Over Your Head: How Today's New Roofing Products Can Dramatically Change the Appearance of Your Home

You may sentimentally recall your mother asking you if you were aware of how hard your father had to work to put a roof over your head. It was a rhetorical question, actually meant to make you do whatever chore it was that you skipped out on. But let’s take up the question posed by mothers everywhere once again. It makes more sense for us today than it did when we were kids.

Just how much does that roof over our heads cost? And if we should happen to be tired of the way it looks, what choices do we have to add style and protection to our home?


Back to basics

Your home design can hide…or push the roof right out there for everybody to see. Visibility is always the first consideration when you’re thinking about roof replacement. Even if you’ve got a healthy budget, you can’t always get what you want.

Material weight will always play a factor. Your existing roof infrastructure may not have been built to handle switching out an asphalt roof for ceramic tile.

The first step is to determine what you can have. Then plan accordingly. You may not just be replacing the roof’s exterior materials. Those materials, by the way, break into 6 basic varieties.



It’s that familiar dark stuff, and it’s the most common residential roofing material used in the US. This is mainly because it’s also the most economical and easy to install.

Asphalt tiles don’t have to be a dark color, and they can be reinforced with fiberglass for weatherproofing without adding much weight.

The downside of asphalt roofing is that it doesn’t offer much in the way of insulation if your house is exposed to extreme weather conditions. It also doesn’t last very long.


Concrete or clay

Homes throughout the southwest use this roofing material to capture regional influence. The style brings Mission, Southwestern, Spanish, or Mediterranean flair to your home.

These tiles are usually made of clay and concrete. It makes them energy efficient and resistant to fire. They also are about four times more expensive than asphalt tiles.

The very things that make them attractive also become liabilities. The safe and energy efficient tiles are heavy. You’ll need additional framing to support them.



A metal roof can create a dramatic change in the statement your house makes. The communication fits right into their extreme level of protection. A metal roof is your friend if you have to deal with the nastier side of what Mother Nature can throw out.

Metal roofing material often comes in sheets of stainless steel, copper, or aluminum. You’ll also find a growing selection of metal shingles. This style of roof is complementary to contemporary homes. Metal also gives a classy upgrade to cabins and bungalows.

Metal roofs are relatively light in weight, but they can be heavy on the budget.


Wood and shake

Sometimes, back to basics works best. Most roofs were made of shake or wood shingles long before hybrid materials such as asphalt became available.

Wood shingles today are machine milled, but they still weather to a satisfying shade of gray. Handmade shakes provide an even more rustic look.

Wood or shake tiles are usually made of pure natural wood such as redwood, pine, or cedar. They’re not a good choice if there’s a lot rain and moisture in your forecast. This will cause rot and splitting. You’ll also need to check with your local building codes. It’s wood. Wood combusts. In some places, wood roofs are prohibited.



Close your eyes and let your imagination run wild. That’s the opportunity a growing collection of man-made materials is offering homeowners. These synthetic roofing products can mimic traditional things like wood or slate – or they can take you in a whole new dramatic direction.

There’s growing interest in these materials because they can combine the best of all worlds. For example, synthetic shingles can be impregnated with an energy efficient radiant barrier Just coming out on the market are revolutionary shingles that can be used as solar collectors. You may not even realize that’s what they do.

It was mostly for theatrics – that whole lecture about the long days your father worked to put a roof over your head. It’s okay, Mom. We’re old enough and wise enough now to know that the actually came with the house.

Mom, you still get all the credit. The roof-over-our-head lecture worked. We finally did end up doing the chores.

Talk to us about crowning your home with a new roof. We’re a proud member of the National Roofing Contractors Association. We warranty all of our craftsmanship and are able to provide extended material and labor warranties on all our installed products.

That's Not What You Said it Was going to Cost! How to Work With Your Builder to Set, and Keep, an Exterior Remodeling Construction Budget

Scope Creep.” In the world of project management it’s what happens when things keep getting bigger and more complicated than planned. And it always happens after the project begins. If you’re not careful, you can get a taste of this as a homeowner undertaking a remodeling construction project.

You tell your contractor you want X, and your budget is Y. Not long after work gets underway, you decide you want to change a few things. “Well, that’s not X anymore,” the contractor says. “That’s R. If that’s what you want the cost is no longer Y, it’s actually R minus X, where R is greater. So the new cost of the project is Y plus the difference of R minus X.”

Good grief! And you thought you were done with algebra back in high school.  

Get thee to a building contractor

We’ve all done it at least once in our lives. One of two things has happened after we see something we want to purchase:

  • We don’t act on it because we think it’s too expensive, but it turns out we could have bought three of them if we wanted.
  • We flip over the price tag and nearly have a heart attack because boy, oh boy, that is so much more expensive than we ever dreamed

“Yeah, but shouldn’t I be able to figure out all the prices by spending some time online?” That’s a way to get a general estimate, but we probably hate surprises more than you do. Wouldn’t you rather have a cost proposal based on details?

