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Ask an expert: George McCarthy, roofer 

With 30 years in the business, McCarthy has worked on roofs all over Atlantic Canada. His company, McCarthy’s Roofing, has locations here, in Newfoundland, PEI and New Brunswick, with 230 employees, working on residential and commercial roofs.

click to enlarge George McCarthy - SCOTT BLACKBURN

HALIFAX HOMES: What should someone ask of a roofer when contracting them to work on their home?

George McCarthy: The first thing they should ask is if they’re safety certified. Do they have their certification papers? The certifications come from the Nova Scot ia Construction Safety Association. Also, when the roofers come to your home, make sure the people going up on the roof have their harnesses on, their safety gear. Because it is the homeowner’s responsibility. A lot of people don’t realize that if people come to your home and fall off, get killed, you’re also responsible. The company is responsible, too, for the employees, but at the end of the day you’re on the hook, too.

Safety is one thing, but liability insurance too. If they come in and they’re working on your roof and it leaks, or if they break your windows. It’s nice to know the guy is safety certified and has got his insurance. And sometimes it’s good to say, “Can I see it?”

HH: When people are buying a home, how can they tell if the roof is in good shape?

GM: Basically they should be able to tell if the shingles are curled or buckling. That’s a sign of aging. If you’re able to get on the roof and the grains or stones are off of it, or there are cracks in the shingles, you have an aging roof. If you’re buying a home the homeowner should be able to tell you the last time they had the roof done, or if they have any paperwork showing when the roof was done.

HH: How long will a roof in Halifax last?

GM: Most would last an average of 20 to 25 years. There are some heavier grade products that will give you a bit of extra time. Our winds are stronger today than they’ve ever been and storms are more fierce. If you’re in the winded areas, [a roof] is going to cost you anywhere from $3,500 to $7,000. For the extra couple hundred dollars you put into a better quality shingle it’s well worth the money.

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