“I love the roofing business because what we do is a big project that changes the look of the house forever,” says Dan Keller, whose company, George J. Keller & Sons, has shingled tens of thousands of houses in Northern New Jersey during the last four decades.
The family-owned and -operated company, which is based in Flanders, was founded by Keller’s father, the George referenced in its name.
In addition to Dan, who now owns it, the 60-employee staff includes his sister, Cory, who is in charge of operations, his brother, Matt, who handles repairs, and his wife, Heather, who is the marketing chief.
George J. Keller & Sons, which also specializes in siding and windows, is one of only 33 contractors in the nation that has been designated a member of the GAF Roofing 3-Star President’s Club. It also has received the highest designations from the CertainTeed and James Hardie siding companies and from Andersen windows.
We asked Dan to give us tips on doing a house makeover that’s more than shingle-deep.
My house is looking a little tired and untidy. Are there any inexpensive things I can do to ratchet up its curb appeal?
For a quick cosmetic fix, we can clean your roof, replace your gutters and add or replace shutters. These things make a world of difference and usually can be done for under $5,000. If you do need to replace the roof, that can cost around $14,000.
What does cleaning the roof involve?
Sometimes there’s algae buildup that leaves black stains; we have a proprietary formula that will erase them without harming the asphalt shingles. The treatment, which is environmentally friendly and will not hurt the plants in your yard, will also make the shingles look brighter.
Ah, the shingles. I really hate the color of mine—they are black! What can I do about that?
Other than replacing your roof—and we don’t recommend doing that unless you’re having issues and really need to do it—there’s nothing that will change the color of the shingles. When you are ready for a roof replacement, though, there are 24 colors to choose from, including browns, whites, blues, greens, reds and yes, even black.
I’m really looking for an excuse to change the black shingles. Don’t they absorb more heat and make the house hotter?
When you talk about heat absorption, color matters but not as much as you think because all the shingles are made of asphalt. A darker shingle will be hotter but not substantially. And we take care of the heat issue by venting the attic so it stays cool.
You mentioned changing the gutters. Are you pro or con about gutter guards?
In my experience, they create more problems than they help because there’s no one that’s perfect so they do allow some debris in. They also promote ice damming in the winter because they freeze immediately and create blockages.
Once I’ve switched everything up, how do I keep things looking nice?
We recommend getting the roof and gutters inspected and cleaned twice a year. It’s also a good idea to walk around your attic, especially after heavy rainstorms, to see whether there are leaks. If you do this, your roof will last much longer than those of your neighbors.
Speaking of longevity, just how long can I expect a new roof to last?
The roofs we install come with a 50-year guarantee, which provides 100 percent coverage for any manufacturing defect.
That’s amazing! My roof is likely to outlive me! Are defects common?
Since 2006, when I joined the company, we have had only three warranty claims, and all were color-related. The manufacturer honored the guarantee, and we replaced each roof.
What’s the greatest misconception that people have about roofers?
Well, there actually are two: They think roofing companies are unreliable—which is why we make it a point to call everyone back in a timely manner even if it’s only to tell them that we can’t help them—and they don’t realize that roofing is a year-round business. There are, of course, limitations—it can be too hot, too cold or too rainy on any given day—but we will be roofing all through the winter.
Learn more about roof options at GJKeller.com.