left, and Javier Valdiviez of Right Way Roofing apply hot tar and gravel at a re-roofing job at a home in the Northeast Heights on Wednesday. Roofing has been particularly hard hit by the rising cost of material in the past 12 months.

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  • Photos from this week's ABQjournal.com
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  •     Many face a month's wait, and the cost has skyrocketed.
        Permits for re-roofing houses in Albuquerque have shot up 30 percent from June to July, traditionally the start of thunderstorm season, according to the city building office.
        Many homeowners also are paying thousands more for the work than in past years.
        "I had mentally prepared myself for the higher prices," said Tim Coan, who scheduled the re-roofing of his University area home in June.
        "I knew I needed to get my roof done," he said. "I actually called before the monsoon season hit."
        Virtually everything used in a roofing job, whether flat or pitched, is petroleum based and thus tied to the escalating price of oil.
        "Roofing has taken some of the highest increases in material costs in the construction industry," said John Sanchez, president of Right Way Roofing.
        The upshot has been a 50 percent to 75 percent increase in the price for a roofing job in the metro area over the past two years, he said.
        A job that would have cost $3,000 in the spring of 2004 might be in the $5,000 range today, he said.
        The price for roofing materials is going up monthly, said Daniel Arellano, superintendent of K-Ram Inc.
        "If a homeowner thinks he needs a new roof, get it done now," he said. "It's not going to get any better."
        K-Ram has seen the price of a roofing job go up about 80 percent in two years, with more than half of the increase in the past 12 months, Arellano said.
        The most dramatic increase has been seen in flat hot-tar and gravel roofs.
        The federal government's Producer Price Index for construction materials has tracked a 71 percent jump in the price of asphalt during the 12 months ending with June. The index does not include the cost of transportation, storage and installation.
        But roofing felt, primers, adhesive and even shingles have also seen price spikes, Sanchez and Arellano said.
        "Everything has gone through the roof," said Sanchez. "No pun intended."
    700 claims
        The first soaking rains of the monsoon season, which occurred at the end of June, opened the floodgates.
        The Albuquerque claims office of State Farm went from four or five assorted claims a day to a total of 700 over the subsequent three weeks, said Gilbert Duran, team manager at the office. All 700 involved rain damage.
        Right Way Roofing fielded 4,500 calls during July, three to four times the usual number, Sanchez said.
        "What exacerbated the problem from years past is we went from 8-9 months of no rain to downpours," he said. "There was a huge backlog."
        Homeowners didn't know their roofs were dried up and splitting. Sanchez said, "Out of sight, out of mind."
        The downpours exposed roofing flaws, creating emergencies such as collapsed ceilings in some households.
        Leonard Benally of Integrity Roofing said he just put a new roof on a house with major problems.
        "I really felt sorry for her," he said of the homeowner. "Every room leaked— she couldn't sleep in her bedroom."
    Waiting a month
        Leaky houses have roofing contractors scrambling to keep up, so getting one can be frustrating.
        Three to four weeks is not an unusual wait for a re-roofing, both Sanchez and Arellano said, one or two weeks to get an estimate and another two to get a crew scheduled.
        "Some people will wait a little longer," Sanchez said.
        Since delays are inevitable, he advised, "Get on somebody's list and wait it out. Be patient."
    Finding a contractor
        The Better Business Bureau of the Southwest offers free rating reports on hundreds of roofing contractors in the Albuquerque metro area. They are available online at www.bbbsw.org or by calling 346-0110.
        The New Mexico Construction Industries Division, which licenses roofing contractors, offers tips on hiring a contractor and license information at www.rld.state.nm.us/ cid/.