That’s a process with real people taking accurate measurements and finding out detailed requests. Sorry, but an online calculator won’t do that for you.


It’s a partnership

We’re not going to get married, but we have to create a strong working relationship. And like most relationships, the big arguments are usually about money – and usually because somebody wasn’t completely forthcoming with all the details. Here’s what we’ve learned from past relationships with clients that keep those surprises from happening.

  1. Say what’s on your mind. We’re expert exterior remodeling professionals, but we’ve never been good at mind reading. You’re going to be asked to make a lot of decisions. In this partnership, we’ll be straightforward and transparent so there are no surprises. Do the same with us.
  2. Make the decision to trust us. We love it when we get to work with clients who take a genuine interest in what we’re doing to the exterior of their home. Partnerships are based on trust. Our reputation is on the line, so you can trust us to do the right thing. If you see something you don’t understand, ask us.
  3. Take the time to be sure. There are a lot of articles online advising homeowners that they need to know exactly what they want. These articles also talk about how making changes can cause big budget-busting problems. Both of these statements are true, but only up to a point. A true partnership acknowledges that things can change. We take the approach that it’s better to work longer and harder with you during the planning stage, making sure you’re completely comfortable with the exterior changes you’re asking us to make. We’ve discovered this greatly reduces the possibility that you’ll ask for a change that can impact the budget for the project.

Have you noticed a theme running through what you’ve read so far? All successful relationships are based on a foundation of communication. We’re going to put in writing what’s going to be done to your house. It’s a legal contract. You might say it’s like a marriage contract. That’s the way we prefer things. In fact it’s our mission statement:

To treat all of our customers like we would treat our own family, and work on all our  projects as if they were our own homes.

We can stay within the budget we agree on. We will make the changes to the exterior of your house that you envision. It happens when everything up there in your head makes it to our ears. And we’re really good listeners!

Talk to us about how we can be your partner in creating a new exterior look for your home. The partnership starts with us coming to your home. We’ll listen to what you want to accomplish and share our professional insight. Next step? A free estimate.

What You Can’t See: It May Look Fine, But Storms Can Cause Hidden Damage to Your Roof

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Minnesota has its share of nasty weather. Spring, summer, and fall storms can be intense. They pass quickly, and everything can look fine. Unfortunately, it’s what you can’t see that’ll hurt you. Storms can pack a wallop on your roof, causing invisible damage. Left uninspected and unrepaired, this damage becomes costlier over time.

Last September the Shoreview, Cottage Grove, and Inner Grove Heights communities were hit by an intense storm that damaged homes in these areas. Some of this storm damage was obvious. The homeowners acted right away. As we prepare for spring and summer storms, many more homeowners in these areas will discover that even though their roof looked fine after the storm, it caused damage that will only get worse.


Damage from hail and heavy winds often goes unnoticed. The worst of it is almost impossible to see—especially if you don’t know what to look for. It takes hail the size of a golf ball or larger to potentially break through your roofing material.

Smaller size hail still can do considerable harm by damaging the integrity of your shingles. The hail causes the granules embedded in the shingles to come loose, exposing the asphalt.


Strong winds generated by storms are especially harmful to your roof. A sudden vertical sheer or updraft can knock loose underlying structural joists. You won’t see this damage. Ultimately, though, you’ll know something’s happened. Rain will seep through the loose joists, and you’ll discover discolorations on your ceiling.

It will take even longer to see the mold and mildew that can grow on this constantly moist surface.

It’s up there, and you’re down here

The frustrating part of this unseen damage is that you likely can’t get a close look at your roof, anyway. Head inside. You do have a clear view of your ceilings. Inspect them closely for discolorations. That indicates you’ve got a leak.

Then head outside. Take a walk around the perimeter of your home. Do you see any visible damage to the vents? That’s a sign that there also may be damage to the roof itself. The same goes for your gutters.

Before the next big storm

Last year’s September storm that swept through the Shoreview, Cottage Grove, and Inner Grove Heights areas did indeed do considerable damage to roofs. If you’re in the area and you remember the storm, you owe it to yourself to make sure your roof didn’t suffer damage as well. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Talk to us about roof repair if you see any of these signs, or even if you suspect there might be damage you haven’t detected. We’re a proud member of the National Roofing Contractors Association. We warranty our work. You can see examples of our craftsmanship here. You’ll be hard pressed to find an exterior renovation company as accredited as us, and we encourage you to do your research before you select a roofing contractor.

