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Roofing/Re-roofing and solar

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Question
Our tar and gravel roof has been up there about 17 years since it was last done.  There have been a couple of leaks.  So it's time.  At the same time we spoke to one of the solar panel companies that can install the solar panels and send the energy back to the grid.  it reduces your electricity bill and costs little to nothing.  

I was wondering if there might be an advantage to finding a roofing company that would put down the new tar and gravel *and* do the solar panel installation.  To me it just seems simpler and since they will have to put the panels on to of it they'll make sure that the roof is ready for the panels.  Plus it's one throat to choke - so to speak - if something goes wrong.  My wife disagrees and says we should just consider the two projects entirely separate and find the best of each.

Do you have an opinion??

Thank you.

Answer
Michael,
Great question. I do work in CA quite often and am somewhat familiar that the tax incentives that are offered by the State and local energy company make solar panels quite reasonable. There are a couple of items to consider. It is my understanding that the current PV technology has a life span of no more than 20-years so we should consider a roofing assembly that will achieve a life span equal to the PV panels. In CA there are requirements for Title 24 (my work in generally in the commercial arena in CA so it may differ for residential applications) and because of this requirement, and the energy savings you may want to consider utilizing hot asphalt with a mineral-surfaced cap sheet, with a Title 24 compliant coating. This is something that will reduce the cooling load and extend the life of the roofing assembly. Some companies may steer you toward a single-ply membrane, I recommend that if you go this direction that you stay with the PVC or KEE membranes that have a long history of success with formulations that have not changed in a long time.
I know that there are some companies that do both items. I personally would recommend that you talk to the contractor and see if it is two divisions of the same company or if the same guys are doing both tasks. If it's the same guys, I'd get two different companies. I believe that when I want new tires - I go to the tire store and when I want new paint - I go to the paint shop. I know that there are guys that do it all, but I would rather have the guy who just does one thing day in and day out. I work in roof consulting and do it everyday, but I am not the guy you would hire to install the roof. I would recommend that you coordinate with the PV company so that supports are round (easier to roof), and that some thought is placed into the next re-roof - such as the ability to remove the PV assembly and reinstall it without damaging the roofing assembly. This will allow the systems to be separate and if one fails can be addressed without impacting the other. I truly think that your wife is on the right track and that coordination between the companies is essential.
Good luck.
Aaron

Roofing

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Aaron Nelson

Expertise

All types of questions with regard to roofing, waterproofing and sheet metal. This includes commercial and residential buildings, along with the various aspects of the construction means and methods, ventilation, steep-slope or low-slope, code requirements, installation errors and other such problems

Experience

I started in roofing fabricating and installing sheet metal flashings out of high school for a large commercial contractor. I worked for the same contractor in the office estimating and project managing commercial project for 10 years. I left the construction side of roofing and now work as a roof consultant, which I have been doing for 8-years.

Organizations
RCI, Inc.

Education/Credentials
I am a Registered Roof Consultant (RRC) and a Registered Roof Observer (RRO) through RCI, Inc. RCI is a international group of building envelope professionals. I am an approved instructor for RCI educational programs.

Past/Present Clients
We have worked with many local school districts, insurance companies, HOA's, building management companies, and we have a national client with buildings located throughout the US.

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