Let’s work together to keep that roof over your head a sound one.

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The Shape Of Things: New Windows, And The Dramatic Change They Can Make To Your Home's Exterior

Most people think of the impact that windows have on the interior of their home. After all, we spend far more time inside looking out through them. The character windows bring to each room will always be a main consideration, but they also can play a major role in creating dramatic changes when you remodel the exterior of your home.

Dormer Windows

You didn’t design it that way. The roof came with the house. There’s a lot of it, and the roof has a steep pitch. Sometimes you think that big roof is the only thing people notice when they drive by or visit.

Dormer windows can help. Use them to balance exterior elements by bringing attention away from the expanse of the roof.

You’re naturally going to see them at the top of your home, and that creates opportunities to bring more light to these areas. They’ll often be above the treetops. Dormer windows can also extend interior living space by creating seating areas, with a bonus of shelving or drawers for storage.

Entry Door Windows

Talk about making a good first impression. Your entry is the first thing visitors take in as they walk up to the door.

Consider framing your entry door with panels of grid windows. Their geometry can be selected to complement the shape of your door. While the glass brings in more natural light for your interior, it also has the effect of brightening up the exterior.

The psychology of transparency comes to play. The expanse of windows surrounding your entry communicate that your home is a friendly and open place.

If there’s a porch – our you plan to add one – sidelights can widen the effect of your front door and make it even more inviting. These tall, vertical windows also find symmetry with porch columns.

Anything But A Rectangle

The exterior of your home is already a collection of 90-degree angles. Even the sloped angles of your roof are going to meet to create square or rectangular eaves.

It’s easy to break up this right-angle monotony with unexpected window shapes. These non-window shaped windows give playful hints to the function of that part of a home’s interior. A circular window, for example, often says, “Hey, there’s a bathroom here.”

Nonstandard window shapes have an important design advantage that goes beyond adding exterior character. They don’t have to follow the lines of your home’s intrinsic designs. Use off-center placement of uniquely shaped custom windows to add outer beauty, but maintain interior privacy.

Talk to us about windows. They’re a relatively inexpensive way to completely change the outward appearance of your home. They can transform ordinary, predictable exteriors into architectural works of visual beauty.

Not Just For Cars Anymore: How Changing Lifestyles Are Transforming The Function And Style Of Home Garages

Maybe it’s not your imagination. That almost imperceptible sigh you hear from somewhere in your house just might be coming from…the garage.

If there’s one part of the house that feels more neglect than the rest, it’s often the garage. Is it a detached garage? Even worse: you may not think it’s even a part of your house at all.

Overlooked Upgrade Opportunities

The garage is the perfect place to start if you’ve been trying to figure out how to claim more living space in your home. If you’re like most of us, the garage has become nothing more than a convenient place to store things – and it’s pushed our vehicles out of their rightful space. The U.S Department of energy recently reported that over 25% of those with 2-car garages are unable to park even a single vehicle in them because the space is used instead for storage.

It’s time to reclaim that space, but it doesn’t mean you have to part with anything. All that’s necessary is an upgrade. This is especially easy to do if you have a detached garage. You’ll find that a reasonable investment allows you to expand your garage, adding customized storage – and it’s even possible to build extra living space above it.

What’s New In Garage Design Trends

Much of the new construction you’ll find today has pushed the traditional 2-car garage aside in favor of 3-bay garages. You can use it as an excuse to buy a third car, but the reasoning behind this is that the extra bay is ample room for your snow blower or riding lawnmower. Bicycles hanging from rafter hooks sounds like a wise use of space – until the first time your head tangles with the handlebars after you’ve forgotten it’s up there above you. Now there’ll be plenty of room for everything to stay on the floor.

While there are plenty of interior reasons to go for a bigger garage, it’s also a smart way to enhance the overall look of your property.

  • There is no unspoken rule that garage doors have to be white, or that they must be segmented metal contraptions that roll up and down. Manufacturers are getting into the trend by offering a new variety of colors and styles that bring architectural excitement to this part of your home.
  • There are plenty of garage doors with windows, but why are there few garage walls with them? It’s easy to add a few of them to an existing garage – or include them in the construction plans of a new one. More light means more reasons to utilize the space for crafts or a work area. From an exterior standpoint, windows are one of the easiest ways to add architectural charm and value.

It’s time to say goodbye to the part of your house that looks like a boring box with a roll-up white aluminum door. You’ll see a return on the investment in the form of more storage space, as well as an enhancement in your home’s appearance. That enhancement, by the way, includes not seeing your cars loitering out in the driveway.

Talk to us about garages. We’re one of the few builders that don’t look at them as an afterthought. We’ll make sure it’s as functional on the inside – and as beautiful on the outside – as the rest of your home.